Trout, BP, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Peering down into a summer stream, I can almost imagine being a trout, skimming deep and smooth thru the water, my gills pumping good oxygen— till suddenly the oxygen is starved out. Barely any circulating. And I go all still.

That's all I could imagine when I peered into the run-off fed stream at Union County's Briant Park, and saw it was all cloudy, like paint in the water. It made me sad for the ignorance.

Every spring or summer at my old house with the beautiful little stream on Canoe Brook Parkway, some homeowner, or painter, would dump their stuff into the stream (which they no doubt found very convenient) —and our trout would die. The painters or homeowners upstream never saw the dead trout, just the convenient spot to dump their waste. The stream took it away, and it was gone. And this happens in a thousand streams in a thousand towns every day.

The trout didn't always die; they were resilient, but I would watch them go still, and imagine what I would feel like if there were no oxygen in the air when my lungs took a breath.

Perhaps I'm anthropomorphizing, imagining being a trout, but with the vivid images in the news, of oiled birds and turtles smothering in the Gulf, you can see why.

I can also imagine being British. I used to live there, in Cambridge; I loved their national pride, and their resilience. And I can imagine the hit the Brits are taking from the damage to their company, BP. (or 'British Petrol' as it was known, when I was living on North Sea fish and chips) About 25 percent of British Petroleum stock is owned by British pension funds.

I can imagine why the English want President Obama to back off his criticism; I can see why the The Daily Telegraph in London headlined: 'Obama's Boot on the Throat of British Pensioners' as the stock loses value every day, with suggestions to take the dividend away.

But don't shareholders, by definition, have a stake in the company, good times and bad? And haven't the days passed when any of us could say, 'I don't care how my company makes money, as long as it pays a dividend…' Because in this interconnected world, when a company acts outside the bounds of integrity, we all pay.

And is BP different or 'worse' than the other oil giants? Or was it just the luck of the draw, that the blowout happened to BP? What if : all the oil companies were required by all the governments to pool their resources, and operate a joint environmental disaster task force?

Something else deeply concerns me, besides the 11 oil-rig workers dead and the oiled wildlife and the damage to our ocean ecology and coastal ways of life—no matter what BP has done or failed to do, I might suggest, Mr. President, toning down the anti-British rhetoric.

The United States has had one good and true military friend in the Gulf - the other Gulf. And that is Great Britain. In the face of war and disaster, it would be a real tragedy if the devil and the deep blue sea were to create a divide between allies. Friends don't blame friends, especially when inadequate US government regulations and oversight helped compound the disaster on our shore.

We all need oil and water and oxygen, and fish; I hate to see smoke on the water create combustion.

In a crisis, the first thing people tend to do, is forget to breathe. Then they lose their heads. Oxygen brings both cooler heads and clear thinking. What's good for the fishes is good for us friends.

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For oxygen and a good clear head, join Therese Crowley for Guided Meditation at the Clarence Dillon Public Library in Bedminster, in concert with the Somerset Hills YMCA @ Riverwalk. Wednesdays at 5:30, just $5.

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