Wednesday, June 2, 2010

As the Gulf lay dying

I can’t help but think that the condition of our world today is due to many people making unethical decisions in their career choices, as well as their personal lives. Wake up, everybody!

For instance, I was listening to one of my podcasts, NPR’s Your Health, about how bad sodas are for health. They found a “scientist” working for the American Beverage Association who was defending the drinking of sodas, saying they weren’t responsible for the surge in obesity – it’s too much consumption of all foods, and not enough exercise. This, though there is a direct correlation between being overweight and drinking sodas. This so-called scientist explained that sodas are 99 percent water, which is completely natural and healthful. Yeah, supposedly, our bodies are also 99-percent water, but we all have very different body types, nonetheless. So, how does this representative for the soda industry live with her choices? This is just a small example of how people's choices can be ethically bankrupt.

Recently, I have wondered how so many people can line their pockets from the oil and gas industry, whether as employees or investors, when there are such horrible disasters, at times, where huge amounts of oil are spilled. It’s like working in the nuclear industry. Is it ethical to work for a company that has the potential to cause great harm to the environment, and in the case of O&G, has historically been responsible for so much global pollution?

Most Americans are focused on profit, regardless of the human or environmental costs. It’s like people are unable to take these other costs into account, if they are not being hit directly in the pocketbook with them. We haven’t evolved enough to care about much beyond ourselves. What a pity. How are we made in God’s image, when we are so short-sighted and seemed so determined to find new sources of self-destruction?

This latest oil disaster unfurls, and people seem to be more concerned about the latest winner of “American Idol” or the final episode of “Lost.” Perhaps that is because we all feel lost in the face of monumental disaster; we feel overwhelmed and hopeless, so we turn to feel-good activities instead.
Everyone is making many choices in their everyday lives that, in aggregate, have a profound effect on other people and the condition of the world. It’s not that hard to move incrementally toward more informed choices. But first we must be better informed. That, in itself, is a challenge. It requires a sustained mental effort that many people seem to lack.

It seems that in this partisan corner of the globe, where so many reports are produced by lobbyists representing special interests, good information has become scarcer than ever. I’ve decided that I cannot believe the “facts” if they are presented by any partisan organization, whether it’s one I personally agree with or not. I am desperate for a good, reliable, unbiased news source that seeks to really represent the multiple facets of every major problem we face as a human species. There has been an explosion of information, much of it with so much spin it makes my head hurt.

I like to believe that NPR is a source that seeks both (or many) sides of the story, but certain programs have such an obvious liberal bias that I can’t rely on them – Fresh Air and the Diane Reem show, to name a couple.

The shape of the news media reflects our larger human condition. We each have tunnel vision, and it’s so hard to break away from that to a broader, more inclusive and compassionate vision that includes a great concern for the welfare of others.


  1. Thoughtful post, Julia. I find the Diane Reem show to be quite fair - I think she asks hard questions on both sides of the issues, and she usually has guests from both sides as well.

    We subscribe to The Sun magazine. Each issue has an interview with a trail-blazer in some area, be it health care, food, investments, religion, etc. This month's interview was about responsible investing and slow food and profit instead of fast food and huge gains. The interviewee was Woody Tasch. Very interesting.

  2. Here's a book for you. It is called, Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me). It offers a very good explanation of the psychology of justification. I have been so depressed by the oil spill, by the way, that I've avoided reading this post :).


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