Heroes of the Gulf

Well, folks, it looks like Eckman Engineering is in the news yet again.  Still reeling from the murder of their CEO two years ago, the company is now being sued by BP to help offset the multi-billion-dollar price tag for the gulf oil spill cleanup effort.  BP alleges that shoddy cementing services for the Macondo oil rig provided by Eckman Engineering directly contributed to the disaster, and Eckman’s new CEO is battening down the hatches.  In light of these recent developments, I thought it prudent to reprint a piece I wrote for “Our Nation” in the wake of the devastating spill.

“Heroes of the Gulf”

By Starla Carter

This article appeared in the July, 2010 edition of “Our Nation”

Tomorrow, BP and the countless organizations working on helping contain the spill in the Gulf of Mexico will attempt to stop the flow of oil by capping the underwater wellhead.  Many are decrying that at this point it is too little, too late.  It has been 87 days since the explosion that caused the initial spill and cost the lives of eleven men.  Since then, approximately 53,000 barrels of oil per day have been released into the gulf, resulting in an ecological disaster the likes of which we have never seen, and God willing we will never see again.  The damage will affect not only wildlife, but our own lives as well, given the threats of contamination, as well as the possibility of other, as yet unknown ecological side effects.

Have the attempts to stop the spill been anemic?  No doubt about it.  The fact that it occurred in the first place is unacceptable.  Many blame British Petroleum for not ensuring necessarily safety precautions.  Others blame the U.S. government for not more stringently demanding said safety precautions.  But the blame game seems to me to be a pointless endeavor, one we’d all be best to leave behind us.  Meanwhile, I have an even better question, one that I think sadly answers itself.

In the wake of the disaster, countless men and women, both American and from across the globe, volunteered their services.  Some came to the gulf coast to help with the clean-up efforts.  Others proposed or funded efforts to assist with the capping of the well and removal of oil from the gulf waters.  Even prominent actors and other celebrities became involved in this process.  And yet, in this most perfect opportunity for a public relations spike of the most potent proportions… not a single vigilante or superhuman came forward to help with the clean-up efforts.

Not those so-called heroes who operate openly, with their identities revealed.  Not the masked, self-appointed guardians who patrol our cities with overly-sensational aliases.  Not the scared men and women who keep their abilities secret out of fear of persecution, even though the things they could have achieved in these efforts could have gained them not only acceptance but untold respect.  And certainly not the lunatics who terrorize law-abiding citizens each and every day, hiding behind cloaks while spouting indecipherable ideologies.

And I mean to call out every vigilante, not just those with powers.  Sure, extraordinary strength, flight, even temporal manipulation, there are countless abilities that could have greatly aided the recovery efforts.  But you don’t need a superpower to come to the gulf states and help clear the beaches.  You don’t need a superpower to help distribute supplies and meals to the ecologists, construction crews, and relief workers toiling day and night to end this crisis.  You don’t need a superpower to make a difference.

Once again, the real heroes in this catastrophe are the people on the ground.  The people who have sacrificed, taken leave of absences from work, travelled cross country to states they’ve never seen before, put the good of our planet before their own lives.  The selfless few who have done what they can are those we should be thanking, and those we should be honoring on the news, and on our street corners.  And our vigilantes are far, far from selfless.  And yet theirs are the names that will be spoken with awe by our impressionable children, and whose endeavors will become legendary when the history books are written.

I suppose I should offer a slight correction to a point I made earlier.  One vigilante has been spotted repeatedly in the Gulf of Mexico during this crisis.  That vigilante is the eco-crusader who goes by the curious moniker Poseidolon, regarded by some as the authoritative voice on marine ecology and conservation, and by others as an unrepentant eco-terrorist.  That being said, Poseidolon has made no effort to make contact with or in any way support the efforts on the coast.  Instead, he has been scouring the bay for what wildlife still remains and ferrying them to safer climes.  In many ways, his actions are soberingly poignant.  But in acting as he does, he simply shows how little regard he has for the efforts of those of us who need not put on a costume to help in what way we can.

So to you vigilantes out there who have de-prioritized such an incomprehensible disaster in favor of your little cat-and-mouse games with your archnemeses, you just keep on playing.  The time will come when the unsung heroes will tire of your trivial showboating, and true justice will be done.  Either with you, or against you.

In the meantime, real men and women will try to save our planet tomorrow.  Men and women who will are willing to turn and face us, and who will be proud to tell us their names.


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