Friday, August 27, 2010

An oil-spill story you may not have seen

Tom Junod in Esquire writes about the 11 men who died in the Deepwater Horizon oil well explosion. This is really interesting because I'd had this thought several times: That the oil spill was a massive tragedy for birds, marine life and people who made their living in the Gulf, and when is BP going to stop the damn spill, how can it possibly keep going on for so long ... but wait, didn't a bunch of people die in the explosion? Good lord, it was embarrassingly easy to forget.

I had neither seen nor read a story about those men, until now. Junod starts out writing about the sympathy shown the pelicans, then cuts to the people who are mad that the pelicans (literallly and symbolically) are getting so much attention. Then:

The people who say these things are not lacking in sympathy or pity. They like pelicans. But they loved their husbands and they loved their sons and they loved their fathers and they loved their fianc├ęs and they loved their friends, and they have suffered the experience of having them taken away. They were taken away when the oil rig they were working on fifty miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico exploded on the night of April 20, and then they were taken away again when the tragedy of the environmental apocalypse — the environmental judgment — unleashed by the explosion outstripped the tragedy of their loss. They were taken away when our loss, as a nation whose health is dependent on the health of our oceans, was deemed greater than the loss of those whose individual worlds were obliterated. They have been taken away every time the story has been told, and the story has been told endlessly. There were eleven of them who died on the Deepwater Horizon. They died on the black ocean, in the black night, far away from our eyes or our interest, in untrammeled obscurity.
 He's captured it beautifully, I think.