"You have a real problem with the oil spill," Wang Yukuo said, as I picked up another slice of lotus root with my chopsticks. I pause, weigh his words. I do not have sufficient understanding of Chinese humor to retort without offending. In the cage of my American imagination, ideas gestate. With the rapid urbanization and modernization occurring in the People's Republic of China, I think it would be a godsend for the Chinese to pick up a few million barrels of oil from the Deepwater accident. Might they then understand the oil spill problem is not exclusively American? Might they better understand why the Gulf of Mexico misfortune and the threats to the coastal wetlands of southern Louisiana is akin to problems of ecology in their own nation?
"Yes," I finally replied, not want to lose my grip on the lotus root. "A very serious crisis." The faint smile on Wang's face reminded me of global crises ----Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan; famine in North Korea; excessive consumption of KFC and McDonald's grease in Asia and Europe; global warming and global cooling; genocide popping up in places with names unfamiliar to American ears; the tragedy of unconsecrated oil in the Holy Land. It is right to smile, to wear the mask of being cool and rational, as one ponders the unending accumulation of crises. Wang's smile suggests he is very smart, but it intensifies my feelings about disaster. Environmental abuses in his nation forecast a smoggy future for the Chinese.
BP's inability to quickly stop a leak approximately 5,000 feet under water may symbolize that rampant progress is writing an unhappy future for unborn generations of Americans. I don't have precise information about the toxins that affected us prior to Hurricane Katrina, nor do I have reliable prognoses about long-term effects environmental toxins from 2005 to 2105. Progressive greed writes an uncertain narrative for Wang and me.
It might be rash to say that the oil leak is Nature's revenge for man's several million years of using and abusing the earth. It is silly to project human motives upon amoral Nature. Nature simply moves according to some cosmic time we can't measure accurately. The guilty and the innocent are united in being punished existentially. Oil/schmoil! I chew the lotus root slowly. It is delicious.
Jerry W. Ward, Jr. March 8, 2017.