It’s a strange feeling to awake inland from the beaches and to hold them in my mind as the beautiful, bountiful places they were even just three weeks ago…to know the advancing black tides are out there washing into fragile places…it makes for a continual sense of uncertainty.

The economic impacts are felt in the general sense in the community of doom and gloom. The local mental health clinics have been active on radio and in the newspapers advising us on how to be resilient and keep our chin up. Their advice seems like a wafer held-out to the starving. We flash on a baby dolphin crying out to its pod out on Ft. Pickens, later dying on the way to a rescue center. Flash-backs of oil soaked turtles and birds.

Some of the staff at the university are avid fishermen, from families who depend on the weekly catch as part of their diet and for whom fishing was a meditation, a communion with the land and sea. They do not know what to do with their time and thoughts. Prayer is big here, with a very religious community. There is a lot of “miracles can happen” speak, and vacuous talking about “it will be okay.”

It’s not okay. The air fills with petroleum products that are lethal. No, it’s not above the EPA standards yet, that is true. But it will have its impacts. This is a community that has never really wailed against 100 years of corporate irresponsibility that left PCB and other damaging byproducts in our bays and bayous and ocean of air. We finally cleared away Mt. Dioxin, one of three super-fund sites in the Pensacola area. But we don’t talk much about that because, well we want those corporations to keep coming to infuse much needed dollars into the community.

Now, perhaps, we’ll rethink that and require, as the nation surely now must require, that a corporation have public safety as its first responsibility and profit as its second priority. Corporations are supported by stockholders, us, and we must now see that we have to read the monthly statements and keep vigil over them, or we ourselves will be just as culpable as the corporate leaders we criticize, even hold as villains.  Its time for all of us to grow up, and to realize that we have not, as a people, required ethics in our business practices – certainly in our offshore oil drilling safety standards.

But, we Pensacoleans, we are living the nightmare now for all of you. Our foolishness is in our faces, on our shoes and toes, and in our lungs. What that will mean for our futures is another uncertainty.