Okay people, it’s triage time. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is far worse than first thought; the wildlife, marine ecosystem, and the human ecosystems of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and the entire Gulf Coast are being devastated as you read this.
I just read a dispatch this morning from Penny Alsop, one of our amazing students in the Upaya Buddhist Chaplaincy Program. Penny lives in Tallahassee, Florida, and works for the Dept. of Environmental Protection, the lead agency for Florida’s response to the spill. She writes:
“Unrefined crude is toxic. VOC burn off is largely at sea but make no mistake, if you go to the area, it will be uncomfortable, maybe even dangerous, depending on where you go and what you do while there. All warnings say to protect yourself when in direct contact with the oil. For people with respiratory challenges, the affected area is not recommended. [Note from Maia: If you are interested in volunteering, see this website: http://www.oilspillvolunteers.com/ ]
For others who are unable to go on site, there is plenty, plenty to do. Many people are suffering in innumerable ways. This is a time to include them in your practice, in your hearts and minds with a resounding and steady call for the relief of their suffering.
Many people are at a standstill as far as business goes; some standing to lose businesses that have been in their families for generations. Money will be needed to help support them get over the hump. Start a fund to collect donations to send help.
Friends are needed, directly and indirectly for thousands upon thousands who are going to be affected for a long time to come. Writers, poets, photographers – Google “Love the Gulf” to share your stories.
Chaplains and chaplains-to-be, email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to be included in plans to go to the affected areas to be with people. If you would like to make a donation to make it possible to help send chaplains to the area, checks can be made out to 3 Smart Girlz and mailed to 400 Capital Circle SE, Suite 18154, Tallahassee, Fl 32301. The company is not a non-profit, so I cannot offer anything that would serve as a tax write off. But, every single penny will go only for the purpose of offsetting expenses for chaplains (and candidates) to go to the region. No one is being paid to do this.
Send your love. Take action anywhere that you can. Look at those pictures of oil covered animals and let it break your heart then take the next steps that make sense to you. Just please do not forget.”
This is huge, and the mahasangha is needed in this effort. There are many ways to help. Penny just gave us some great ideas, which I formatted in bold above. Please let us know what you will do…
May 30. 2010, Note: Some of the text above has been corrected from the original post, based on clarifications from Penny.