copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
"Drill baby, drill," is the now ever-present and popular battle-cry for many Americans. From Presidential candidates to everyday people, those who wish to consume sweet light crude as they have for a more than a century remind me of my hair, and the current President's energy policy. I ponder the parallels and invite you to consider . . .
During a recent press conference, as I gazed upon the President of the United States, noticeably aged after years in the Oval Office, I thought of my hair and my history. His wavy gray locks are not as the strands that fall from my head. Nor did the diminutive curl that danced on his brow remind me of my own tresses. The style the Chief Executive donned did not resemble the permanent waves, pompadours, or ponytails I once wore. As George W. Bush spoke of his energy policy, I pondered. His approach to petroleum and power were as the methodology I embraced when I colored my hair.
For years, I addressed the truth of my tresses just as the President assesses the paradox of propulsion. In speech after speech, George W. Bush proposes, as he did on this occasion; America needs to end its addiction to oil. In the past, I proclaimed, I need to bring to a halt the habit of dying my hair. I, as President Bush, postured and yet, I did next to nothing to truly take me closer to my stated objective.
My progression towards a chemical free treatment of my hair was, as it seems Mister Bush's advancement is. I avoided more authentic change than I approached. My evolution was perhaps slowed by love. The tale of transformation began oh, so long ago.
Decades ago, I met a man who felt like family. Indeed, emotionally Eugene was part of my intimate circle. Gene did much with my Mom, Dad, brother, and I. As a pair, Eugene and I often ventured off together. We chatted on the telephone, spent time in each other's home. We were close. This fine fellow was influential in many aspects of my life. I respected his opinion. I valued his friendship. His wisdom often wowed me.
Thus, when my good friend Gene, who was also my hairdresser, told me the tint would brighten my face, I thought he must have reason to think this sage advice. At first, I protested. As insecure as I was about my appearance, I was confident that my natural hair color was perfect. Still, I considered the source. Therefore, I trusted the recommendation.
Possibly, George W. Bush could share a similar story. A loved one might have said, "Your future will be bright if you dabble in petroleum. extraction" "Build an oil well, my boy, and become a billionaire, or at least a multi-millionaire with substantial influence." "Taste the Texas Tea, and your life will be wondrous," could have been the claim Papa George Herbert or Momma Barbara uttered.
"Oil," family or friends may have opined, will improve the quality of the your existence. Perchance George felt as I did. He had no cause to distrust those he was close to. Indeed, relatives of the heir apparent could avow, with knowledge, to refine sweet crude would put money in a person's pocket. Black gold had helped to grow profits for the Bush brood for generations. As evidence, any of those related to George W. might have offered the family history.
Oil:. The Bushes’ ties to John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil go back 100 years, when Rockefeller made Buckeye Steel Castings wildly successful by convincing railroads that carried their oil to buy heavy equipment from Buckeye. George H. Walker helped refurbish the Soviet oil industry in the 1920s, and Prescott Bush acquired experience in the international oil business as a 22-year director of Dresser Industries. George H.W. Bush, in turn, worked for Dresser and ran his own offshore oil-drilling business, Zapata Offshore.
Frequently a boy child will follow a father's path. Fondness can fashion a future. On land and in the seas sweet light crude secured the Bush family's future. Young George W. Bush looked at evidence. His ancestral past, and his present circumstances even at an early age, helped establish a proven record. Investments in petroleum equate to prosperity. After a scant assessment, the youthful Bush likely decided, drill, drill, drill. That would be the life for him. Silver platters can be persuasive. The opinions of friends and family can also be extremely influential.
Through our personal acquaintance, Gene taught me to trust him and to have faith in his beliefs. Eugene had experience with hair dye. He felt the practice was safe, sane, and offered a sensational opportunity to liven up a face and an existence. Although initially hesitant, I concluded I would at least "try" what quickly became my habit. However, what I did not realize was once you begin on a path, it is a challenge to change course. Dark roots appeared in no time, as did my demand for more hair-dye.
George too may have approached his novel exploration cautiously. Many offspring resolve, they do not wish to be in the family business. The son of the senior Bush might have thought to play at this prospect until he found something better. However, George W. may have quickly discovered just as I did; it is easy to become hooked on a habit, newly acquired or tried and true.
When a career choice yields great wealth and greater opportunity, it is difficult to resist the temptation to continue on a prosperous path. Once the journey begins, an oilman such as George W. Bush realized, empty gas tanks require more fuel. Electrical equipment must be charged. The demand is endless. The people, such as the Bush band, who earn income from the supply, are happy to serve. Thus, the dissonance thrives.
The provider of power or the person caught in a mad pursuit for peroxide journeys deeper into an endless downward spiral. However, neither is aware of the consequences. Gene might not have considered that his chosen career shaded his truth. Nor did I ponder that a professional hair-styler has a singular perspective.
When first introduced to the idea of hair-dye, I pondered; who was the person who presented the proposition. However, I did not think of the veracity, or what later was so clear. Eugene was trained to trust in toxic dyes. When a person sees tinted hair all day, and into the evening, shades of stain on strands of hair seem sensible. The individual that takes the time to apply the colors, surely must think the work wise.
Perhaps, a young George W. Bush also concerned himself with the credibility of those who counseled him. He too found reason to have faith. The future President of the United States might not have pondered further. He may not have investigated the possible hazards associated with oil production or petroleum use. Often, when presented with a choice, we cannot imagine the infinite unknown possibilities, probabilities, or the perils.
My friend not only shaded my hair; his beliefs tainted my own. The hair on my head, and the thoughts in my gray matter were tinted. The Bush family may have colored the consciousness of the youthful George and persuaded a future President to forget what he could have known. Petroleum pollutes. Refined crude contaminates the air and seas. The fumes from Texas Tea in an engine cause temperatures on the terrain and in the troposphere to rise.
Granted, I understood how chemical treatments harmed my tresses and dulled the tint. Aware of the damage done beneath the surface of a follicle, I persuaded myself it was slight and worth the sacrifice. Possibly, the Bush family thought the same of their endeavors. Certainly, George W. Bush still does. He offers plans for renewable energy as he continues to pursue petroleum. Ah, the dynamics of a decision are vast and deep.
Only now, as the globe warms, the climate changes, and the weather whips people and their property into oblivion, does Mister Bush face the true cost of his earlier decision. Only recently did the President recognize the harmful influence of fossil fuels on the environment. Today, he finally acknowledges the immediate need for a commitment to cleaner energy. Just as I slowly understood, the damage chemicals did to my hair, George W. now touts his mindfulness. There is a problem. The planet is in peril.
As death and destruction beckon for attention, George sees as I did when I looked into the mirror. Life, or the look, was out of balance. The natural beauty was gone. The breaks were bad. Chemicals had stripped the surface . . . of the land or my locks.
However, while Mister Bush sees a need for transformation, it seems he is, as I was, reluctant to recognize the seriousness of the situation. His does not act decisively to change what has become his [and our nations'] practice.
President Bush advised Americans to ponder alterative renewable sources for power. This country's Commander touted; viable resolutions for our energy crisis are easily accessible. "Biodiesel refineries can produce fuel from soybeans, and vegetable oils, and recycled cooking grease, from waste materials." The President proposed Americans could invest in clean energy. Indeed, he exclaimed; we must go green. However, for Mister Bush an emerald endeavor is black as oil or golden as bullion. This oilman has reaped many a reward from America's addiction, as have we all. Convenience is but one benefit cheap energy bestows upon the United States public. Profits have been more profound, more colorful for Chief Executive Bush.
Possibly, for the President charcoal is a fine hue. "George," if I might speak in the familiar, seems to think as I once did. One shade can be substituted for another. Only the more transparent tones cause George W. Bush much angst. Who will or how might moguls who have invested lifetimes of worth, as this oil magnate has, harness, the sun, the wind, and water. Mister Bush is unable to imagine a future so different from the life he and his family have long known. Thus, he avoids the option he says he appreciates, just as I eschewed the thought of using no tint at all on my mane. The untried did not ring true.
Attempts to transform what has been an American tradition are preferred by this President (and perhaps, the public.) George W. Bush speaks of clean coal, as though there is such a substance. Coal is a recognizable source of energy; yet, not a renewable or alternative choice. Coal generates 54% of the electricity used in the United States. Whilst he ran for President, candidate Bush pledged that he would commit $2 billion over 10 years to advance clean coal technology. Indeed, as promised, the National Energy Policy and budget requests to Congress demonstrated the President's dedication to this cause.
Few fear what they do not wish to accept. The Chief Executive favors an element that is essentially filthy. The President might muse clean coal is the change. Yet, he ignores that the hard black sedimentary rock is a health hazard to all it serves. This "plentiful" element pollutes when it is mined, transported to the power plant, stored, and burned. This combustible material destroys life throughout the global community. Many species cannot survive as well as man believes he might when nature is out of balance.
Equilibrium is the gracious essence that helps us to thrive. I too sought to sustain symmetry. I pondered the many ways in which my mane might maintain its sheen and still be enhanced. I hoped to find energy in color. When confronted with the notion that a tint could damage my tresses, I also contemplated other options. Clean dye; that was my criteria.
I assessed what I thought would be safe. With a similar pious conviction, I concluded henna could perhaps be a practical possibility . . . that is if I wanted to enhance the natural hue of my hair. At the time, this substitute seemed sensible to me. I thought only of what I believed true, just as George W. Bush does today. Plants are pure, plentiful, and will provide what I need . . . or want, perchance.
I had not authentically considered the possible predicament a product could cause. At first blush, I was content with what seemed an ideal and equal opportunity. Then, later, after I acknowledged my error, I was easily satisfied with what I trusted to be an indigenous replacement.
Now, cognizant of the connection between my hair and his history, I wonder; what concerns did George W. Bush weigh. Did he study the consequences of his choices? Did he hear or think to heed any of the cautions? Might President Bush have ruminated on the probable ruin of the land and lives? Could he have predicted what might happen if we raped the land to gratify our need for energy?
One never knows what is in the heart or mind of another. Nonetheless, as I reflect upon times gone by in my own life, I trust the President did not imagine, and perchance, still, he has no idea of what he reaped and sowed. I surely did not.
For me, awareness arrived slowly. As I processed my hair, I did not have the opportunity to notice the subtle changes. I was too close to the situation. I could not see what I did not wish to acknowledge. I suspect George W. Bush [and Americans absorbed in what feels, oh, so fine] do not realize what harm unhealthy dependence causes.
To dye or to die. To drive vehicles powered with fossil fuels or to authentically preserve the planet, which is now in peril. These might be the questions George and I avoided, or only addressed half-heartedly.
When I thought tinted hair was desirable, each alternative possibility required me to treat my hair with color. Upon reflection, I realize I had not known to think of how the texture or tone of my mane might change if I ingested a more nutritious diet. That is another story for another time. Today, I wonder. Was George open enough to evaluate horizons he had yet to explore?
As I gazed upon the President speaking of energy, I could not help but think of how Mister Bush said we must work to improve technology. He confidently confirmed, we can wean ourselves away from fossil fuels. In his own words the President espoused , "(A)t the same time" we must find "oil and gas here at home." The mantra is very familiar. It was mine. I believe this rationalization is reflected in the adage 'You can have your cake and eat it too.'
Indeed, for a very long time, I indulged in similar silly logic. As the blonde stain grew out, I said, I could refresh the look and limit my use of artificial satin all at the same time. Oh, if only that was possible. As long as dye is applied, the harmful effects of the treatment will not fade away. The problem was, and is, whether we speak of fossil fuels or human hair, the more you invest in the unhealthy habits you claim to condemn the less likely it is that change will come.
Much to our detriment, individuals such as George and I are, and mankind is, comfortable with the familiar. Humans are content to engage as they have for so long, regardless of whether a practice nourishes the body, soul, or the planet.
People may plan for or posit a change. George W. Bush emphatically pronounced, "(N)ow is the time to get it done." He or I might suggest a slow move towards purity. However, as my hair taught me, as long as I [or we] do as we have done, nothing will be different.
As long as I stained my mane, there was more reason to stain my mane. As long as America satisfies its addiction to oil, there is more reason to continue to gratify the love of gasoline. When manufacturers build more machines reliant on petroleum, they encourage a greater dependence on fossil fuels. An obsession for oil is as a mania for a colored mane. Each, initially, captivates an individual and then controls the person.
Most of us learn to love what we later determine may be detrimental.
George W. Bush, just as many Americans seem to be, is as I was. The President is caught in a horrific, harmful, spiral, and yet comfortable with what he knows and does. While the cost, to the environment, and to personal pocketbooks, may encourage a desire for change, convenience and expediency are enormously more persuasive. Oh, how well, I know this to be true.
I was once victim to a viability that made sense. The President and the American people are caught up in the same conundrum. If he, or we, fails to eliminate our physical and psychological, dependence on oil now there may not be a later.
To transform our reality we need to recognize the delicate dance for what it is. Just as less dye was an unwise compromise for me, limited selective, additional drilling is a concession with consequences. Partial progression will not alter our habituation. It is time to stop! To rethink, reinvent, to re-power our plants and public opinion is to truly care for our selves and for generations to come.
Resources or Reflections on Refinery . . .