eagle_nebula1.jpg (6836 bytes)



Let It Be

By Will Baker

It seems to me that sometimes, our love can best be demonstrated by staying away. A good example of this might be what is currently occurring in the waters off Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. Earlier this week the fuel oil tanker Jessica ran aground spilling approximately 100,000 gallons of oil less than one half mile from the shore of the archipelago's eastern most island, San Cristobal. As you may know, the Galapagos Islands are home to hundreds of species that have evolved for thousands of years in isolation and with little human intervention. And of course, British naturalist Charles Darwin visited there in 1835, and subsequently developed his theories of national selection.

And what was this fuel oil tanker doing there? Well among other things it was delivering fuel to a tour boat, which was busily engaged in providing its patrons with an up-close and personal visit to the islands. What irony, that these folks, who no doubt paid handsomely to make this visit, motivated I am sure by a love of nature and a desire to experience this unique environment, by their very presence caused great harm. And I am equally certain that these were, by and large good people, who perhaps even consider themselves to be environmentalists.

It occurs to me: what power we have as consumers. There was clearly the desire among these would-be naturalists to visit the islands; or else the commercial tours would not have been running. After all, is not the mantra for our age "Give the people what they want?" But I can’t resist the urge to wonder whether the folks would have made this visit, had they known of the environmental risks associated with their chosen form of recreation. And that gets to the heart of my thesis: maybe sometimes it really is better to stay away, out of love. For had they done so, there is no doubt that this unique and pristine environment would certainly have been better off.

And perhaps this notion might have a somewhat broader application. Based upon my personal experience, it seems to me that in some instances, it might relate to relationships as well. And under those circumstances, I imagine that it might not be an easy thing to do…to stay away. One could quite easily wreck a "tanker" upon an emotional reef, and do great harm.

Be it a precious person or a unique archipelago, sometimes the thing to do is to stay away. But doing is truly harder than talking. And it seems to me that we all do sometimes feel as if this world is our oyster, not our home and space ship that it really is. And we do want it now, and we want it all. And more and more, we have the power to pursue those things that we want. But that is where our ability to make wise choices comes in to play. For the choices that we make not only define who and what we are, but they effect the world about us. One need only look to what is going on in the Galapagos to see the validity of this statement. Yet, sadly, one need not look as far as the coast of Argentina--there are shattered lives all about, ruined by the choices that were made. A "bit of heavy topic" as someone once said…yes, yet very true.

As human beings, I believe that it is natural for us to place ourselves at the center of our existences. But does that mean that this has to be to the exclusion of all else? There is a market for tour boats off the Galapagos because folks will pay, without considering the consequences of their actions. As with most things, this is all about choices, and how those choices define us as people. I feel badly for the folks that were on that tour boat. How dismayed and foolish they must feel, to be partly responsible for such an unfortunate incident. Yet perhaps some good might come of it. Looking back, it seems pretty obvious that running tour boats in such a special place is ill-advised at best, and perhaps criminal at worst. So maybe there will be a public out-cry to stop these tours…But lo, I can see folks gathering in small circles, as the soft chanting begins…"give the people what they want…give the people what they want." And then the developer says: "hey, San Cristobal would make a great location for the next Club Med.



 (Essay Collection)