Small Wonders: Oil on troubled waters

May 29, 2010|Patrick Caneday

I've been feeling like one of those oil-covered sea gulls on a beach in Louisiana.

Every morning I get up and take a look at the newspaper. I glance at the headline, usually in dismay, then automatically flip to the bottom of the page to see who died. It's morbid, I know. But it's just habit. And you probably do it too.

On Monday it was former Dodgers pitcher Jose Lima's picture at the bottom of the front page. He was only 37 years old, five years younger than me. That's hard to swallow.


He was recently working to open a youth baseball academy nearby. But Sunday he died of an apparent heart attack. Taken too soon.

So long, "Lima Time."

The other news I'm having a hard time with is the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. Every day for the last month the news has gotten worse. Last week's estimates of the size and damage are surpassed this week with new and even more depressing information. Every time you think it couldn't get any worse, or more implausible, it does. It's like each season of "24."

Every politician and pundit with a microphone or a blog is blaming each other. And I don't think any of them care who's really to blame. That doesn't matter so long as we can point the finger at someone else. This is especially helpful if we're running for public office, promoting our cable "news" show or trying to sell a book. Or all three at the same time.

The truth is irrelevant because in today's culture it's not about right and wrong. It's about ratings, tweets, site hits, polls, profits and image. The quicker and flashier the sound bite, the better. It doesn't matter what you say because tomorrow everyone will have been distracted by something else. When was the last time you thought about Haiti?

That oil spill feels like a thick, black sheet over me. And I can't do anything about it. Or anything else going on in the world. Home sales soar, but the stock market plummets, and everything still seems unaffordable.

A 13 year-old climbs Mt. Everest, but childhood obesity is pandemic in our country.

Teachers' jobs were saved, but we're paying them even less to do one of the most important jobs in the world.

The same heart that wants to give kids a safe and healthy baseball camp isn't strong enough to get him there. Thousands flock to foreign lands to help the helpless, while so many others find a way to profit off their misery.

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