June 6th, 2010 09:46 EST
Gulf Oil Spill Like Child Abuse Has Lasting Effects
Every child betrayed by an adult "that would include the church`s thousands if not millions of victims "instinctively at some fathomless depth understands the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico "
"understands because the child has been cleaning up the mess for the rest of his or her life, listening to adults lie and mislead and posture, holding the lives of the liars in once innocent hands because to blab would either destroy oneself or one`s abusers or both.
The oil pouring out of that pipeline at a depth where none can reach is very like the sin perpetrated on an innocent child while clapping a hand over the child`s mouth and enjoining the victim to keep a dread secret lest even worse things might happen.
And the truth is that worse things will happen if the secret is revealed, and the truth is that they must happen if anything like a healing is to take place.
But the victims of rape and molestation do not recover. Ever. They learn to cope. They learn to move on, but they have lost something irrevocably "their trust, their belief in a clean, illumined future. They will always jump when someone approaches them unawares. They will always have the jitters and jump up in panic in the middle of the night.
We call their symptoms post-traumatic stress. We used to call them shell shock. The Gulf states are now afflicted with post-traumatic stress. And the more the oil comes ashore the more all of us suffer the symptoms. But we must not do what we have encouraged children to do "shut their mouths and take care of their betrayers.
The story of the church`s monumental and ongoing betrayal of its people is not the inquiries, not the reparations, not the barely adequate apologies, not the smarm and sometimes pure evil of the response. No, the story is the raw courage of the victims who have finally understood that they must defy society`s wishes that they remain silent.
The black dread coming ashore is a metaphor for the lives of the victims of rape and molestation and other abuse. It keeps on coming. And no boom, no berm, no politician`s mock indignation, no apology, no reparation will ever repair the damage.
There are those who like to think of the earth as Gaia, the primordial earth goddess, and in this instance that is wonderfully apt. And so are the phallic drill shafts. But it is one thing to rape a child and demand that he or she keep the family secret in order not to upset the order of things; it is quite another to trespass Gaia. There will be consequences. There are consequences. And not all BP`s dissembling or all Bobby Jindal`s theatrical finger-pointing or all Barack Obama`s reasoning or all the industry`s buck-passing will change the terrible fact that that oil will keep on coming ashore long after the beaches are again bustling with swimmers and the fishing fleets have again put out to sea.
Gaia goes on, the child goes on, but the memories linger and nothing is ever the same again.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com