Funny how little things can have big consequences. We all know big things can have big consequences, but that is not my current point.
Take for example Barack Obama and his pesky priest. How can you make a man president when he sits for twenty years listening to that hateful sermon? One little priest spouting his venom may derail what could have been an historic advance.
They say Churchill became Prime Minister only because the favored candidate had to get one broken tooth fixed and was not there at the crucial vote. But for a tooth, I might now be blogging in German.
Then this morning come news that “of migrating ducks are dead or dying after landing on a tailings pond owned by Syncrude Canada Ltd. and ice surrounding the small lake full of toxic sludge is hampering rescue efforts. Company and government officials estimate there are roughly 500 birds trapped in the toxic pond in a disaster that has never before been witnessed in the northern Alberta oilsands region.”
We can argue whether 500 ducks is a small thing or a big thing. I submit 500 is small in the game of the oil sands–just like 300 was small in the case of the defence of Greece, saving western civilization, and the defeat of the Persians under Xerxes.
The silly part is this: “Stelmach [the Premier of Alberta] said he’s concerned that Syncrude did not report the incident and the government was alerted by a tipster who called Monday night.”
Naturally the activists are active; three quotes this score:
- Today we have 500 more canaries and 500 more reasons why we need to put the brakes to this project,” said spokesman Mike Hudema. “The fact that this devastating incident wasn’t reported by Syncrude begs the question of how many other incidents have been quietly covered up to safeguard their image.”
- The inadequacies of the government’s ability to monitor even the most basic environmental safeguards put on tarsands development” and suggested the province’s investigation should look at its own close relationship with the oil industry.
- The Americans are developing a law that will restrict imports of “dirty oil” that produce more greenhouse gas emissions than other sources. Environmentalists say that should include the synthetic crude produced from the tar-like bitumen in northern Alberta.
Point is that neither one tooth, nor one priest, nor 300 dead Greeks, nor 500 ducks are big numbers. All are tiny events in the grand scheme of things. But these little incidents do have profound consequences. And rightly so, for they are the barometer, the canary, that signposts our attention to bigger pictures that are more easily hidden, obfuscated, or obscured behind smoke screens.
We are sad to see the negative side of Obama and Syncrude. We believe both are essentially good, sincere, and striving to make our lives better. But in the scheme of things so was Xerxes–and he was defeated by 300. Let us hope that one silly priest and 500 ducks do not have the same impact.