The BP oil well disaster and the long-term, if not permanent, effects it is having in the Gulf of Mexico weigh heavily on my mind and heart – as it does for so many others that I know.  As of this writing, the open wound and bleeding from Mother Earth has yet to be stopped, let along the cleanup that must occur happen once it is.

Victimization abounds.  Wildlife. Fishermen. Others whose livelihoods and homes are sullied by this man-made environmental disaster.  The news is filled with the pictures and voices of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT): Victims decrying Persecutors (BP, the federal government, etc.) and imploring would-be Rescuers to “do something.”

Like a distant witness to an accident, I stand helplessly by, wondering what in the world I can do.  It’s the same way I have felt after hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other environmental disasters (natural, as well as man-made).

It is in times like these (among others), that I remember the sage wisdom of the well known Serenity Prayer (originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr):

God, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Turning to the prayer as a way of personally coping with distant environmental disasters may seem like an odd application of its wisdom.

As a Creator, there is nothing that I can do or change about such disasters.  However, I can see times like these as a Challenger and a call-to-action to “change the things I can.”  Whether it is donating time, money or other resources to disaster relief funds or, in the case of this oil-related disaster, making lifestyle choices (using mass transit, riding my bike, conserving my use of petroleum and other forms of energy, etc.) – I pray for the wisdom to choose an appropriate and informed response, rather than to merely “stick my head in the sand” and deny reality.

Coping with environmental disasters in this way helps me balance compassion and, yes, sadness with the courage to take those actions that are mine to take – while not getting pulled into DDT dynamics myself.

(I’d love to hear how others cope with such disasters.)