Week #7: Shell vs. Ogoni / Toxic Culture

The fight between the petroleum company, Shell, and the Ogoni people of Nigeria was an unfortunate event of environmental and humanitarian issues that occurred during the 1990s. Shell’s extraction of oil in the Ogoniland of the Nigeria Delta polluted and damaged the land, and as a result, the Ogoni people protested nonviolently. To stop these movements, Shell paid the Nigerian military to take action, which happened to be through genocide. Ken Saro-Wiwa was the president of MOSOP, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. He spread awareness of what Shell was doing and led the peaceful movements. The Nigerian government was after Saro-Wiwa after Shell had finally abandoned the Ogoniland, and eventually had Saro-Wiwa hung for his “crimes.” Watching this documentary and seeing footage of those who suffered reminded me of how America was when it was first colonized. The Native Americans were treated the same way when the Europeans arrived and both took their resources and violated all the innocent people’s basic human rights. It made me very sad to know that this horrific behavior and history repeats itself as Shell knowingly let the harm and murder happen to innocent people. One of the best ways to end this type of behavior would be through news and spreading awareness. It was a great thing that Ken Saro-Wiwa worked to protect his people, and his son had continued spreading awareness about what had happened to his father as well. Regular civilians are able to help end corrupt behavior by not supporting these large companies. Protesting helps too, as it brings attention to the company’s toxic acts. As light is shined on a company, the company must take action, and hopefully it is that they no longer participate in inhumane ways. Education is important as well, because for some time, people did not know of what Shell was doing. Shell was able to bribe people from speaking to the media and other false information was released as a result too. It would help for people to do some research on where some of their goods come from and educate both themselves and others while they’re at it. Hopefully people realize it’s possible to make a difference and fight for the freedom of others by watching what has happened between Shell and the Ogoni people.

In “Toxic Culture,” Gabor Mate speaks of how society can affect a person physiologically, even though many people may not think of this. The psychosocial environment of a young one can affect their future behavior through a chain reaction. For example, if a pregnant woman is very stressed during pregnancy, then the chemical signals in her body can affect the development of her child. The baby would not have the healthiest development, and as a child, he/she may also develop disorders such as ADHD. In general, initial environment and stress the mother experienced during pregnancy can affect long-term development. I believe both the conditions of psychosocial environment and natural environment are equally important to a person’s well-being. Both environments will affect a person physiologically. The way a child grows up in their household is dependent on the experiences they have with their parents, which is the psychosocial aspect. If the same child’s family happened to live in a city where a lot of pollution occurs due to factories, then the environmental aspect would greatly affect the child’s health. Both types of environments should be considered because they both can be connected in some type of way, depending on the situation. One should not be overlooked more than the other when observing issues in our culture/economy.