"Soul of the Gulf":
I do not have many clear memories of my childhood. But the one that is most vivid is of a day in September when my friend and I hauled oil-soaked ducks in our wagons from the beach in southern New Jersey to her mothers laundry room. I had not heard my parents talk of an oil spill nor was there any environmental organization instructing citizens on what to do to save these poor creatures. It was just my friend and I trying to figure out why we could not get this oil off the feathers with laundry detergent. As the day drew on and we grew more and more sticky with this dark coating of death, we were tasked with towing the birds back to the beach for their sad
burial in the sand.
For most of the year, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico embrace the western shoreline of Florida with a calm hand. We are cupped in her protective palm until the inevitable hurricane passes into the Gulf, reminding us of the power this body of water has over the borrowed land we call home. The hurricane by whatever its nameCharlie, Wilma, Katrinais a reminder that we cannot control or dominate nature, that we must listen, for nature always has something to say. We cannot manipulate or destroy in the name of dollars. The Gulf has a spirit that is linked to our own. Science cannot shout down justice. Policy will not replace health. Economics is not spirituality.
I have not read any concrete evidence that drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for oil will improve our lives. With such a large number of hard-working individuals searching to better their quality of life, the probing and drilling of such an incredible body of water will only add to the helplessness of despair. We know that drilling for oil off the coast of Florida will put our sea turtles, whales, fisheries, shorebirds, and local economies at serious risk. Just as importantly, drilling would impact our sense of place. At a time when humanity is searching for hope, we need the magnificence of our natural wonders. Looking out at the seathe Gulf of Mexico with only clouds, a sunset, or the silhouette of a sailboat to interrupt the horizon, we see endless possibilities. With thousands of visitors sharing this experience with residents, the Gulf touches so many every day.
We calculate risks and benefits with statistics from research. But can we analyze the human spirit and how our constant quest to probe nature for economic wealth affects our mental and spiritual health?
Each time we scar nature, we scar our own souls. With every violation of an eco-system, we see the impact heading towards our own well being. Our health is directly linked to the health of this earth and the waters that balance the elements. We cannot probe, drill, or dig without consequences. If the oil companies try to harness the energy in the Gulf of Mexico, we will see a negative impact on the energy surrounding these waters.
My body and spirit were born from the sea. Through osmosis my cells contain salt water. I am able to feel the oceans turbulence when it is roiling and its peace when it is still. I know that I must live close to this life-giving element of my being. I also must speak for what gives me life, for the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are vibrating with the terror of the possibility of this violent penetrationshe would much prefer to float platforms of wind turbines.
The time has come to consider spirituality alongside science, and to consider that healthy economics means a healthy natural world and that the actions of the community are linked to our spirit. Do not drill into our soul.