It’s the end of June, 2016. A fight for protecting our Indian River Lagoon from ooze being discharged from Lake Okeechobee has lasted decades. I’m not a historian, a scientist or even very well versed on the intricacies of our water issues polluting our beloved peninsula. I am, an outraged and tired River Warrior nonetheless.
I’ve had the privileged of working on several local river events and attend grassroots peaceful protests and demonstrations. I do my best to be a river advocate on social media, sharing the information that curses my newsfeed. I’m humbled to have welcomed friends home from Washington D.C .,after they raised money to ride a bus to advocate for our Lagoon in front of Congress. And I’ve done maybe 5% of the work I see from other River Warriors.
A couple of us went for a beer after today’s rally. We sat feeling a smudge guilty drinking a cold one knowing our fellow river advocates were still protesting. As we sat there, we noticed who was fighting for our waters and who wasn’t. Most of the river warriors I know don’t live on the water and will likely never be able to afford to in Martin County. Yet, they fight and fight. They sacrifice time from their families, income, and lose sleep for the cause. They do so because they love Mother Nature’s gifts and they know clean water is necessary for survival. We couldn’t help but wonder where are the river front owners and local business? Where are the marinas and all waterfront land owners? Where are the people that love the sandbar and own boats? Where are the fishermen? Where are the children of all of these being afflicted by toxic green algae and a slowly dying estuary (The most diverse estuary in the country/world, by the way.)?
And then it occurred to me, if people fought for water like they fought to bare arms, maybe we would have a chance to win against the ecoterrorism our own government IS allowing. So, why don’t we fight for water like we do guns?
In the 18th century the right to have arms was quoted by Sir William Blackstone as being “auxiliary to the natural right of resistance and self-preservation“. I believe clean water to be auxiliary to the natural right of resistance and self-preservation. Gun advocates (and I’m not saying I’m not one of those either) advocate and fight for this right in the case one might need to protect their homesteads. At worse, we might need to one day protect ourselves from corrupt domestic and international governments. Many stand behind the statement, “I Love My Country, but Fear My Government” and we buy more guns and more ammo.
But, we are being duped. While we are distracted by talk of gun control laws, the threat of our 2nd amendment, and a government that is taking away our rights one at a time, our leaders and protectors are slowly killing us over politics and the “cost” of fixing the water issues in Florida. I’m talking about what is happening here because I’m watching it, I’m feeling it, my quality of life is affected by it. Truth be told, this occurs across United States of America. Communities are crying, screaming, protesting, lobbying, educating, and fighting the war for the right to clean water. Different communities, different toxins, but still changing and dying ecosystems.
But, it’s not happening quickly. It’s not a bullet to the head. It’s more like a slow progression, like toxins turning into a long progressive, chronic disease, like the effects of 2nd hand cigarette smoke. It’s easy to ignore. Just don’t look at the green water or drive by it with the windows down and don’t worry, the ooze, eases, for a bit.
My 3 year journey as a self-proclaimed river warrior has consisted of meeting some of the most passionate, selfless folks I’ve ever encountered. You can’t imagine the drama, conflicts, pain and loss that comes with grassroots activism. It’s not easy and it’s not for the faint of heart. Admitting, that’s why I just do my 5%. I can’t hack it. I’m too selfish and into self-preservation to do more than that. But, I do my part because I see a future where my great grandchildren may never know what it is like to wash your worries away in a salty ocean. I see a future where they will never know what it is like to be paddling, or surfing, or boating and to be greeted by a pod of dolphins. I see a future where all the fish are farm raised, and the birds no longer fly. I see story books that say, “Once Upon a Time there were fish in the ocean and manatees in the bay….”
We’ve met old warriors who told us we are fighting a loosing battle and our future is glim. They wish us well and pray for us from the sidelines because they are tired from doing their part. This will happen again, if more folks don’t rise up and join us. Give us your 5 percent! Fight for clean water like you would fight for your guns.
The next several months are crucial to any influence we might have in the immediate future. The time is now. What our “river – forefathers” (and scientist too) told us would be happen is happening right now in our backyard, at our beach, under our bridges. Please join us so today’s predictions never comes true.
For a list of river friendly politicians and facts about the Lake Okeechoobee discharges visit www.BullSugar.org
For historical information and what’s been done information visit www.riverscoalition.org
If you’re mad call some of these guys and tell them why: Rick Scott, 850-488-7146, Army Corps of Engineers 904-232-2568, Patrick Murphy Phone-772-781-3266
Follow this blog: www.jacquithurlowlipisch.com
Share information on your social media, show up to events, write letters, do what you can.