Coordination Circle, Love The Everglades Movement
As for the matter that brings us here, I have found it necessary to participate in the effort to restore the Everglades because it's where my home (including my clan and Tribe) and heart resides. In my lifetime I've seen many destructive changes to our lands, such as the disintegration of tree islands, the disappearance of game animals, the increase of pollution in water, and the erosion of the Everglades. Because our culture is tied to the land (our ceremonies, our medicines, and many other spiritual practices), we are witnessing the gradual disappearance of our culture. We are losing our roots.
But we know there is hope; we can certainly steer this thing in the right direction, but it will take incredible coordination and resolve to manifest our dreams.
This is where our spirituality comes in.
Personally, I don't believe spirituality to be superstition or hollow, self-promoting, self-serving, self-comforting cliches.
Instead, it is about wisdom, insight, strength, patience, trust, and compassion, and in the face of great uncertainty and potential doom, this is exactly what we need. There are many great sages that have explored the struggles of the human condition in such a mysterious universe, peering deeply into our very being and place in the universe. There is much to learn for the sake of our global as well as local ecosystems.
With Love the Everglades Movement, LOVE is central to our cause because we do not want to be ruled by fear or anger. In fact, we know we cannot afford to be mindlessly distracted given what's at stake and the amount of time we have to make things right. We know that anger and fear, especially in a crisis situation, may galvanize some, but it can also blind us, divide us, perpetuate the delusion that we are factions bent on defeating one another, and thus undermine these important efforts.
In getting to know some of you, I've heard from you about other groups involved in this issue, and those comments have been disparaging. We are supposed to be the SOLUTION to this problem, otherwise our divisions are poison in the water. We do not have the luxury to bicker, but we can overcome this, in fact, we MUST overcome this. As someone with an outside perspective, this entrenched rift is off-putting, but it is also all too familiar, so I sympathize with you even as I am critical (our Tribe has been witness to entrenched bickering slowing the Everglades restoration effort to a glacial pace).
So how are we to overcome this bickering? -- this factionalism? Love & Respect is a good place to start. We have youngsters here among us and we must set a good example for them. Let's show them how to have a civil and civilized dialogue with one another.
Let's also continue to have forums for discussion, so we can increase understanding of our concerns and priorities and proposals for action.
Let's also ask for help from our friends, people such as you.
And let's not be afraid to disagree. Let's welcome disagreements and critiques as opportunities to learn where our proposals can be strengthened and improved.
Let me offer an example of constructive critique within a context of civilized discussion. Plan 6 and the Southern Flow way -- a very important proposal with definite room for improvement. The Holey lands are an area designated as O.F.W. -- Outstanding Federal Waters. From what I've read on Plan 6, there is not enough discussion or information about this important area: the Holey Lands, an area with very stringent regulations. Plan 6 would bring MORE WATER at a REDUCED QUALITY than is currently allowed and protected for. So the question that Plan 6 must answer to move forward with broader support is: How do you propose to degrade Outstanding Federal Waters with water from Lake Okeechobee?
As for the factionalism within our environmental movements, well those of us from Love The Everglades Movement pledge to work from a place of Love & Respect with each and everyone of you. WE WILL NOT TAKE SIDES. We will continue to express our Love and Respect for these waters.
We continue to pray for the purity of the waters flowing from the Kissimmee River Valley, through Lake Okeechobee, over the River of Grass, and out beyond Florida Bay.
We continue to pray that compassion flourishes in the hearts and minds of the decision-makers and stakeholders involved with Everglades Restoration.
We continue to pray for the growth of the community concerned with Everglades Matters -- because the Everglades matters.
And we will continue to stand with you in prayer for the integrity and vitality of the Circle of Life.
These are the challenges we are called to meet -- with hope, grace, and diplomacy.