A letter to my people
All individuals have the right to equality, equal opportunity, fair treatment and an environment free of pollutants. What we have seen in the Gulf, and around the world, is an infringement upon both our civil rights and our human rights. So the question is: What are you going to do about it?
To the people of the United States of America:
For those of you who are reading this and do not know me. Let me introduce myself, my name is Cherri Foytlin, I am a mother of 6, and a wife to one devoted husband. We live in the Gulf of Mexico, and my husband is an offshore oil worker who has been home for 8 months now, due to the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf. We are still not working, I am sad to report, and yet the over a billion dollars sent to Mexico and South America to drill in the Gulf by our country, and the money China has invested in Cuba to drill, is in preparation, if not full operations.
But the bypassing of the American worker is not why I have written this, nor is the continuing impact of an oil catastrophe you are being told is over. While fresh and weathered oil, and dead wildlife, invade our shores daily; and our countrymen are battling illness from the effects; and our fishermen and citizens try to seek justice from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility that has been so incompetent in addressing their needs; and our waters and marshes wither and die; I come to you today to talk about life - yours and mine.
The American Dream, for some, began with those who came here to escape nightmares in their homelands. Some found their nightmares here. Our forefathers are an odd mix: they were here before - living righteously on the earth, they came by boat and over mountains in search of a voice for their children, they came in chains that they broke themselves over years of steady pressure on the link. Whatever the background of our genes, you are the children of survivors, and they are in us all.
Our founders, not one, were not a perfect people - a fact that is not to be ignored. They were multi-dimensional, just as we are today. And yet in their daily life, by living, they changed the course of human events - just as we are today.
They, every single one, left in their will a silent and compelling promise to us each. Whatever they were, they left to us a future of ability, we are their living testimony to survival and love. And within that legacy, a society hosted by individual talents and the abilities of a free, self-governed people that could come together, harnessed to the service of a collective goodness and dictate their own future.
America’s first principles are basic and simple, that we govern ourselves. These principles are lighthouses to us in the process of doing so. They are keys we have been entrusted to, and someday will pass on to our own children.
These principles are not partisan issues, they are emancipation proclamations.
Citizenship means more than paying taxes and voting; it is a powerful expression of self, and in the absence of our participation and exaltation, we are now giving it away.
And that is why I write this letter. The Gulf Oil Catastrophe of 2010, has awakened me to the understanding that in order for us to seek a sustainable future for our children, several things must begin to happen, and they must begin from within the chambers of every single living heart who walks this earth today.
We must begin to stand and reach for the legacy we have been given; we must find within ourselves, the true power of ourselves. We must claim responsibility as the heirs of a collective group of visions; we must - as will our children, chose to remove the yoke of serfdom and bravely set forth on our path to greatness.
The first American principles are simple, yet too few of us are passionate about protecting them, in fact many have become passive to them. If you do not nourish yourself with good things to eat, will not your body wither and become weak? We, as a people, have not nourished our hearts and soul with the fresh fruits of freedom and individualistic thought for some time now, and as seen by the response to our land and catastrophes, our country and ideals have become weakened as well.
Civil rights are defined as the right of an individual to receive equal treatment in a number of settings; including education, employment, housing, and more. From what I have seen in the last 8 months here in the Gulf, we are all in grave danger of losing our civil rights, only this time it is not a burden upon one group or race, it is our whole nation that is under the duress.
It is not symptomatic of a free and equal society when some put profits over lives, nor is it when others agree to the injustice by letting themselves be distracted from it - either by apathy or disgust.
Human rights are dictates which have been given by the Creator to us, the stewards of the earth. It is a universal product of enlightenment, and has been guaranteed by God, if we not let it be taken from us by our own accord.
I suggest to you that it is the essential, most important, basic right of mankind to have clean air, with which to breathe; and clean water to drink and live from. Our oceans, once abundant, are now ill. Our air, given to us clean, has been invaded by toxins. And what of the streams and rivers? Are these not God given as well?
All individuals have the right to equality, equal opportunity, fair treatment and an environment free of pollutants.
What we have seen in the Gulf, and around the world, is an infringement upon both our civil rights and our human rights.
So the question is: What are you going to do about it?
This will come to you, although I pray that it does not. It is invading every part of our world and society. Within our sleep grows a cancer that threatens us, and unless there is a true attempt to heal the wounds of these civil and humanitarian attacks, we will lose our opportunity to pass liberty, freedom and a healthy planet onto our children.
Again, the responsibility lies squarely upon our shoulders. We have given it away, but we can also reclaim it.
I know that the answers that we seek are not to be found in an outside source. Superman does not exist, and there is no way to turn back time. We can only move forward from here, accept our past faults, atone for our failings, and rise to our commission.
And that is what I am humbly asking you to do today. Clean air and clean water are human rights. Individualistic freedoms are civil rights - these are our issues. Let us create the movement for such, beginning in our very own hearts.
And peace be with you, whether you agree or do not. Whether you will rise, or remain a spectator, I am pledging myself to you and our children. The first step we must take is to vow utility to each other, we must humble ourselves in servitude to our people and future. Who of you will join me in doing that, on this day, in this land, on our Earth, for our people?
Cherri Foytlin is an oil worker's wife, mother of six, Louisiana resident and journalist whose family has been deeply impacted by the BP Gulf Oil Spill and consequential moratorium on deep water drilling. She has been a constant voice, speaking out to the Obama Administration's Gulf Oil Spill Commission, and in countless forms of media. On July 15, 2010, in a CNN interview, she called out to the president for help, but was unanswered. She has also spoken at "The Rally for Economic Survival" and at the "Spill Into Washington Rally" in Washington D.C.where she challenged the American people to get involved in what she sees as an "atrocity on the shores" of the Gulf Coast. In addition, Cherri has written and illustrated a children's coloring book on coastal erosion. Cherri will continue her fight for the industries, people, culture and wildlife of south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast "until we are made whole again".