The Common Good

Voices from the Gulf: Deep Sorrow in New Orleans

voices from the gulf2

Editor's note: This week, God's Politics is launching "Voices From the Gulf" -- a series of posts from people experiencing first-hand the devastating effects of the worst oil spill in American history. Check back often for more stories each week.

It's hard for me to speak about the oil spill because the sorrow I feel touches the deepest part of my being. I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and have spent 60 of my 70 years ministering in New Orleans. After the initial shock of the explosion and the loss of 11 lives, you feel angry and then you pass from anger to sadness. Each day on the news you hear of another local business closing (some after more than than 130 years in operation) because the oystermen or fishermen cannot get the seafood that is the life-blood of Louisiana's cuisine. It's estimated that before this is over, more than 500,000 workers will be out of work, and this is directly related to the oil spill.

Hurricane Katrina was very hard, but you could see an end. You could rebuild and continue your way of life. The oil spill is different. You can't see an end, or the end you see is the death of a way of life, of a culture, and this is sad.

Hopefully the oil spill has educated people of the importance of the estuaries and other coastal areas of the Gulf. I hope and pray that this disaster has made people aware of the need for alternative sources of energy. Above all I hope this disaster has awoken us to our responsibility to care for creation knowing that we are the caretakers, and not the landlords, of God's creation. I hope and pray this disaster moves us to take action to support a national environmental policy that is respectful of creation and not just concerned with doing the minimum so a corporation can show greater profit. Changing our nation's environmental policy is going to call for sacrifice in our level of comfort, but this is small compared to sacrificing the lives of humans, wildlife, and the health of our rivers and seas.

I am thankful for people across the United States for sending messages of concern, prayers, and the great numbers who are volunteering to help with the clean-up. For me, the most effective thing anyone can do is to take action to change the system that allowed this tragedy to happen. The system needs to change so this kind of human-made tragedy never happens again.

I am not anti-business. However we need to make business as responsible for caring for creation as we are ourselves. We need to harness the expertise of business, government, science, and most of all the locals of Louisiana and move to stop the spread of oil and clean up this environmental disaster.

Jane Remson lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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