The Common Good

Voices from the Gulf: We Arise to the Putrid Scent of Oil

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Editor's note: "Voices From the Gulf" is 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.

I live directly on the Gulf Coast, my home being just fifteen minutes to the public beach and a mere bike ride to surrounding marshes, bays, and inlets, which are the local hidden treasures of our tourist community, Gulf Shores, Alabama.

I have always found it to be an amazing blessing to live so near one of the most majestic and powerful examples of God's sheer beauty. I could not recount the countless hours I have spent laughing, playing, praying, crying, and just being still on the majestic white sands that we call home. Most Saturday mornings as a child, cleaning beach houses with my mom, I would shirk my duties and stare into the waves, hoping to catch just a glimpse of playing porpoises, and many times was rewarded with such wonderment. I was raised picking shells, and running from sand crabs, searching for the best hermit crabs to race, and watching where I stepped for alligators and jellyfish!

Every new year brought even greater adventures. Whether it was playing with leopard manta rays, or watching out for sharks as my friends and I jumped into rushing passes or swam in dark waters. The great mysteries of the ocean have never ceased to amaze me. (I mean, have you ever seen glowing green sand at night?)

However, today is a very different story. Instead of waking to the smell of salt air, we arise to a warm, putrid scent of oil. The same hermit crabs I raced are leaving the waters covered in a sticky brown goo and drying up on our shores. The porpoises that made me jump with glee, no matter what my age, are washing up on our sand bars. The sea turtles have lost their place to nest, and our birds, naturally diving into the waters for food, are losing that most precious ability to fly.

Living in such a community, the effect the spill has on our economy does not just effect the local fisherman -- who make their direct income from our waters or other careers of the like -- but the spill has also made a direct consequence on every family. Without the tourist season, stores of every kind are having to cut hours, leaving their employees lacking in efficient paychecks, or without a job at all.

If I could ask anything, it would be the mercy of those who have the ability to help. To those who would usually vacation for the peace of the beach, come help us clean it up! Volunteer your time away from school or work to help us make a difference, because even if it is just a getaway for you, it is home to us.

God has placed us in care over creation, this living specimen of God's very own majesty, and as a family we must work together to help right as much of this tragedy as we can. Get mad at oil tycoons all you want, but if we're not doing anything, we are just as much to blame.

Jenny Perrin lives in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

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