My friends often call me a "tree hugger" and ask me if I want to "save the whales." Well, yes, I love to be in the woods, and I do not want to see them gone. And, yes, if a Right Whale where to wash up on St. Augustine Beach, I would be there to help get it back in the water. However, I do not participate in the blind environmentalism that many people in this country do (*cough**cough*Al Gore*cough*)
Seeing the destruction of natural areas in Florida is horrible, yes, but this is only a visible symptom of a deeper problem: the destruction of a people...a people with unique lives, values, and feelings. I am one of those people...one of the last of my people.
I visited a subdivision last Saturday that is being built on a potato farm that a member of my family used to own. Seeing the cookie-cutter houses on a piece of land that my family has owned for centuries did not sit well with me.
It was a farm. It wasn't a forest with Gophers and woodpeckers, and it wasn't a swamp with Bartram's Ixia and gators. It was a dang potato farm...bad for the environment.
So, what's the problem?
You can set aside nice little preserves to protect plants and animals. You cannot confine a people to a "Florida Cracker Preserve" or a "Minorcan Island." You get to a boiling point, and once it is reached, a culture will disappear forever...It will become blended with the invading culture, or it will be spread out to the point that it dies out within a few generations. This is what happened to the Native American peoples who were able to survive the illnesses that European invaders brought with them. They are fortunate, though, in that they DO have reservations just for them...Lucky souls.
The saddest thing to ever occur in my homeland since the destruction of the Timucuans or the displacement of the Seminoles, is the ongoing extinction of the Florida Cracker and Minorcan cultures...Much more sad than the ongoing extinction of the Gopher Tortoise.
These people moving into these cookie-cutter subdivisions, these people moving from whatever cultureless landscape from which they came, will never understand the pain of watching their culture get destroyed by foreigners. It's the modern War Between the States...It's an invasion.
This, my friends, is the reason I oppose development. I love the swamp, I love the woods, I love the mighty St. Johns, I love animals, I love plants, I love gators, I love ancient cypress trees, I love all this...But I love my people more.
If only they felt the pain...