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The principle of the thing

December 16, 2012
The Herald-Star

To the editor:

I was waiting to see my doctor, and I overheard some people talking. "Did you lease?" "Yes, they will get it one way or the other, I might as well get paid." "I have 140 acres. That is a good amount of money." My heart sank. I realized at that moment that my life was worth less than the money that those people received for leasing their land for natural gas extraction. Not only my life, but their grandchildren's lives, their children's lives, and the lives of everyone they love that will outlive them. Right before me was the age-old battle, money versus everything good.

There is a American Indian proverb: We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. The purpose of this letter is not to criminalize those who support this industry. The purpose is to connect on a personal level. A plea from a 22-year-old, with so much "promise" and "potential," to my respected elder.

All my life, I have been told to treat others the way I want to be treated, try my best in everything I do, and always leave a place nicer than how it was when I arrived. All important life lessons, but the latter is my focus. To leave a place nicer than how it was extends beyond what can fit under a roof. The world does not revolve around me, or you for that matter, it revolves around us. Would I love to be paid a lot of money? Yes. Is that money worth getting in the way of the "promise" and "potential" of those coming after me? No. I am asking that you acknowledge the facts. You're right, not all sites initially lead to water contamination, killing livestock and causing horrible illnesses in the people within surrounding communities. But they inevitably do with time.

The decisions you make concerning how people and the environment are treated affect me because I am both a person and a steward of the land.

I will do everything in my power to make sure that people and the land in which they occupy, and are dependent upon to survive, are taken care of. God gave man dominion over the Earth. This does not mean, however, that man should take for granted the earth's gifts. Rather, that man has a responsibility to care for and nurture what he watches over so that his children and his children's children have just as much, if not more, possibility than he had.

I still have hope in my young heart. Please, treat each other and the earth well, so that not only me, but my siblings, neighbors, your children, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews, will have an even fuller life than you. Do your homework. Make sure the long-term effects are worth the short-term gains. Take all the necessary precautions to ensure that the future does not just come, but that it's beautiful.

Caitlin Estrada


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