As we move towards the culmination of our goal of establishing a marine monument, we wish to offer this letter of gratitude to all those who have helped us reach this point in our journey.
The idea was a quite simple one: preserve the waters, along with the richness and biodiversity within, for this and future generations. As we stated in our formal request to President George W. Bush, “Declaring the waters as a monument would expedite the process of bringing protection to the precious resources found in the waters there, while establishing specific federal responsibilities toward governance of the Monument, and enhancing our ocean legacy.”
Yet, as simple as the idea was, the journey to see its fruition has been one fraught with challenges. They were challenges, however, for which we were prepared.
Scientists will tell you that any new theory is first rejected as false, then dismissed as trivial, then accepted as important--but known all along. (1. The theory is not true; 2. The theory is true, but it is unimportant; 3. The theory is true, and it is important – but we knew it all along.) So, we suffered the slings and arrows of doubts from some…and we persevered.
Marketers will tell you that every new innovation goes through the stages of awareness, interest, evaluation, and trial before it is accepted. So, as interest mounted, we educated the masses about the benefits of such a monument to the CNMI… and we persevered.
Philosophers will tell you that all truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as being self-evident. So, we responded to allegations of deception from our critics… and we persevered.
Playwrights will tell you that every great story must have conflict. It is the heart of drama. (Someone wants something, and people and things keep getting in the way of them achieving the goal.) So, we tolerated the media spin that portrayed the chasm between Monument supporters and critics; a spin which at times minimized the overwhelming support for the monument from within our community….and we persevered.
Finally, all of life's great achievers will tell you there is no victory without struggle, so we accepted the role of those who positioned themselves as our opponents, for we recognized the role of the opposition in every new theory, every new innovation, all truth, and every great story.
We realize, with all the attacks, the suspicion, the pace of change, the drama, the conflict, struggle, and false statements, the real danger lies not in our acceptance of the monument, but in allowing things to continue as they are. It is a fact that the health of our oceans continues to decline every year. Without intervention, species will disappear, reefs will die, and we will lose what has been described as “one of the most unique geological and biological environments on Earth.”
In fact, the most compelling ‘danger’ of a new revolutionary theory is the real and present harm its acceptance would inflict on the power, wealth or prestige of adherents to the already-existing theory. We are aware that there are those who feel their power, wealth or prestige are at stake. To them, we offer the assurance that we, like them, seek only the best for our children and future generations. We are willing to sacrifice a little in the interest of future need.
And, there is no victory without the efforts of those who have helped take this from a seed of an idea to being a part of the conversations within the highest echelons of power within these United States. Therefore, it is with a sense of gratitude that we, the Friends of the Monument, thank the following:
We thank the scores of volunteers who donated countless hours helping our community become educated, and speak out about an issue important to the CNMI. Thank you.
We thank the 5,632 residents (and growing, on an island of 13,000 indigenous and 60,000 total population) who have signed our petition. Thank you.
We thank the business leaders who have come out bravely in support of the idea, and who have written letters to the media as well as to President Bush voicing their support. Thank you.
We are thankful of the increasing coverage by the world media that has helped us shine a light on the natural beauty deserving of our attention and preservation. Thank you.
We thank James Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality for his valuable time and energy listening to the concerns of our leaders and community. Thank you.
And, finally, we thank First Lady Laura Bush for lending her presence and position to our cause, and to the momentum of the world-wide movement in support of the Monument. Thank you.
Historians will tell you that every great movement is subjected to attempts to suppress, and subvert, but that the worthy ones eventually gather grass-roots momentum and spark the changes that move us forward as a society. The annals of history are filled with evidence that there is no greater force than an idea whose time has come.
We believe our time has come.
Thank you, one and all.
Ignacio V. Cabrera
Friends of the Monument