The News Journal hosted a County Council Candidate Debate on 7.31.2020. Here's a letter to the editor I wrote afterwards (which wasn't published).
Thank you to the News-Journal for organizing the candidate debates. Last night the three vying for County Chair answered a series of questions about their leadership, the county, and their plans. Editor Pat Rice kindly asked one of the three questions I submitted:
“Do you believe in climate change?” The follow ups were: If elected, what will you do to reduce the carbon footprint of your office and staff? Do you have any plans to use your office to encourage investment in clean energy and to reduce the carbon emissions of Volusia County?
I appreciate that the question was asked; the answers were sadly dismal, uninspiring and misinformed. None of the candidates said, “Yes I believe in climate change.” They dodged it with “I believe in science.” Well the science is clear. The globe is warming significantly, the impact on Volusia County will be profound, and the citizens are concerned.
According to Climate Central, the likelihood of a 4-foot flood on our coast by 2030 is up to 22%. By 2100, it’s inevitable. Right now, a 4-foot rise would wipe out hundreds of vulnerable households, spread the contents of hazardous waste sites, wastewater sites, and impact EPA-listed sites, as well as more than 50 miles of road.
Back in November, Florida’s Chief Resiliency Officer spoke to a group of business leaders in Volusia County about the challenges faced by climate change, and the opportunity we have to do something meaningful about it. Eight months later, with an election, busy hurricane season, and amidst a pandemic, what has been done?
At the risk of being one of those letter writers who talks about the problems without offering solutions, here’s a few:
· Volusia County should join the Southeast Florida Regional Compact for Climate Change or develop its own coalition of public and private entities geared toward protecting the coastline and reducing carbon emissions. As the only county in Florida that permits civilian vehicles on the beach, the community has a vested interest in studying and mitigating the impacts of climate change on its 47 miles of oceanfront sand.
· When new businesses want to come to this area, instead of just giving them tax incentives, add requirements for achieving net zero carbon emissions, providing fair wages, and recruiting a diverse workforce.
· Provide incentives for infill development in our cities as opposed to clear cutting more trees and devastating wildlife.
All of the candidates committed to listening to the citizens of Volusia County. I wonder if they looked at this Yale poll which in 2019 asked Volusia County residents about their thoughts on global warming.
Around half of all residents said that people are responsible for global warming, and 80% felt that tax incentives and rebates should be provided to fund research into renewable energy sources and provide tax rebates for energy efficient vehicles.
I realize that 90 seconds to answer the question wasn’t a lot of time; however, it only takes a few seconds to say “Yes, Climate change is real and its impacts on the residents of this county will be significant. I plan to explore ways we can invest in renewable energy sources like wind and solar while reducing our carbon footprint.” Looking through the candidate’s platforms on their website and/or Facebook pages yielded no mention of the #1 crisis facing our future.
That same Yale poll revealed only 31% of residents had read anything about climate change in the media, while more than half acknowledge that global warming is affecting the weather.
We are in a key moment here in Volusia County. We have an opportunity to invest in our future, create jobs that are sustainable, and build an economy that is inclusive, diverse, and respects the environment.
On November 4, 2018 at 5:00 p.m., a film will be shown at our local art house movie theatre in Daytona Beach that has rocked my world. It's called Dominion and I was so moved by its message, I felt compelled to do what I could to share it with my community.
A little backstory
I have been vegetarian for many years, beginning when I was younger and moved to a farm in North Carolina. The lovely animals - cows, pigs, chickens, goats, rabbits, honey bees - were all named and loved by me, just like our family dogs, and my siblings. (I sometimes loved them more than my siblings, I'm sure). The fact that we were supposed to eat them was understood but beyond my comprehension. I never thought of a hot dog as a cow or pig before - it was something you ate at a baseball game. I never thought of milk as being solely designed and intended for the baby cow and not for my cereal. I never thought of honey as being "bee food"; it was the most perfect food, I was told and "good for what ails ya".
I was so wrong. It took years of soul searching, questioning, experimenting with being a pescetarian, vegetarian and ultimately vegan, to actually THINK about what I was doing, and who I was harming, when I ate or wore or used animal products, or products that were available to me only after they were tested on animals.
I'm not proud of my past carnage and my twisted senseof entitlement regarding my fellow living creatures on this earth.
And I realize my choice of lifestyle isn't understood, comprehended, or supported by others. I'm not going to save ALL the animals.
And yes, one can survive withOUT eating animal-sourced cheese.
What I realized, thanks to Dominon, Earthlings, Lucent, & Cowspiracy (among other), and the inspiring work of organizations who dedicate their lives to saving and protecting all earthlings (Farm Sanctuary, Peta,) is that what I do does matter.
It matters to that living, breathing, thinking, caring, sentient being who loves her children, cares for his mates, swims free in the ocean or flies from tree top to tree top; who might otherwise appear on my plate for dinner.
It also matters to our environment, and my health, and the lives of my family.
So, no I don't have delusions that showing Dominion in Daytona Beach, Florida, is going to change the world. Or that even one person will arrive at the same conclusion about their food choices. If it helps educate one person about the exploitation and cruelty of the animal agriculture industry, and gives them pause next time they consider a cheeseburger or a plant-based option, then it's a start.
And I'm good with that.
Here's a link to tickets if you are interested in joining or tickets are available at the door (cash only, space permitting).
How do you handle a blatantly racist, totally unexpected comment?
I was at a conference and as is often the case, the attendees met up afterwards at the hotel lounge to share a beverage prior to the dinner festivities. I knew about half the people there and was introduced to a conference attendee I didn’t know. We discussed our jobs, where we were from, and the NLDS, which happened to be on one of the hotel bar TVs. Atlanta was playing and he happened to be from Atlanta so we discussed their new stadium, the team and if he thought they had a chance to win. (Unlikely) I asked if he ever got back to Atlanta, and he said it’s been a while but the last time he went to Underground Atlanta, it was scary and he “couldn’t believe what had happened to downtown.”
In my mind I’m trying to think how I can ask what he meant, when sadly I knew full well what he meant.
I wanted to be wrong.
He said he was the only white person there and it was scary. He would never go back.
I was taken aback at the blatant racism of this person standing right in front of me. In 2018. While we were watching Touki Toussaint on the mound for Atlanta.
I wondered if I said “Wow, that’s racist” if he would defend it. Or call me a liberal snowflake (which I often hear when I try to speak up against discriminatory remarks). Quite often comments like those are preceded by “I’m not racist but . . .” followed by a completely racist statement. Or the usual “I have black friends, so . . .”
And I wondered if there is a perceived “understanding” that it is safe to make overtly offensive racist remarks to another white person anytime, anywhere.
In the past I have let that kind of comment go so as not to cause an argument. But I have realized that letting these things go is how I contributed to Trump in the White House.
Not standing up to either racist, or misogynistic, or prejudicial statements was basically tacit approval and emboldened those racist, misogynist, prejudicial people to continue spewing their hate and believing it was ok.
So I said something. I wish I had been more eloquent and well-spoken. I asked “Why were you afraid?” His response was basically dumbfounded silence and a look of “DUH.” We both knew why he "felt" afraid.
I ended the conversation with lame excuses and left the room.
I want to have a better response. I want to chastise him for espousing a racist dialogue that only demonstrates his ignorance. I wanted to tell him he should be better than that. That thanks to research and innovation and discoveries from people of all colors, we know that all human beings have the same genetic make up. And while his opportunities may have been greater, because he was a white male, those opportunities apparently didn’t deliver a decent education about humanity, civility or justice.
When faced with such blatant racism, how do you handle it? I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.
I read this article entitled “I’m a liberal feminist and am marrying a Trump voter” with interest when it crossed my Huffpost news feed last week.
As a liberal female horrified by the racism, sexism, and intentional disregard of facts demonstrated by the current president, and continually amazed at those who regularly justify his behavior, this headline intrigued me.
Really? I can see perhaps a couple dates, but marriage? Till death do us part?
Why? and How?
I wasn’t alone in my curiosity. The comments I saw posted on the HuffPost page ranged from supportive to scathing amid numerous accusations regarding “white privilege”, “fake feminism”, “closet Republican, ” and “sellout.” Ouch.
And then after reading it, I wondered Why write the article? What did she hope to gain? What kind of response was expected?
Were you seeking approval? Are you questioning your choice? Seeking justification for ditching your Trump-attacky ringleader role for one in which you avoid the topic altogether? Hoping to inspire other liberal feminists to marry Trump voters?
As a single woman seeking a connection and failing quite successfully, I empathize with the writer’s situation. It’s really hard to find the right guy anyway and when you meet someone you really connect with on many levels, its easy for red lines to blur. Especially if he’s a nice guy, he’s not like Trump, he did it because he didn’t like the alternative, he didn’t expect Trump to win and he treats me well.
Truth is tough, it’s dirty, it requires a deep dive into one’s true nature, character, and beliefs, and when we are attracted to someone, it is easier to overlook, ignore, and justify the reality.
I’m often told I’m picky because I tend to exaggerate what some consider to be relatively minor faults. Supporting a guy who supports a white supremacist/bully/idiot is a little more than a minor fault. I think the point many of the commenters were making is even a stopped watch is correct twice a day. That doesn’t make it less wrong the other 1438ish minutes. There’s not a big difference between behavior and mindset. And your tacit approval of egregious inhumanity, especially when it doesn’t affect you, makes you complicit (and in a bubble).
Recently within a week of meeting someone at the local Hard Rock bar, he revealed himself through a casual comment when he questioned the veracity of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting survivor kids (he referenced them as “the so-called students” when I told him there was a March for Life in my current hometown). In another conversation, he called into question homosexuality - “it’s a choice,” he said. When I asked further questions, such as what informs your opinion, he immediately attacked me for being a typical liberal who is neither progressive nor liberal. Apparently asking questions is liberal. And he chastised me for telling him that no, I really don’t think I am interested in going out with him. “We only disagree on one thing,” he said. “I’m sure there’s a lot we agree on.”
He didn’t think that being an ill-informed racist was so much more than “one” thing. Or that it reflects a character trait and lack of thoughtfulness that violates my core beliefs. And if you truly believe the the students were "plants and actors" and that homosexuality is a choice, then at least have the ability to back up your statements. If you are so confident in your viewpoint, share your logic so I can learn more about you and how you think.
Thinking it through, I realized I should have known sooner. I, too, was choosing to ignore some obvious signs in an effort to find a connection. Fortunately I realized before any significant time was invested. And in what has come to be typical fashion, he chastised me and called me a typical liberal for not being open to dating someone who has tenuous relationship with truth.
It’s funny how we can have deal breakers that match our "image", and then there’s DEAL BREAKERS. And ultimately we have to live with our own decisions on with whom we decide to spend a night, a month, or the rest of our lives. So if you are comfortable and content marrying a Trump voter, that’s totally your right and your choice. Best wishes for a lifetime of happiness. To expect others (who may know real suffering because of Trump and the hatred and ire he deliberately, proudly inspires) to embrace that decision is naïve and jejune.
(And besides, parenthetical is an adjective. . . nice use of parenthetical what? Expression? Wouldn’t it be grammatically correct for him to write nice use of the parentheses?)
I was reading an article about rethinking monogamy on CNN’s site. It was authored by neither Bill Clinton nor Donald Trump.
Anyway, it was saying consensual non monogamy can be healthy option for you and your partner.
It starts out by asking, “Could opening your relationship to others benefit you and your partner?”
And immediately I’m confused. If the relationship is open, who is the partner?
Doesn’t a partner by definition mean a spouse or a person with whom one cohabits in a romantic relationship?
So, some sort of defined, if not partially committed, relationship is in existence, from which one wants to stray, but not completely. And to make it “ok” by saying “we were non-monogamous.”
It’s a way to cheat, or as Ross said to Rachel, “we were on a break.”
So what are you?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning anyone’s morality or goals or situations. I am the last person to understand and/or define what is a committed or non-committed, or semi-partially-committed except on Tuesdays when the cute Fed Ex guy delivers the 5:30 package.
I am, however, a person who calls bullshit when I see or hear it.
And this reeks.
So this is how I envision this works. Dick and Jane are dating and have been exclusively, although they haven’t discussed it. They like to flirt with other people, but haven’t gone any further. Friends would consider them a couple. They may or may not refer to the other as “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Their Facebook status might be “In a relationship with . . .” One night, reading in bed, NOT having sex because it’s getting boring, Dick sees this article on cnn.com about Rethinking Monogamy. Hmm. Interesting. He reads it and thinks perhaps this is a good way to ethically and without guilt bang the new manager on the second floor. Float out the idea of a non-monogamous relationship. Jane considers Dick’s suggestion, reads the article and asks, “What happens if you fall in love with someone else.”
“But I only love you, Jane,” he implores.
“Then why do you want to have sex with other people? “ Jane asks.
Dick: “The article says it will ‘inject relationships with some much-needed novelty and excitement.’ ”
“How is it going to do that?” responds Jane. “And what if that novelty and excitement is more novel and exciting than me?”
And are you going to tell Susie from the second floor that you are interested in a hook up no strings a.k.a. non-monogamous sex, and she’s going to say, “OK?”
It is going to collapse like the mortgage market in 2008.
It’s actually a lot like mortgages. By definition, someone is in first position in this deal and the co-non-monogamous person with whom you are having a fling is in second position. First position wins, subordinate gets second dibs. And so on. All those documents you sign when you buy the house guarantee that no matter who you are cheating with, or getting loans from, or second mortgaging with, Mr. First Position gets paid if you default. That leaves little for the co-non-mono person with whom you had the casual fling.
I think this was started by a Facebook marketing intern who wanted to make money on changing relationship statuses and/or the increase social media traffic on those non-mon profiles with morning status reminders: “Good morning Lisa. It’s Tuesday so you are non-monogamous with Fed Ex guy. Don’t forget to post what you crazy kids are up to so your real partner can check out the competition and so the rest of your friends can gossip about how you are so blatantly cheating on ‘In a Relationship with” partner/guy.
The next algorithm will automatically tag the guy. On Wednesday it changes back to crazy in love with my “partner” and Thursday it’s complicated.
And all of it as justification for the fact that you just want to fool around and still enjoy a cozy place with someone with whom you have a comfortable connection.
We have come a long way in this world – we justify gun laws that allow senseless murders, we justify robbing the poor to subsidize the rich, we justify blatant lies as alternative facts, now we just need to create a tax exempt status for those who are non-monogamous partners
Topics for discussion:
How does this compare/contrast with the hook up culture so prevalent among the teenager/young adult sect?
How does this type of pseudo-commitment impact the brain’s dopamine levels? Fear (amygdala) has a big impact on one’s brain chemistry, and conversely so does the dopamine released when one has a trusted connection with another.
Ultimately, what does this mean for the human race?
In 1973, Roe versus Wade established that women have a constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy based on the due process clause of the Fourteenth amendment. In the Supreme Court’s 7-2 majority decision, a fetus is not a “person” under the Fourteenth Amendment, nor may the state justify restrictions on abortion based on one theory of when life begins.
A recent anti-abortion bill passed in the House draws from unsubstantiated "evidence" that a fetus at 22 weeks can survive outside the womb and can feel pain. But the signage held by advocates to "Protect the Unborn" should have an asterisk. If the concern is truly about the pain inflicted on "unborn" children, how can they support an exemption for rape victims? It is still a life they are carrying, right?
Why is it ok to "murder" an "unborn child" if it is conceived of rape, but not ok if it is conceived by a couple of drunk college students? Or a mother whose husband leaves her when he finds out she is having another of his kids? Or failed birth control? Regardless of the reason, a woman who has an abortion is doing it for many complicated reasons, including she does not want the child and/or cannot support the child.
The constitution protects her choice because our Supreme Court saw the wisdom in maintaining the sanctity of a person’s body. This bill and its supporters, (even though it is symbolic legislation) support a position that seeks to punish women who "get themselves" pregnant. They do not care about the life of the future child.
If they did, they would support: No. Abortion. Ever. And when unwanted children are born, they would put their money where their judgmental mouths are and pony up the million plus dollars it costs to raise a kid through college, trade school, or other post childhood endeavor. Here’s a cynical view that illustrates the conundrum: Abortions protect the wealthy from the burden of having another member of the 49% who just expect a government handout.
If you believe a fetus has rights, you must protect all fetuses, not just the ones from the women you vilify and wish to punish by forcing them to give birth. If you want to take away the established right of women to determine the outcomes of their pregnancies, you must foot the bill.
Why do people say, “I hate to tell you this, but . . . “ and proceed to tell you something you can just TELL they couldn’t wait to tell you. They are smiling the entire time behind pseudo-sad, empathetic eyes. You can’t hide that kind of joy.
Why not just say the “evil, horrible thing,” without the prologue? And if they truly hate to say it, why do they? Stifle already.
Chances are you already know the evil horrible thing, anyway. Or you suspect it. You’re a smart cookie.
But if you don’t, do you really want to hear the “evil horrible thing” delivered smugly from a person who PRETENDS to not want to tell you?
Conversely, I think the most honest approach would be for the person to to say, “I’ve been bothered all day about something and feel that as your friend, I need to tell you, but I know it is going to hurt you and that’s the last thing I want to do. You might already know it, but I just don’t feel right knowing something like this, without knowing if you know. You know?”
Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
Instead the person who “hates to tell you . . . “ is already feeling better about herself because she doesn’t have this “evil, horrible thing” lurking over her head. The schadenfreude kicks in, and her delicious win is to tell you before someone else does. Or Facebooks it. Or Tweets it. Just being the first to tell you the “hate to tell you, but” thing is an accomplishment of epic proportions.
Solution? Next time someone has a twinkle in her eye and says, “I hate to tell you this, but . . . “
Stop her. Say, “Then don’t.” And walk away.