Love, Responsibility and Voting

November 3, 2016 at 2:32 am Leave a comment

Contributed by Dr. Sarah

Since I realized in the summer of 2006 that global warming posed a threat to my children’s — all childrens’ — health and well-being, one of my most rewarding discoveries has been that our voices and votes really matter to our elected officials. This has been the most transformative aspect of becoming an unlikely environmentalist.


To recycle, or to vote, that is the question

I’d thought that we just needed to make “green” lifestyle changes, like recycling. I’m still a committed recycler, I do buy organic produce, and of course, I drive an all-electric car, AKA TheSilverLEAF, whose adventures are chronicled here.

Over time I came to appreciate that the scale and urgency of the climate crisis is so great that the only way to effectively tackle the problem is to change our polices. Our elected officials make those policies that will make or break the effort to ensure our kids a viable future.

I’ve always voted, but that new-found understanding of the key role of policy reform led me to meet with elected officials, to talk about the urgency of the climate crisis, and its implications for our children.

What I now believe is that it’s far more important to vote (and easier!) than to recycle.

Even one voice counts

Here’s what I’ve discovered about the power of our voices as voters.

For the Spheres of Influence Virtual Roundtable, I interviewed a former legislative assistant to a state Senator who told me that five or six voters speaking out on an issue is often a significant number for many elected officials. Just five or six constituents? That’s you and a few members of your extended family, or a few of your friends, or some moms from your kids’ school. I thought our votes were just grains in the sand.

The former legislative assistant also shared her observation that just one voter’s story— if it’s a compelling story— can tip an elected official’s vote. One person’s story.

My unexpected encounter with then-Senator Obama’s office

Understanding the importance of policy— and advocating for policy change— also led to my most powerful experience on my path as an unlikely environmentalist.

I’d never written a letter to an elected official before. But global warming— and my love for my kids— gave me a reason to write to then-Senator Obama when he represented Illinois.

I got a phone call from his environmental legislative assistant. We had several conversations. I was amazed. It was perhaps the most empowering moment in my life.

To Vote, or not to Vote?

Lots of people aren’t excited about our presidential candidates in this acrimonious election. Some are thinking about sitting this one out.

However, there is a great deal at stake in this particular election. Many climate experts see this election cycle as our last chance to avert the worst possible impacts of unchecked global warming.

If you don’t want your kids and grandkids to be suffering from ravages of wild fires and floods, food shortages, droughts, numerous wars over increasingly scarce survival resources such as water, and new diseases we’ve never heard of… vote your eco conscience. Even if it’s an unenthusiastic vote, it’s a vote that matters to your kids’ future.

Love and responsibility

I’m a self-employed, divorced parent with two special needs kids. I don’t have time to run around being an advocate.

But I’ve made time. Because I love my two tween boys, fiercely.

Talking to our elected officials is an act of parental responsibility. Voting is an act of love.



Entry filed under: moms families green eco education parenting green sustainability. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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