One of my life rules is very simple, but not always easy to follow: Just Show Up. Being present — at a friend’s celebration, at a memorial, at a lecture — matters so much, even though many things get in the way, whether scheduling conflicts or sheer exhaustion.
Moms and dads showed up in full force this week at the “Stroller Brigade” in Washington, D.C. to call for movement — and improvement — of a policy that protects our children from toxic chemicals. Our merry band joined members of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition from across the country.
“I am so tired of feeling that I have to have a Ph.D. in toxicology to be a good parent,” said actress, Jennifer Beals.
Moms get tons of practice, every day, saying things certain people don’t want to hear. Ahem. So I wasn’t surprised (but I was thrilled) when one of our moms, Gretchen Alfonso, spotted Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) in a Senate hallway and grabbed the chance to tell him why strong toxics laws matter. She and seven other moms–and one nun–surrounded the Senator, and they had an intense but friendly conversation for ten minutes.
McCain talked about the air and health crisis in China–and we countered about crises of our own here in the USA. We must talk. And we must listen. Just like raising children — politics is never a one-way street. We give a little, we get a little: but it only works if we keep moving in the right direction, towards a safer world.
Now the EPA is asking to hear from us about how to regulate carbon dioxide pollution. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is hosting “Listening Sessions” around the country. Moms, dads, uncles, aunts, sons and daughters have the chance to talk about how EPA should regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants, which contribute 40% of the U.S. carbon emissions that are warming up our planet.
Let’s talk. And not just to those who agree with us. And let’s listen. And not just to those with whom we agree. We will all be the better for it.