Environmental Defenders Deserve to be Defended

(July 14, 2016)

It matters most when something happens in your own backyard.

Whatever the tragedy or problem, the further away something is, the less important it becomes.

It is not that we don’t care about those other people, somewhere else. We do. It just doesn’t lead us to do something that interferes too much with our day. It’s just not personal.

That can change in a heartbeat, of course. Ask people involved in fundraising for the cure of a particular disease. Most will have had a family member or friend affected, if they are not survivors themselves.

The same is true for environmental issues. Live downwind from a refinery or downstream from an industrial facility and you will have a different opinion than others of the environmental price we pay for how we live. Get driven from your house due to flood or forest fire and you will think differently about water issues. Develop a serious food allergy and you will read labels intently — and you will have different opinions about what is in our food.

Recent events, therefore, matter most if you are a member of the black community, the LGBTTQ* community or the police. It becomes personal when these things directly affect you or someone about whom you care.

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