As anyone who has read anything I have ever written or ever heard me speak can surmise, I think that words matter.
I often tell the story from my college days of receiving a nice thank you card from a young lady, a card signed, “Love, Carol.” It sent me for a loop. Because, you see, the way I grew up, “love” was a word spoken or written to another person only with the most earnest of intent and sincerity of heart. If you didn’t really mean it, you didn’t say it.
So I knew I was in trouble.
As it has turned out, I was right. Only, it hasn’t been trouble. My wife, Carol, somehow has managed to love me through all these years (well into our fourth decade). And I, with earnest intent and sincerity of heart, love her, too.
One of the greatest human tragedies is our failure to express our love to those close to us. How often have I spent time comforting someone in their grief whose sobs were punctuated by “I never told them that I loved them!”
So I make a point of telling Carol I love her. And, sometimes to their embarrassment, I tell my kids, even my adult kids, I love them, too.
I suppose I could be mistaken. Maybe what I take to be “love” is simply some particular amalgam of hormones or some other biochemical substances. Perhaps it’s actually just a bunch of evolutionarily favored instinctive responses to ensuring the continuation of the species and of my own particular lineage. Those things, indeed, may be part of nature, and part of the story.
But the meaning and importance of the thing I know within me when I speak of “love” simply is more than biology or chemistry. There is a human, chosen dimension to it. I contribute directly and of my own free will to the reality of what I call “love.”
And calling it by its proper name matters.
This may seem like a blog more suited for Valentine’s Day, but it’s not. It’s a response to the simply embarrassing spectacle of the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Bryan Koons, refusing to use the phrase “climate change” to discuss a new provision of federal law regarding Hazard Mitigation plans that expressly uses the phrase. It’s a response to continuing allegations that Florida’s agencies are prohibited from referring to “climate change” in their work.
Of course, the governor and his spokespeople have denied the allegation. Nor has anyone produced the memo declaring this to be policy. Still, there’s testimony to the effect that, somehow, state employees came to conclude that one couldn’t speak of “climate change” in the Governor Scott administration.
I’ve initiated my own (primitive) investigation, the results of which I’ll report next week. For now, here’s my concern:
I understand that there is room for disagreement about some of the issues related to climate change. Not every study supports certain notions of what is happening on this planet. Not every scientist agrees that the changes are influenced, at least in part, by human activity. Okay . . . fair points.
But how can one seriously engage the environmental challenges of the day without at least being willing to debate those challenges with the appropriate vocabulary, the one being used by scientists who work in the field every day (and who have published more than 20,000 articles on the subject since 1994)?
The laughter in the Senate committee chamber yesterday, at Director Koons’ and Governor Scott’s expense, should be the last of a vast accumulation of straws needed to break this outmoded camel’s back. Let’s use the terminology and debate the merits. Let the best science win.
Truly, I’d love to see that.