The Ungiven

A Year in the Life of
a Turncoat Saying No

I did it. Or rather, I did not. First, let’s take exception and write this post in the first person, lest no one else take the fall for my unspeakable acts of omission, negligence, and absolute lack of empathy: I have refused to make end-of-the-year donations.
I don’t mean once, or twice, or heaven forbid, three times, but have deleted all desperate emails, coming from all corners of the world, for my urgent help saving individuals, communities, natural resources, ideas, or for Ebenezer Scrooge’s sake, the whole planet.
Worst: not so secretly, I actually enjoy receiving these last-minute solicitations from such noble causes, vainly nursing the obnoxious idea that, somehow, just having been chosen to receive them is a sign of my superior humanitarian condition, and public acknowledgement of my own goodness.
Feeling so overwhelmed by such displays of goodwill towards my potential to add a savior’s hand to a worthy fight or effort, towards the betterment of mankind, I go to self-centered lengths of congratulating the face in the mirror, for being so gifted and touched by, no question about, a divine inspiration.
Except that I didn’t. Methodically and systematically, I’ve treated them all like spam, and as the quests for help intensified towards the end of the year, December being the very apex of the marathon of sign-ins and petitions, I matched it all with equal intensity by sending them all to trash.
Never mind what came in through regular mail, tons of envelopes stuffed with free addresses and chances to win duffel bags, stuffed animals, bumper stickers, badges to be displayed showing my allegiance, that I judiciously took care of, tearing it all apart with bare hands or scissors.

I did it without a second thought, and even now, I’m not sure I regret having done it so. After all, they all seemed to be addressed to someone with way deeper pockets than mine, and a bigger heart too, willing to go out of the way and having finger cramps just signing checks or providing credit card numbers.
It all did look as if they were not talking to me, but someone higher up in the big hierarchy of the good giving and the well willing. So, fine, I did feel a bit pressured to perform my very best, and obviously, failed miserably, for otherwise there wouldn’t be reasons for a post like this.
So, I said no, and now I’m saying, I’m sorry, ACLU, AFSC, Alaska Wilderness League, America’s Wolves, Amnesty, AnimalHaven, ASPCA, Audubon, Bird’s Nest, Care, ColorOfChange, Common Dreams, Covenant House, Earthjustice, EEF, FoodBank, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Heifer, and HOPE.
I sincerely apologize League of Women Voters, LGBT, MADRE, Media Matters, Mercy Corps, Mother Jones, Native Americans, Nature Conservancy, Oceana, OpenSecrets, OWS, Oxfam, PETA, PFAW, Pro-Publica, RootsAction, Save the Rainforest, Sierra Club, Smithsonian, Solar & Wind Power, Truth Out, UNICEF, UN Refugee Fund, Union of Concerned Scientists, Utne Reader, WIN, Working Families, and WWF.

Plus, my deepest regrets for not having heeded the appeals of an assortment of local charities, housing organizations, hunger programs, Continue reading

Sleeping With the Fishes

Salmon, the Frankenfish & the
Truth About the Tuna You Eat

Contrary to the old saying, and paraphrasing it too, the life aquatic is no longer plenty. It’s hard to tell what’s depleting it faster, whether overpopulation or ocean pollution. Short of an unlike miracle, we may be heading to a time when eating fish will no longer be an option.
Which is too bad, of course, but we’re not getting into that now. Because be it as it may, many think there must be another way. Fair enough, but what? Either call tilapia, red snapper, and tuna, escolar. Or please get that salmon loaded with some extra genes.
We’ll skim over these slightly deranged options, and those unstoppable depleting factors in a minute, but let’s agree first that we’re facing a quagmire, here. Our seven billion-strong mouths won’t stop devouring, anytime soon, whatever is closer in order to keep their hosts from collapsing, that’s for sure,
On the other hand, since even before we’ve reached the top of the food chain, we’ve been serving ourselves with everything this planet has bred and nourished way before our great entrance in the concert of species. Thus we turned every other animal into just another dish, and never looked back.
As we colonized flora and fauna to our own sustenance, we grew stronger and multiplied faster. As we’ve occupied every corner of the globe, we’ve also incorporated ever more species into our diet. Until the number of human digestive systems started to shadow the overall number of living organisms used to sustained it.
That delicate balance between what we demand to survive and what’s available to the taking seems about to be tipped. That and, of course, the widening disproportion in the distribution of natural resources, and what’s with the outrage about horse meat, anyway? After all, isn’t that leaner? But that too, is a fish for another water.
So to show how this long and winding intro can manage to land right on top of your dinner plate, let’s see what’s cooking, so to speak, about the seafood we think we’re eating, but that we’re not, and the fish that we thought that we knew, but soon enough we may not recognize.
Japan UN Saving Species
It may have all started with the study conducted by Oceana, an advocate group for the preservation of the world’s oceans. Between Continue reading