Saturday, September 18, 2010


I got into a discussion recently with a friend of mine, and it eventually turned to surrogacy and his ambivalence toward it.  When I inquired, he said that his reservations were due to his respect for the environment and his concern about over-population.  As an ecologist, I can understand this point of view.  Mind you, this same person drives an SUV, has a huge house and regularly leaves appliances on instead of flipping a switch.  He also does some great things from an environmental perspective, but this is still a person who has a child and has a sizable ecological footprint.  Needless to say, my perception that he was calling me a hypocrite stung quite a bit. 

It stung for a reason- his explanation for his feelings were a canard, quite frankly.  Of course over-population is a problem, but so is over consumption by individuals, and he's guilty of his fair share of that.  But if we stick to over-population and surrogacy, we're left with possibly the smallest way to impact the natural increase of the human population that exists.  Surrogacy makes up less than 1% of live births in the US today.  Making surrogacy illegal or prohibitively restricted would cause a change in the birth rate by a pittance.  However, unplanned pregnancies in the US (which includes my friend's daughter and grandson, and my own son) account for approximately 50% of all live births in the US.  Changing that number would do far more good without the question the human rights and ethics entering the equation. 

It was a very difficult discussion, and neither of us felt totally comfortable afterward, but I think it was worth having.  We, as a species, are at a turning point right now, I feel.  We can either learn to get along and respect our differences as we go forward, or we can continue the old ways of discrimination and demonizing the other.  If we can set human rights as definitively a top priority, then we'll be doing much better than we are now, and there's a chance we can make it.  If we can't- if we decide that competition is still more important than co-operation- then we're done.  If we acquiesce our humanity, then we don't deserve to continue.  I feel myself turning more into a cynical nihilist in my old age.  I really dislike the people that promote this change in me. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Breaking Out

I have to share, even though it's a bit preliminary, because I am *really* excited about this little nugget.  This fall, I and a colleague will be putting together "Breaking Out Fair 2010".  The theme is breaking out of poverty, breaking out of stereotypes, breaking out of prejudice, breaking out of negativity, breaking out of your comfort zone.  The goal is to combine fundraising and goods raising efforts for two local shelters (an abused womens' shelter and a veterans' shelter) with an awareness raising campaign on KSU campus.  Get students engaged and assisting with the greater community, while highlighting some of the support structures available through the university and community. 

The fraternities/sororities and any other organizations will be helping to gather goods needed by both shelters in a competitive event.  Organizations and departments can participate by "locking up" someone, once the inmate raises the required bail, they get out; until then, they're stuck in one room with all the other inmates.  The fair will consist of various resources available and associated with the University- Habitat for Humanity, career services, writing/tutoring services, psychological clinic, health clinic, rec center, professional development, multi-cultural/LGBT/womens' organizations, and others.  I think it's going to be a great time, but I might be biased.  I'll update as we figure out the details.

So what about you?  What have you broken out of recently?  What or who helped you do that?  What are you trying to break out of?  What resources do you still need to help you break out?  I'd love to hear some other takes on this, and ideas that y'all may have.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Humans have a vast array of emotions, not least among this palette is hope.  As a species, we can be optimistic to our own detriment.  At time, hope can cross over into delusion if that hope goes against every piece of data that we have available.  Often, hope can be the thing that keeps us trying over and over and over again for something that we deeply want.  Hope can lead to pain or fulfillment, depending on how grounded in reality that hope is.  Hope is what keeps us going through the darkest nights.  Giving someone a reason to hope is one of the greatest gifts that can be given.  This past weekend, we went to visit some dear friends, and I think we all came away full of hope.  I hadn't dared feel that for a while.  It's a good feeling, to have hope.  It definitely adds a certain sparkle to every day life.  You know who you are, and I thank you.

May all of you have hope.