An Open Letter of Apology

I’m sorry if I’ve ever bent your ear about climate change. I’m sorry if I’ve consciously or unconsciously dismissed the important work that you are doing, thinking that you should turn your attention to climate change. I’m sorry if I’ve been arrogant, cavalier, pretentious or smug.

Sometimes I don’t have the best communication skills. Sometimes I can’t find the words, the tone of voice, or the soft heart, to say what it is I want to say. For the last seven or so years, I’ve felt as though I’ve been standing high on a mountain top with a bugle. A town crier of sorts. From where I was standing, I could see the sea rising, the hurricanes building momentum, the trees like kindling, waiting for a spark. I could see the air warming and the snow turning to rain. I kept sounding my bugle, but the screeching noise only made you put your hands over your ears.

You may have heard the story about the small town that discovered babies floating down the river. A team of people stood at the edge of the river, sinking their hands into the cold water to rescue the babies. Until someone said, “I’m going upstream to find out how it is that these babies are ending up in the river.”

I saw the droughts, fires, hurricanes and floods and from where I was standing I could see that they were intertwined, not disparate events. I saw the threads that wove them together. Too much fossil fuel being burned, heating things up by putting too much carbon in the atmosphere, changing all the weather patterns. Making hurricanes fiercer, fires hotter, floods more frequent.

I knew we, regular, ordinary people, could do something to make it stop. And if you happened to be standing at the edge of the water, pulling the babies out, you may not have been all that interested in what I had to say. I can hardly blame you. You had your hands full.

I didn’t know how to get your attention. To let you know that if you came upstream, saw the catastrophe from where I was standing, things would look different. I didn’t know how to tell you that, without making it sound like I was judging you, for focusing your attention on what was happening downstream.

Please accept my apology. I was scared. I was frustrated. Angry and upset. My intentions were good. I love this place we call earth. I love the trees, the butterflies, and the lakes. I was trying to get your attention and I didn’t always have the words.

I’m happy to say that in spite of, because of and independent of my ranting, people are listening. There is a bi-partisan climate solutions caucus in the United States House of Representatives. Two years ago, it was only an idea. Now there are 62 members; 31 Republicans and 31 Democrats. That means 62 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are having civil, productive conversations about climate solutions.

We all have our work to do. Upstream and downstream. Thank you for the work that you do, thank you for being the person who you are. This thing of being human—sometimes it’s hard and messy and I definitely don’t always get it right. I hope you will accept my apology.

16 comments on “An Open Letter of Apology

  1. No apology necessary. I love coming across experts and those who are passionate and well-informed. Given the stakes, some foot-stomping is warranted. Given the intransigence in this nation in particular, more than that is necessary. Even climate activists are still flying everywhere, living in big homes, driving big honking cars, and making excuses for all of it. Policy matters, but so does our example. Sounds like you’ve made some people uncomfortable. I don’t know the details, and maybe you really did do something worth an apology to someone. But species are going extinct, problems are being identified but not solved (though solutions are readily available), and we need to get serious.. It’s time climate activists take a page from ACT UP, the AIDS activists.

  2. I agree – no apology necessary! There are so many hot button issues right now – climate change, health care, women’s rights, immigration, taxation, etc. etc. it’s hard to know where to look and impossible for any one of us to contend with it all. It makes my heart happy knowing you are out there fighting for all of us on the climate change front!! We saw the Inconvenient Sequel and it was terrifying!

    • Thanks Elya. Just curious, did you leave the movie feeling like you wanted to crawl into a hole? Or did you feel empowered to take action? For me, stand alone bad news that isn’t coupled with clear, concrete solutions is a recipe for cynicism and resignation. Hopefully, you left knowing there are things you can do that will matter.

  3. I love this Davia. Thank you. I also feel that sense that sometimes I alienate others with my zealousness. And I know that other, critically important causes don’t touch me in the way that climate does and in the way they touch others who are close to me. So, we answer our own calls and do what we do and somehow (hopefully) it will all work out!xxx

  4. Kudos to you Davia for expressing your passion, and all of the emotions that go along with it.
    And, we do need to have compassion for those who do not see the world in the same way, even when that is frustrating.
    Interesting how the words passion and compassion are so similar!
    Happy Chanukah,
    Jean Kaplan

  5. Davia,

    Happy Hannukkah
    You are being bold and courageous to admit that you might have offended people with your “view of the world situation’….I did the same thing with my brother and I offended him not being sensitive to what he is doing and aware of that now I am….it opened up a new space for us to communicate and connect on about saving this place where we grew up playing hockey (now skating is not a certain thing in Minnesota) and skiing (the Birkie, my annual 55 km ski race, was cancelled last year with a lack of snow). But now we have new skills of awakening our friends and family members to join with us and use their amazing networks to reach the new climate champions with their cry for help that only they can do. Keep doing what you are doing and ask people who read your blogs what they are newly doing to engage in solutions….or not….being real with who you are and what you are concerned about is what makes you valuable. Sam Harris’ new organization is all about Civic Courage, you are clearly that for me.
    much love and keep writing from your heart!!


  6. Thank you Davia for such humble, powerful, and community-building words. You are modeling such a powerful open ethic of collaboration and approachability–two critical components to bring us all together as we work towards common ground solutions that will look out for everyone.

  7. Davia, As I have read your posts over these last couple of years, I don’t find any reason for you to have to apologize. You have spoken lovingly from the heart about your experience and soundly about the challenges that confront committed climate warriors in an obtusely blind world. I’m amazed that you repeatedly go forward in a decent manner and I salute you for it. My own mind rages.

    • Ken, thank you. I have been given two challenges. The first is working collectively with others to inform, educate, and take action to slow climate change. Which is daunting in and of itself. The second, however, can be even more challenging. It is learning to be patient, open-hearted and generous in my listening and to know that people (all people) want to live on a beautiful earth, want food security, jobs, and some sense of predictability about their lives. No matter what their politics are. My mind also rages and my hearts breaks. Sometimes I can build a bridge. Sometimes I fall face first into the moat.

  8. Davia, once again you have written a piece that expresses exactly how I’ve been feeling, but so much more eloquently than I’d be capable of. The story about pulling babies out of the river is an illuminating mirror for the frustrating “anti, downstream” movements that try to fight each individual pipeline, fracking well, etc. (And all the other heartfelt “Save the …” movements.) Yet your gracious acknowledgement of everyone’s good intentions remind us to keep heart, and keep working up that river, where more and more people will join us to truly “Save the babies.”

  9. You are a gifted writer! I enjoy reading your blogs. This one was especially poignant and well written with so much heart and love for this planet. I currently cannot add another cause to my list of charities. I choose to rescue animals, help pick back-yard fruit to distribute to food banks, create can food drives at parties to collect for Food Finders of Long Beach and I always have food to give to the homeless. I often take a homeless person to lunch. One time after we shared a meal, I asked the waitress for the bill and she said someone already paid for it. I looked around and didn’t see anyone to acknowledge. I felt so blessed that day! I once bought a bus pass and a motel room to help a homeless woman get back to Atlanta. Recently, I sent a care package to a family who lost both their home and the home of her parents in the recent fires in Northern California.
    I guess I am saying I prefer more direct contact with charity. I like to see the smiles on the faces of the people I impact. And this is not to say, I don’t think getting 60 representatives to talk about CC on both sides of the political line is not an amazing accomplishment.
    I am very proud of my cousin, Davia, you and your sister and brother-in-law down in Encinitas. I am thankful my family cares about this world so much. I know our children who will benefit from your efforts. I am the last of our 9 cousins and you are the the first. May you lead us and I will always pick up where you left off!
    Love to you and all your hard work.

    • Laurel, thank you so much. Your words touched my heart. I know that you are not alone–wanting to see the smiles of the people you impact. We all work in our own ways–hoping to leave this world a better place than we found it.

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