Tag Archives: politics

Paralyzed Chicken Feet

I am disturbed.



I just watched Food, Inc.

I’m obviously grossly behind the times, since the movie came out in 2008, but still.  It’s awakening.  It’s upsetting.  I’m itching to get to a grocery store just so I can buy organic even though my freezer is already full of food.

And I’m no naturalist.  I’ve always felt that the organic movement was just a ploy by grocers to make me spend $3.99 on spinach when I only wanted to spend $1.99.  Don’t act surprised; you already read this; is my behavior really a shock?

Anyway, it’s pretty hard to get excited about a sale on frozen chicken after seeing chemically-altered chicks hobble around on their enfeebled legs from the “enhancements” farmers give them.  How’s that for too long of a sentence?

I’m literally the last person on Earth to care about where my meat comes from.  But something clicked when my sister-in-law Rachel, who was watching this for the first time with me, turned to me and said, “Yes, God gave us dominion over the animals.  But this is not how He designed them, and we’re abusing them.”

How can I argue with that?

The hard part is when I’m standing in the poultry section of the grocery store, and I’m looking at one price versus another much higher price.  I’m thinking about my wallet, but I’m also thinking about that chicken: that chicken who can’t walk because his butt-head farmer feeds him hormones that make his muscles grow beyond what he can bear.

So I guess I’m going to start paying more for chicken.

Here’s the thing: I tend to find heated political documentaries (read: Michael Moore) to be nothing more than a slanted agenda.  But this seems to affect everyone.  Who among us doesn’t eat corn?  Oh, you don’t?  I bet you eat hundreds of things made with corn syrup, considering virtually everything is made with it.

Ugh, I sound like one of the documentary directors.

Mike and I have always been very on-the-fence about locally grown and organic food, because we weren’t sure that paying more for something meant that we were causing change in a corrupt system.

Now I know that’s because we didn’t realize just how corrupt that system is.

It would be wrong to say that this movie is the ultimate authority on meat and corn; it certainly isn’t.  But at least they’ve done more research than I have, and have spoken with some experts on the matter.

I don’t know if they’ve utterly convinced me never to buy regular meat again; what I do know is that they’ve sold me on doing my own research.  They’ve shown me that ignorance is anything but bliss.

My mom once asked me if I’d like to buy a portion of her cow.  Mike and I laughed.  What?  Your own cow?  What are you, a farmer?  She looked at us like she was speaking to 5-year-olds and explained that you can buy an entire cow from local farmers and the meat will last you a year.  I was grossed out at the thought of all that meat sitting in a freezer for months on end.

Now I’m shuffling my feet around as I sheepishly admit to my conservative mother that her liberal idea was actually…brilliant.

So our brother and sister-in-law may join us in buying a cow.  We think it’s the best approach for an enormous problem that seems beyond repair.

Well, maybe half a cow.  It’s not like we eat beef five nights a week.

But I do eat beef.  Here’s a secret I share with very few people: when no one is around, and I’m out to lunch by myself, I like to visit Taco del Mar.  Or Taco Time.  But never Taco Bell…I do have some dignity.

I love the Mexi-fries and the crispy beef tacos, the shredded lettuce and the diced tomatoes.  I especially love the anonymity of the drive-thru.

But then I had to go and watch Food, Inc., and ruin all of that.  They essentially convinced me that I’m eating dog food, beef fit only for dogs, and I’m sickened…but slightly sad.  Is that weird?  Is it OK to mourn the loss of food that is repulsive but delicious?

I’m not likely to tell people how to eat better or more organically.  I think everyone is entitled to their own choice — all I can do is inform people to watch Food, Inc., and see what they find.

When your conscience won’t let you order a burger after watching this film, I would not be the least bit offended if you wanted to punch me in the face.  In fact, I cry the same crocodile tears about my loss of Taco Time.  The pain is real.

But then, so is the cost.


Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

Respecting the Non-Voters

Normally I avoid politics on Words Become One because I do not want to polarize readers.  However, with all the election craziness today and yesterday, a non-partisan issue spoke to me above the din.  Don’t worry…we’re nowhere near soapbox territory, and you won’t catch me shouting at you in all caps.  This is just an interesting topic, and I would love your opinion on it.

For the last two weeks I’ve felt inundated with TVs and billboard advertisements touting “Get Out the Vote!” or “Don’t Forget to Vote!”

This makes sense because most people are extremely offended by informed citizens choosing not to vote.  I am one of those people.  But I am also offended when uninformed citizens blindly cast their vote.

Consider: voting is a right that should never be taken for granted, but sometimes voting is a privilege we shouldn’t employ.

Why?  Sometimes we aren’t informed.  And voting when we’re uninformed disrespects that right.

Voting is the every-man’s power to affect change, and when involved citizens know the issues and vote to elect chosen representatives or approve initiatives, that is American democracy at its best.  It’s enough to make you want to set your alarm clock to “America the Beautiful” and wake up beaming every morning.

However, if we haven’t researched issues, read statistics on candidates or listened to debates, our vote has the same power to affect change.  Imagine the impact of millions of people skimming through a ballot and half-mindlessly filling in bubbles; those votes count just as much as the person who spent hours learning the referendums and initiatives.

Scary, right?

While some will say that choosing not to vote is akin to letting the right to vote be taken away, I am convinced that many voters are uninformed, and therefore dangerous behind the lever.  An article in the Democratic Strategist quotes data that approximately a third of the public is largely uninformed (for instance, they can’t name one of their own senators).  If I’m a part of that third, choosing not to vote could be the most responsible handling of my rights.

NPR reported yesterday morning that since Seattle has switched to voting through mail-in ballots only, people are delaying voting until the last possible minute (this most definitely includes me; I mailed my ballot on its due date…it still counts).  They reported that this shows a rise in voter consciousness, because citizens are changing their minds on issues and candidates as news about each emerges.  This is good news, because it seems to show people are paying attention.

I am as guilty as the next person.  I remember being 18 and so excited to vote, but I was too preoccupied with college applications, social activities and sports to pay attention to the details of what I was voting about.  I pulled out my ballot at the kitchen table and hollered over to a parent to ask what the issues were and how I should vote.  Clearly I didn’t appreciate the privilege.

This is why MTV’s “Rock the Vote” and “Vote or Die” campaigns tend to freak me out.  To be fair, they claim to provide access to information on the issues on their website.  But they are speaking to millions of 18-year-olds just like me (at the time), and while many of them are far more informed than I was, there are just as many who will vote just because P. Diddy told them to.


Fast-forward seven years and I am doing my best to watch mayoral debates, read my voter pamphlet, and read news articles and endorsements before I grab my pen to vote.

Yesterday I was stuck in 520 bridge traffic and I looked up to see about twenty impassioned people holding picket signs with names of their favorite candidates and “Vote Yes on Ref 71” (it passed) or “Vote No on Ref 1033” (it did not pass).  At first I was encouraged at the sight of such activism, but then I stopped to consider: what about those who do not know what Ref 71 or 1033 are about?  It’s possible the picket holders are convincing uninformed voters through word recognition.  Later, someone might look at their ballot and say, “I’m not sure what this is about, but I remember all of those people holding “No” signs…”


An LA Times opinion article suggested testing voters before allowing them to vote, to ensure they understand the basics of US government before they decide how to change it.  I am not supporting that idea, but I applaud the concept behind it (and I really hope I would pass it.  Otherwise I would have proved my own point, and I will definitely be staying home next election cycle.)

There are only four types of people when it comes to voting.  To prove that point, take the following quiz:

Did you vote yesterday?

A.  Yes
B.   No

Were you informed about that which you were voting?

A.  Yes
B.   No


— 1. A and 2. A = Informed citizen who voted
—  1. B and 2. A = Informed citizen who didn’t vote
— 1. A and 2. B = Uninformed citizen who voted
— 1. B and 2. B = Uninformed citizen who didn’t vote

When it comes to voting, the first and last results are the only choices I respect.


Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

“…and you must be MRS. Reph.”

Last week I attended a political dinner which concluded a conference Mike helped to organize.  Mike serves as treasurer for the Evergreen Leadership Conference and works all year for this one-day event.

That he participates shouldn’t really be surprising. That I looked forward to attending may be.

You probably wouldn’t know it if you met me now, but I used to have my heart set on being a senator.  I’ve been involved in political activities since high school, and always assumed that I would go to law school, serve privately, and establish a public presence before finally running for senator — and then I’d get married.

Well, that didn’t work out, did it?

It’s nobody’s fault but my own.  I chose other pursuits, realized I had no interest in law school, and that was that.

Still, this dinner last week was a bit of an out of body experience.  As I watched him interact with people and run the event, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t me.  I, too, have lived and worked in Washington, D.C.  I have hob-knobbed with politicians and attended political events.  I have walked the halls of the House of Representatives and the Capitol building as an intern.  How did I end up as the arm piece?  (Not that I am, though I do try to dress to impress.)

Most people expect the uninvolved ladies to be somewhat mindless.   I choose not to be insulted by this.  It’s an opportunity; when a group is discussing health care and I make a thoughtful comment, I can see the tiny eyebrow raises and metaphorical jaws on the floor as if they’re exclaiming, “She reads the paper!  You don’t say!”

Meeting people in this atmosphere is the place where I feel most acutely the “extension” part of marriage — the surreal feeling that people are looking and talking with me not as who I am, but as an extension of my husband.

As much as I love talking politics with the general public, I do have my limits.  For instance, a gentleman seated next to me at dinner the other night was going on and on about how homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed in church until they’re no longer practicing their lifestyle.  I replied that if all people weren’t allowed in church until after they stopped sinning, the place would be empty, but he refused to see my point.  Soon, I was boiling below the surface.

These are the moments when Mike lightly taps my arm in the “it’s not worth it,” gesture, and I simply let the man finish his thought.  I nod politely, and transition by commenting on the approaching dessert.

I think this is where I lose my footing in the political sphere.  You see, I am much more pro-Jesus than I am pro-Republican.  I am loyal to my faith, not my political party.  Jesus is not part of a political group, so I do not want to align myself too strictly with something outside of Him.  However, I can see that this line of thinking can quickly lead to being utterly passive, and that is what keeps me engaged in moral/economical/social issues of the day.

For now formal involvement isn’t my pursuit.  However, it will be a long transition to let go of that part of myself, and realize that this other role, this seeming second-place as wife, is just as valid.  Perhaps more so.

The unexpected blessing is that political events aren’t as hard as when I did them alone.  It’s almost like Mike whacks away at the underbrush and then I just have to walk through.  Since people already know him, by the time I meet them it’s like they already accept me; all I have to do is not ruin that impression.  Previous to marriage, I did all my own bushwhacking.

When Mike and I got together, we both loved that the other was as into politics as we were.  It was such a bonus, because so many people we’d each dated completely didn’t get it.  But we didn’t really dive deep enough to see the obvious:  there may be two senators for each state, but there probably shouldn’t be two senators for each marriage.

Two of the people I respect most in this world, Skip and Cyd Li, assured me that marriage does not mean I fade away, only to be glanced at as an accessory to my mate.

“You are NOT wallpaper,” they said emphatically one night while having dinner at our place.  “We want to see you get your law degree and run for city council and move your way up.  If you don’t want that, fine.  But don’t dismiss it just because Mike has those same interests.”

This advice is only believable because Cyd lives it every day.  Her marriage to Skip, who is partner in a major Seattle law firm, doesn’t stop her from buzzing all over town with her own projects and passions.  She gives to people as much as he does, but uses her own gifts.

I suppose that’s why I’m fine with redefining success for myself.  Mike may decide never to pursue a seat, or he may become even more involved tomorrow.  I have to be at peace with where I am apart from that.

Besides, it’s no secret that I handle criticism about as well as I handle getting lemon juice in my eye.  Mike has thicker skin.  He’ll handle the lemons.


Filed under One WORD (Current Events)