The one topic that seemed to come up often was Hypocrisy and other attacks on our choices. I was invited to speak to a local group working on sustainable issues recently and had decided that would be one of my speaking points, that same week I saw 2 different posts from other bloggers talking about being called a hypocrite.
I'm not sure why people think you have to achieve perfection when you are working toward a goal. The one thing I've learned on my journey to live more gently on the planet is it's hard to not only get to 100% sustainable, zero emissions or what ever your goal may be, but it's also very hard to know how to achieve it. There is so much conflicting info, so many things to consider that we all have to set our priorities and be realistic.
One problem I've run into time and again is feeling like I have to defend my choices. I was asked if I considered myself a hypocrite because I have a freezer and a second refrigerator in my garage. I felt I had to justify that 90% of my energy comes from my solar panels and I have a side of grass fed beef from a farm 40 miles from my home in the freezer and I need the fridge to store my abundant harvest from my garden sometimes because I don't always have time to preserve the produce the day it needs to be picked, well that and it's great to have space to store more beer in the summer. I've had family members get down right hostile about my choices, basically calling them a fad and that the things I believe are not only irrelevant, but I can't have any impact so why bother.
My latest attack came today. I'd just finished an awesome bike ride and conquered some new big hills and was on top of the world. We were working in the yard and I heard the door bell. It was animal control, my first thought was someone turned in my dogs for barking, and I got ready to let her know it isn't my dogs, but the ones next door that start at 5 am or the people behind her that bard about 10 hours a day. She said I was told you have chickens. My heart sunk, my head started to race. I know I had looked up all the ordinances and made sure I was in compliance with all of them. I'd even talked with my neighbors, one was concerned the hens would get over the fence, so I fully enclosed their yard so that wouldn't be an issue, I couldn't imagine why she was there. I asked was I supposed to get a permit or license them? She said no, and that they are only allowed in certain areas of the city. I told her I didn't see any mention of that in the code. She asked if they were 20' from each fence line? I told her yes and she's welcome to measure. She then told me it was a complaint about the smell. I was instantly pissed. My chickens haven't had enough time to create a smell. This was an attack on my choice to legally own an animal. I was trying so hard not to show the anger welling up inside of me. She followed me into my back yard and was surprised out how much space my suburban lot has, I took her through the dog run, which if anything smells in my yard it would be that area, no smell today thankfully. She asked if I had any roosters, I told her we won't know till the end of summer and I know I can't keep it if any of my flock is male. She gave my coop and my yard a good looking over and she said she couldn't smell any odor, she couldn't even see any signs of chicken poo and not only do I appear to be in compliance, but my coop is cute. I was so relieved, but still upset that someone would turn me in on a false claim. She asked for my full name and phone number and said she would put a note in my file in case there are any future claims.
I could go on and on about all the noise and other pet violations my neighbors have and the thought of starting a war crossed my mind. I still may take some sort of action, I was considering a huge sign in my backyard that could say something like, I have the right, I am in compliance and you need to just get over it, with probably some name calling too. I may write a nice letter explaining that I got the visit I'm in compliance, I have the right and if they ever have a real problem knock on my door and I will address it. I'll give myself a few days to cool off before I do anything.