The refrain "time under tension" echoes in my mind like a bat in search of prey. The phrase is commonly employed in strength and conditioning training and is a reference to how long a muscle is under strain during exercise. Reportedly, the longer the stress, the better the result. Except, I am not talking about my fitness regimen. I am talking about the current time in U.S. society and the state of national tension expressing itself in the form of a general lack of civility. As our association is increasingly seen as a national and influential voice on health issues, our profession is not immune to the winds that buffet our country and its people. I would like to share a couple examples of what this situation looks like in practice.
Every 2 years our annual conference is convened in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Two years ago, then HUD Secretary Julian Castro spoke at our 2016 Annual Educational Conference (AEC) & Exhibition. This year, HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson was scheduled to speak at our AEC in Anaheim, California. NEHA's relationship with HUD is an important one. HUD provides funds to state and local governments to develop costeffective ways to reduce lead-based paint hazards and other risks associated with the built environment. They are a critical player in the environmental health landscape, particularly for children and people living in poverty.
I was disappointed by the hate that quickly revealed itself on our Facebook page when Dr. Carson's proposed presence at the 2018 AEC was announced. Some of the hate was racial. Some was historical. Some was political.
Some of our members threatened to end their relationships with us. Hate has never solved any problem and has no place in the NEHA network.
Our partnership with HUD leverages both organizations on behalf of national health and safety. NEHA is a nonprofit and, by law, a bipartisan organization. The presence of a political appointee at our AEC is not to be construed as a NEHA endorsement. The political beliefs and ideologies of AEC speakers are their own. The purpose of the AEC is to provide an opportunity to engage in full and spirited dialogue on environmental health issues. We offer this opportunity to speak to AEC attendees on issues germane to the profession regardless of political party or agenda of the current political administration.
The second situation developed as an outcome of a recent AEC presentation. In at least...