On Thursday August 22nd, a few representatives of the Editorial Board met with a Brazilian delegation of youth leaders, and other officials representing the City of Houston, in an effort to share information about youth civic activism. Olivia Arena, Noah M. Horwitz and I were asked to join in the meeting to give our perspective on the Mayor’s Youth Council –the organization we all met each other serving on– from the position of alumni. Councilmember Jack Christie presided over the meeting and provided the Brazilian delegates pertinent background about Houston and its importance globally. He was chosen for this important position because of his recent trip with Mayor Annise Parker to South America, where they participated in a cultural exchange.
Councilmember Christie dominated the conversation for the first twenty minutes or so, explaining Houston’s prominent place in the oil industry and giving a brief overview of its history. He also took it upon himself to give a brief history of South America and the importance of oil there. While Christie made an important connection pointing out our similar interests in the energy economy, it seemed rather strange to be telling people from Brazil about their homeland.
Each member of the Brazilian delegation then introduced themselves, followed by a short comment from Councilmember Christie. The first delegation member explained his involvement with providing health services to members of his community and encouraging youth to maintain a healthy lifestyle. At that point, Councilmember Christie launched into an extended rant on his abhorrence towards modern medicine, stating that this country is “over-medicated” and explaining that he tells his children not to even take aspirin because it’s only a gateway drug to other medications. He proceeded to repeatedly bring up his revulsion towards modern medicine, making it apparent that he actually does not believe in proven medical treatments of legitimate diseases. After the Brazilian delegation finished introducing themselves, Councilmember Christie was called into another meeting and he politely excused himself after we took some group photos.
We finished up the meeting by each of us explaining what the Mayor’s Youth Council meant to us and what the Council does on a monthly basis, after which we opened up the meeting to a much more open discussion. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of time after the extended introductions to truly delve into the open discussion, but I feel we did convey much of the feel of the Mayor’s Youth Council in this brief hour and a half meeting.
What perplexed me long after I left that meeting, however, was why a public official such as Jack Christie would go out of his way to bash the virtues of modern medicine. Given that this is not Coucnilmember Christie’s first experience with the controversial position, I would have expected better from him. However, these comments are systemic of a troubling trend: a rejection of science. Such a position is dangerous.