September 23, 2007

I talk a lot with my friends and acquaintances about all the issues covered here. Something that repeatedly comes up is how overwhelming it all is, and how impossible to stay informed and keep up with all the fronts where we’re in trouble, as a society, as a planet and in our personal lives. I absolutely see that. It is overwhelming to think about global warming, dependence on foreign oil, erosion of our civil rights, incursion of marketing and consumerism into our minds, health challenges, our lack of time & the enormous number of demands on it, the horrible environmental and humanitarian crises worldwide, pollution, wastefulness and you name it.

It’s tempting to be immobilized by it.

But I see two things.

One, on how very, very many fronts we’ve taken a wrong path. Indeed, it’s hard to find an area of life where we couldn’t stand to find a less selfish way of doing things and where we don’t need to take a good look at the long view and the bigger picture and adjust our behavior accordingly.

But two — the fact that we are so overwhelmingly screwed up is very freeing. It means that we have a huge range of possible improvements to make, an enormous number of possibilities for changing things in a way that works for us. Thousands of places where our money, time, effort, and voices can make a difference. Not all starting places are easy for all of us. But each of us has some starting places that are simple, virtually painless, and worth doing.

One of my friends still shops at Wal-Mart (no matter how many nasty and uncalled-for cracks I make about it to her face, and I’m hoping to reform her yet) but she also knits squares that make charity afghans for disadvantaged people and baby hats for a local neo-natal intensive care unit.

My parents both drive small SUVs — they don’t want to, but they can’t get into and out of low-to-the-ground cars anymore. Yet they recycle.

Another friend built a house 30 or so miles (maybe more!) from where she works. But she bought a Prius.

As for me, well, I’m documenting our good changes. But we have weaknesses — I still eat meat (although I object to it philosophically and it’s an enormously wasteful source of fuel for humans because of the amount of food that has to be grown to raise a single beef cow, pig, or chicken). I gave up walking to the grocery store this summer (temporarily) because of a bad case of plantar fasciitis. And I can think of a host of other ways in which I’m wasteful or environmentally or humanitarianly (I’m sure that’s not a word but you know what I mean) inconsiderate, wasteful or prone to perpetuating the problem.

But I, like many other people I know, have at last made a start. Let’s keep going.


3 Responses to “Perspective”

  1. Darmok Says:

    One change is better than none, and some are better than one. Every little bit helps.

    Instead of switching to full vegetarianism, there are lots of options. How about only eating meat three or four days a week?

    I’m trying that, thanks. A whole bunch of things are converging, one of them being improving my eating. Perhaps I can combine it with improving the planet and I’ll wind up eating more vegetables and less meat either way!

  2. Brutus Says:

    The ‘Perspective’ is reality.

    My perspective gives me a different take on the whole subject.

    As you remember I have commented here before and shared praise for your nice blog, though I rarely agree with your conclusions.

    You are talking about environmental ‘sin’. In Christianity, for example, the sinner is never able to achieve righteousness. The value in trying is to demonstrate the difference between sin and righteousness to others.

    In your post you describe people’s attempts and their shortcomings on the environmental front or we could say the environmental faith. I find it interesting and should point out that according to the leaders of the movement, you can never give enough.

    As I have made it clear before, I appreciate anyone’s effort to improve their world. I think many of us can make small changes in our lifestyle that will benefit ‘us’ directly and the world around us. It is easy to sell this idea and it has real benefits in a persons own life, not just questionable benefits on a planatary level. Many of the things you advocate here fall nicely into the ‘easy to sell’ catagory. I just think that the Environmental Movement is shooting itself in the foot by advocating so many unrealistic changes that may not have any real benefits at all. Then people like the people here end up wasting a much more precious reasource trying to keep up. Your time!

    I don’t think it is that hard to find a way to make a few changes for the improvement of efficiency. To think however, that our entire lifestyle should be turned upside down is at least counter-productive. If that is what it would take, it’s not going to happen. Worst of all, even if we did go that far back in our advanced society, it is our people and the planet that would suffer.

    In short, it is prosperity combined with a little common sense that holds the greatest hope for what ails us. Not just environmentaly, but most if not all of the great problems in our society and in the world.

    People like yourself that care about our world (I don’t mean the planet) are the vessel through which good is done in many ways. Let’s not get distracted by an ideology that has on its agenda the distruction of prosperity but do good with the prosperity it allows us to have. By the way I speak as one with very little of my own prosperity but am thankful for what little I have.

    Keep up the good work


  3. […] again, my commentator has left me a response that has made me think. (See his comment on my entry, Perspective.) He and I don’t seem to agree on much, but I will say this: he clearly thinks about the […]

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