Monday, February 11, 2008

The Melancholy Environmentalist

I've been musing a lot lately about the environment. How do I make my carbon footprint even smaller? Why won't people change their consumptive habits? When will the government step in? Why does no one seem to care? Will a recession help the environmental movement or hurt it as people race to find cheap goods and maintain their current standard of living?

There are so many questions and so few people even trying to answer them that I am often left at an impasse, depressed, and alone in my quest for simplicity. But tonight, in the midst of my musings I remember that I am a control freak. It is true. I have a strong tendency to want to control things and people. How many times have I tried to no avail to change my parents? To get them to turn off the tele in favor of a good book or conversation? To convince people that this is a problem we need to focus on? And how many times have I been disappointed when my enthusiasm was not enough? My passion and reason were not enough?

I am reminded tonight by that little bit of good sense in my head that the only person I can truly change is myself. I can only make myself ride my bike. I can only buy organic, local food for myself. I can only batten down my own hatches. While this brings me great sadness it is also a tremendous relief. No, remembering this will make me no less of an activist. I will not stop preaching environmental athics as loud and as often as I can. But now I will not feel devalued when someone else decides they do not wish to change their ways. I will not be discouraged by the multitudes who pretend nothing is wrong. I will do my best and leave the rest up to others. That is all I can do.


green with a gun said...

There are a lot of reasons people are slow to change, but there are more people changing than you might think.

You know that old thing about "do you see the glass as half-empty, or half-full?"

My woman always replies, "that depends on whether you're emptying it or filling it up."

The glass of change is one we're filling up. So it might be half-full, or even only one-tenth full, I don't know. It's a glass filling in the dark, drip by drip. Drip by drip seems incredibly slow, but at some point one last drip will make the glass overflow.

Whether the Social Change glass will fill up quickly enough to match the Resource Depletion and Climate Change glass, I don't know. But I do know that good change always seems painfully slow, and bad change always seems terrifyingly fast.

So my approach is to have patience, and as you say, focus on the changes in my own life.

Came to your blog through Theresa's award for you, by the way.

green with a gun said...

PS oh, and you have a link to my blog! Thanks! Comment soon :)