Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why can’t life come with instructions?

justtotheleft.com
A while ago I joined a project to start a conversion about Green with other bloggers. The project is facilitated by The Green. Every two weeks or so, there is a new topic and we all try and contribute.

This week's riddle: What is the most pressing sustainability issue we need to address?

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Consumption. Because it is the source of our free market desires that drives the crash-test ride we call “industrial and civilized society.”

I could pick on industrialization but that would just be more unnecessary gripe and moan; and I don’t think we could stop the progress of industrialization without addressing our fundamental consuming patterns so the attempt would be futile; I could go on and discuss the backward sense of “civilization” we experience so distant from our original distinct connection with Earth, but then I would look like some kind of cultural fanatic. Either one is not worth the discussion because they both focuses on the past; they are topics about what has gone wrong, not about what we can do to make things right.

What we can do to make things right is a hard thing to pick on because it is a deeply ingrained social norm protected by our collective sense of denial. It is our palpable overt desire to consume that drives our demand for oil, plastic, cheap meats, chemically fed giant broccoli, and diabetic babies. Yet there is an eerie sense of social stigma against those who would dare to say: “consume less,” and it is thus left unsaid.

Talking about consumption requires an admission of guilt: I too over consume and am part of the perpetuated problem to our Sustainability Crisis. I own many gadgets that hardly justify their existence. I consume and waste more water than a village in China. I use electricity generated by coal freely while I sit on my high and mighty horse and preach. I am in denial because I don’t know a way out of my conditioned pattern of behavior: buy more stuff, love more gadgets, enjoy daily showers, and plug more things into the walls . . .

Well, they say the first step is to admit the guilt and come out of denial. What is the next step?

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