Evolution of Environmentalism 1: Agents of Conscience

I don't know about you, but I know when it started inside me. 10th grade, FHS Sophomore 1978, morning speech ("forensics") class. The long-term speech/debate coach (Dollarhide?) had gone into Jr High administration and they filled his position with some fraternity kid from Univ of Ark, Randall Oxford, who had been an FHS debater sometime before. At least that's the version I recall.

To make a long story short, the morning Foresnics/speech debate class was lightly attended by the teacher, who was out of office 2 years later. But those AMs had some smart kids in them, and we were talking all the time about big stuff. My mom had given me a bunch of wild reading, Bhagavad-Gita, Tao, Plato, and I was giving the New Testament its fair share. I really wanted to do something profoundly spiritual for the rest of my life.

I think extinction is a strong hook for environmentalists. You see rain forest disappearing, tigers going extinct, you acqaint that with your favorite animal (dinosaurs, duh) and realize your second favorite (gorilla, dolphin, tiger) is on the chopping block.

So anyway a lot of us young folks (anyone sitting near me at least) were debating whether leaving society and becoming a hermit was preferable to riding along in a society which was pounding the daylights out of future generations' habitat. I came up with the concept that the hermit path was going to keep my conscience all shiny without changing anything. And that you had to do what is necessary to change society, and do what is necessary to get along in that society in order to change it.

I stuck with that. Some friends (some outside of HS, I also spent a lot of time at Univ of Ark student union, where i was a janitor in the evening) told me it was impossible, if I entered the machine I'd get chewed up by it.

Well, jump ahead a decade or two. I see that inside the machine there are a lot of us environmentalists, trying to pay off our college loans or buy a nice house or afford to buy at a coop instead of Wal-Mart. As is natural, whether you are a skinhead or a gangster or a fraternity drinker, we hang out with folks like ourselves and read one another's blogs and listen to one anothers songs, and get along with each other.

So how do we find a career path? We are kind of competing against each other for a limited number of eco-jobs, and all agreeing more funding is needed to raise the tide for all of our eco-jobs. We wind up adapting much of society's get-along, consensus-power, back-patting talk and accomodating and generally showing deference and agreements with each other. For example, how could we not be suspiciuos about a recent report (not enough data to confirm relevance or causality, but it's an example) that the icy poles or Mars are receding? That's kind of a shocking blow to "Global Warming", the current celebrity of environmental causes.

I find asking about it doesn't alarm friends as much as when I say I'm still open minded to how history will judge the Iraq War II. I won't get into that here, except to say that as a student of WWII I am a little concerned by how short term "proof" or certainty is measured, and I am relied we didn't have streaming embedded coverage of Iwo Jima or Normandy beach. I mean, who could have possibly believed those Japs could have formed a democracy when they were walking out and committing suicide bombing?

End of tangent...

What I'm exploring at this stage in life are 2 things. Entrepreneurism vs. Idealism and need for Dialectic in Environmentalist study. I will vomit if I attend another Middlebury College lecture where everyone nods in agreement and subtly underhands softball questions about environmental issues. It's disgusting to subject those students who have invested that much tuition to such vacant thinking. I'm sure there have been good fighting arguments at lectures I've missed, but I don't want to risk the stastical potential of my time spent watching the get-along-back-patting-political-consensus-more-money-so-we-don't-distastefully-compete-for-one-another's-jobs-so-lets-all-chuckle-and-applaud-at-taking-for-granted-we-all-vote-Bernie-Sanders drivel.

That kind of crap means we collect fluorescent bulbs to recycle the mercury, selling the mercury to alleuvial mining groups who dump it in rain forests to obtain gold. It means we change lead solder to silver-gold solder, increasing demand for that gold, increasing demand for that mercury. And feel good about ourselves.

My life and my determination to be an agent of conscience is too short for that. We must embrace truth.

But if we choose entrepreneuralsim and are trying to build a company and hire people and pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, how truthful can we be every single hour of every single day. I don't know what the crap on the floor an employee asked me about was. I'm sure it's not radioactive or poison, I'm sure it's oil. But if I call in a test squad, someone's going to lose their job. How sure can you be? I offered to clean it up myself and put it in a bag and bring it to hazwaste day (ca-ching), and I encourage the employees to ask me what the liquid on the floor is every day, and to come in and report every injury, cause you have to. But my clients have pushed my price down from 18 cents per pound to 12 cents. It's a cloudy sky overhead, prepare for rain.

to be continued...

2 comments:

multisubj yb said...

The life of a hermit is full of problems in this world of commerce. However, occasional forages into the works of writers who longed for renunciation, will make us free from greed and the stain of longing to get unjust enrichment. Vairagya Satakam (100 verses of renunciation) of bhartruhariyb.blogspot. It is important that we should not be carried away by renunciation.

Robin said...

This is a fantastic response with a great link. Thanks!