March 24, 2012

Two sides of a coin

Speaking with a friend last week, and she opined on something really quite brilliant that I'd never thought of:

"Isn't it strange that the exact same action can be viewed as polar opposites depending on the view?  For example, consider a person who decides to use solar panels for electricity, dig a well for water, and grow vegetables in their own garden to can and store instead of buying them at the grocery.  That person is, by turns, either an 'environmentally-aware-liberal who is living a sustainable lifestyle', or an 'isolated-survivalist-TEOTWAWKI right winger.'  But the action is the same."

What drives this disparity in view?  Do we have some innate need to classify others, and do so based on our own preconceptions of people?  Is it some notion of "I'm better than they are, so whatever I am, they're the opposite?  Is it the sum total of everything else -- "I grow my own vegetables, but I also hunt, have guns, and drive a diesel truck instead of a Prius, and that other person doesn't do any of those, so they're the limp-wristed eco-hippy, and I'm a self-sufficient person" -- and the action in question is simply a part of the puzzle?

It's kinda like the "We didn't have the green thing" that went around a while back (if you don't know what I mean, click here.)  Back then, it wasn't called "recycling", or if it was, it wasn't done because people were trying to save the planet for the panda bear or anything.  It was just how it was done.  I built a compost bin yesterday (see previous post), and a friend who is quite liberal in her beliefs mentioned that I was tugging at her "sustainable heartstrings", whatever the hell that meant.  But I wasn't doing it to be "sustainable", I did it because I needed a project to consume a Saturday and because I'm tired of paying $5 for a bag of compost at the nursery down the road.  So she would have been more accurate to call me a "greedy capitalist pig", but that's not how she saw it.  

I wonder why.    

3 comments:

bobball said...

Not so sure about the capitalist part, since you're denying a business your business...but then again, you did buy more things at the hardware store...hmmm...

Great points JB, great points.

I actually was thinking a little along those lines as I started writing our April newsletter (Sportsmen's club). The club has been promoting "green" initiatives far longer than the term existed. Why? Because hunters and fishermen depend on a healthy environment to enjoy their sport. Keep the environment healthy, it's easier to take good fish, birds, and other tasty critters.

Cathy said...
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Cathy said...
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