Monday, November 28, 2011


If one assumes this is true:

Look beneath the colorful differences in cultural expression and you find at the core everyone wants to breathe clean air and drink clean water. They want tasty, nutritious food uncontaminated with toxins. They want meaningful work, a living wage, success and happiness for their children, and security in their old age. They want a say in the decisions their governments make and they want to live in peace.— David Korten
Then one must assume those who deny climate change or finite resources, the causes of poverty or the ravages of inequality, or insist that opportunity for all is available (in the developed countries, at least) are only uneducated, illogical, or afraid to clearly see and comprehend.  So which is it, and how do you change that? 
Let's look at things in a more narrow view - say, those who live in the United States. The media pap fed to the masses - is it a consequence or cause of the disinterest and ignorance routinely displayed by the general US population? This article demonstrates the actuality of American disjunction with the rest of the world, but I want to know the reason why US markets don't respond to the same offerings that attract knowledge-seeking, globally informed citizens from anywhere else. Are the majority of us too stupid to care about anybody else? Or too egocentric to consider the views and events of other people or countries worth our time? Or are we so stuffed with inanities from popular culture and the mass marketing tricks used to brainwash us into consuming without thought of consequence that we have developed a mind-numbing complacency about the true state of our global crises? 
To reduce even further, I quite seriously wonder about people I know personally, let's just say friends or family, who I believe are good people and also well-intentioned people, who even have a rudimentary grasp of the value of ecological awareness in small ways such as recycling or using less poisonous chemicals for cleaning or feeding their family, yet still won't or can't realize the bigger picture of resource scarcity, either on a personal or global scale.  I'm not sure how emphatic  I should be to try to share my knowledge about global issues that quite likely will sooner or late become personal issues for all of us. Just sharing that frightening information (which I do believe I have tried to do on a very minor scale, and it has never been taken seriously or well received) could very well create rifts between them and I...not what I want to accomplish at all. Is there a way to bring enlightenment without alienating those whom you basically need to scare silly?  


checkman said...

The question is interesting. I imagine your intention is to provoke awareness and motivate people in the wake of your shared realizations. Fear, in my experience, is a terrible motivator. Inspiration, on the other hand, to inspire those around you, is arguably more effect in my opinion (albeit without the dramatic and often urgent reaction one generally gets from "scaring" someone).

As for enlightening others, if its approached from the angle of "educating" them, most folks I've talked to won't have it. And, thats probably for the best (I'll explain in a second). But if by enlighten you mean "challenge" some of their assumptions or habits, I think that's most gracefully done by example. At best you'll be an inspiration, and at worst you'll be a provokation; a kind of food for thought.

From my experience, the big lies aren't one's like, "everything is fine, keep shopping" or various others from the media or academic institutions. The big lies come from solution-pushers; in all their forms. And there are examples pretty much everywhere (from mainstream to fringe subcultures). I eat a vegan diet, and I see this all the time from "vegans" debating "non-vegans". And it kind of frustrates me for two reasons, 1) I've never seen a debate result in any truly transformative change with either party, and 2) both parties have really good points, but are seemingly incapable of hearing each other. Now, among other things, I eat a plant-based diet in my effort to personally address my concerns with "resource scarcity" personally and globally, but its not without its setbacks and its not for everyone, and it may not even be my strategy a year from now. But, as conversations inevitably arise over meals with folks, I'm able to talk about it as a strategy and discuss the ecological/social concerns I have without wagging a finger or give any impressions that I'm deliberately trying to enlighten them. Whatever education there is is incidental, and its an exchange where I can walk away having learned something.

Of course, some friends and/or family will become agitated and uncomfortable with any changes you try to make. When I asked that only used/hand-made gifts be exchanged between myself and others for the holidays, my family thought it was ridiculous. And, when I mentioned I was composting my humanure, a friend of mine was literally speechless. But the results of making these priorities in my life, experiments of sorts, to address what are some pretty obvious problems, create opportunities to share those concerns and (perhaps more importantly) solutions to what we all in some way recognize as all of our responsibility. This approach seems to work for me right now, so perhaps it will be of some use for you?

Roz said...

I didn't mean to use the words "scared silly" in a literal sense. Yes, I do want to challenge assumptions and habits, and also the rather prevalent americentrism that is also never questioned. I have been trying to lead or provoke thought by example but the vast majority of the time I am dismissed as a harmless eccentric. It sounds like you are lucky enough to interact with at least a few people who are even willing to entertain curiosity about your lifestyle choices and the reasons behind them...the only people I've encountered who are interested in any kind of conversation like that are actually already doing those kinds of things. It saddens me, really.