March is the perfect month for going green isn't it?! St. Patrick's Day, spring is in the air, it's my birthday... ok so that last one is not quite relevant - but everything else this month is bursting with goodness and greenness! Naturally, it's the perfect time for me to talk about one of my newer passions that I haven't yet shared with all of you. I've kind of turned into an Environmentalist...
Now, at first glance, you may say to yourself "I knew it. First veganism and now this..." But actually this started long before my veganism. Actually my family would probably tell you I have been a closet Environmentalist for a really long time. When I was a kid I actually forced my brother to hold a funeral for an ant he killed without provocation... so... yeah. But two years ago I had a bit of a catalyst that has really pushed me to come clean with own my greenie tendencies. I took an Environmental Science class.
I'll be honest. I didn't really want to, but I needed it to graduate, so took it I did. And it ignited a passion within me to start talking about this publicly, but not for the reasons you might think. The reason it made me rethink my closetedness (not a word) was because my professor was... hmm... I can't think of a good way to say this. Let me rephrase that, she had some very inappropriate behaviors.
I won't go into all the details, but basically, I was ostracized for my religious beliefs. Yes, at a Christian University, a Lutheran University whose denomination adheres to seven day Creationism and firmly renounces evolution - I was publicly renounced and privately mocked for those very beliefs. Crazy isn't it?
I learned a very important lesson that summer, and it had nothing to do with science. I learned that this Environmentalist movement, or at least parts of it, didn't want me. Here I was, loving the Earth and desiring to do everything possible to care for it and live a life that was gentle to the creatures and creation around me... and the person who was supposed to be a spokesman for that very cause was turning her back and refusing to answer my questions or help me on that path.
I was quite befuddled. And for a while it made me angry. How are we so polarized in our politics and worldviews that we refuse to even work together on basic things that we both agree on? Doesn't everyone want to breath cleaner air and drink cleaner water? Doesn't everyone want better health and little baby rhinos? Wouldn't everyone rather have a piece of land rather than a landfill?
The basic principles of Environmentalism are sound. Let's make our Earth as beautiful and sustainable and healthful as possible. Perhaps the logistics are a little more controversial, but that's a topic for another day. Why can't we all be on board with the goal? Some might say, it's exactly because of the tactics being used that I am unwilling to jump on board. That's fair, what are you doing instead though? Some people will say "I literally don't care." And to you, I'm thoroughly thrilled that you have made it this far in the post.
But for me, and I think for a lot of us, the answer is a little more nuanced. My own bias for a long time has been this - the Environmentalists don't want me because I don't adhere to their worldview. It's not a good work, it's a religion, and I don't agree with their doctrine. I don't believe in millions of years or in evolution or in man made global warming. I don't like fear mongering children with this idea that they're killing polar bears when they leave their bedroom light on.
I had cultivated this attitude toward the Environmentalist movement that was so hostile and negative that it was quite easy to wash my hands of it and say it didn't concern me. I was also just plain conditioned to believe that all of that recycling and wind turbine stuff was at best useless and at worst extortion. But in my heart of hearts, I never really believed the facade I was putting on.
So yeah, I had a prejudice for a long time that I wasn't willing to give up. But now that I'm here do the Environmentalists actually want me? My assumption has been no, and I have had experiences, like that class, which bolster that assumption and allow me to hold on to it. But come on. That's not true. Sure, some of them don't want to be associated with a person who doesn't see anything wrong with big families or won't say that the world is for sure going to end if we don't stop putting carbon in the air. But I don't think that's all or most of you. In fact, I think most of us want to work together toward our goals.
And for everyone who isn't sure. Wouldn't you rather see the people who aren't in agreement with you willingly making lifestyle changes to support your cause? Is it really morally superior to refuse someone access to your exclusive title than to take every measure possible to ensure a safe future for everyone and everything that calls Earth home?
And for those who are where I was for so long, just because someone is doing a good thing for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way... does that give us permission to be slothful in doing good? Does it give us the right to look the other way and continue to let bad stuff keep happening? Are we actually justified in doing nothing?
Just like we should all consider ourselves orphan advocates, people who stand up for the rights of neglected and motherless children, so also we should all consider ourselves environmentalists - people who take care of the precious place we have been given to live.
This green streak of mine is one of the new projects I'm hoping to venture out on. I want to create a coalition of people who lie on all points of the Environmentalist spectrum. I want to find someone from "the other side" who is willing to work with me to bridge the gap between two unnecessarily polarized sides. I want to encourage everyone to dig deep and think about where you are and where you want to be in your relationship with the world around you.
Yes, we are all starting from different places, but that doesn't mean we can't all do something from our various vantage points to make a difference. And if everyone does just one thing that's billions of things! So here's what I'm asking of all of you. Please share this post. Share it with people who you think might be interested in working with me on this project and send them my way.
This isn't something I can do on my own. I need more people from all sides of this issue to help me put aside our differences, find our points of mutual agreement, and start building a new framework that brings all of us closer to living a a more gentle and sustainable life for everyone. If you are interested in being a part of this project please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.