In a previous article, I said I was no pessimist— I lied, sort of. I think it is difficult for anyone to stay 100% optimistic when reading about all the tragedies and devastations happening to our home. It actually was starting to weigh very heavily on me, and I had to take a break from the research and writing. Although I feel very strongly about shifting responsibility back over to large corporations and government entities and not blaming and shaming people (“consumers”, as they like to call us), I still feel incredible guilt, almost every day.
So, how can we care about the Earth, and ourselves? Sometimes it seems like it’s either one or the other— maybe because doing the “right thing” can feel like a punishment. My coworker said sometimes it’s like you’re in a bad relationship, one where your partner is demanding all of your attention and before you know it it’s been weeks since you had a moment to yourself. I’m sure there’s a way to link this to capitalism… We’re guilt-tripped into buying the healthier, cleaner, “greener” whatever until we reach burn-out, then we relapse back into buying “bad” stuff to feel some sense of comfort or normalcy. That’s actually a pretty smart setup— a pattern of guilt, seduction, guilt, seduction historically works very well on a bunch of Roman Catholic and Puritan descendants, and creates a little healthy competition for the Big Guys.
Out of curiosity, I was doing a little research for this article on the numbers I’m sure most everyone has heard claiming 100 corporations are responsible for 70% of carbon emissions. I found an opinion piece stating that although Big Coal and Big Oil may be selling the stuff, it’s us consumers who are buying it and only further encouraging the production. “If we simply just stopped buying gas and lived closer to work and the grocery store, they would go bankrupt and we would save the Earth” was the gist of it… this is the kind of reading that makes me have to take so many breaks. I think it is obvious how much of an oversimplification that is. It is completely unrealistic and unfair to think if every human stopped what they are doing to live and survive, then the world we be a better place. As I’m sitting here writing this I wish I had some answer, some beginning to an answer; but I know the answer is not shaming poor and working class people for trying to get by. However, it’s a great way keep us from seeing the bigger picture and continue fighting and blaming each other.
“Living well is the best revenge” is one of those quotes that sometimes annoys me, it can sound arbitrary and passive; but for my purpose in writing this article it serves well. I think one of the most satisfying, healing things we can do is to consciously make an effort to stop feeling guilty about our choices. This isn’t me giving you permission to give up or something, what I mean is we should think on what it is that is causing the guilt, and go from there. As long as we continue to allow that battle to go on in our heads, they are winning. For me, it is so stressful and confusing to have my mind in this constant tug-of-war. I think I’d be a lot more helpful to the planet if I gave a damn about myself too.