Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Haunting Fear...

James Glave commented on my post yesterday, in particular taking some exception to the idea that I spoke of "greening" as a personally joyful activity.

Maybe the "greening" we've done hasn't been much of a sacrifice because we never adopted the consumerist lifestyle. We swore off using credit in 1981, and haven't incurred debt since. We lived, more or less comfortably, but it meant there were years with no new clothes, no meals out, no shopping trips or holidays, no nights out at movies, and few if any "luxuries". Sometimes we missed these things, much of the time we didn't.

We have the choice to do/own at least some of these things, but we are reasonably happy without them. (I'd much rather buy new plants for the garden than new clothes anyway.) But it takes a strong commitment to something to ignore the pressures of both Madison Ave and society in general, because being out-of-fashion and out of step makes one an object of suspicion, even derision. The chic, hip and trendy are worshipped in this society.

So I can well understand that when someone's motto has been, "He who has the most toys when he dies wins," reining in ecologically could be a gut-wrenching process and a sacrifice. For some people turning off a lightbulb when they leave a room is an annoyance and a sacrifice.

Nonetheless we cannot as a society, and a species, continue to consume ever more and more. So we either have to get our asses in gear, reboot and get back in line with the rest of the natural world which gives as it takes in an ever replenishing cycle, or we may well join the dinosaurs as an extinct species.

While recognizing that doing anything differently is a challenge for some, it doesn't hurt to enjoy what you are doing ecologically. Some wag said "Puritanism is that haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be enjoying themselves." Extending the analogy, I don't think we need to be eco-puritanists who feel that only when we suffer do our efforts count.

Part of this greening process will surely be that we relearn how important family, neighbbours and community are to our survival. We do not thrive in these islands of isolation we have created for ourselves. To this end I am working on encouraging families in our small community to compost, grow vegetables, put filters on their taps and give up bottled water, insulate, use CFL bulbs, cut energy and water consumption, and recycle.

This is, for the most part, a community of retired people. Only about 25% are under age 60. Many have significant health or mobility issues. So not only do old habits die hard, but even small changes can involve considerable disruption of routine and are a sacrifice. Here's where we must support each other in an active, caring way. It's not enough to preach ecological responsibility. It means you say to your neighbour who has a heart condition, "Let me help you with your recycling, plant some vegies in containers on the deck, or set up your compost box. I like having an excuse to visit with you anyway."

Ecological awareness is also sharing time, produce, rides, shopping trips, and a meal on the deck. So we don't have to be alone as we face the changes ahead. As we knit up the raveled sleeves of both community and environment, we find that while knitting can be pleasurable and productive, it is also at times tedious, exacting and exasperating work. Anyone who says differently hasn't done much knitting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is it not a bit weird that I sent you a quote by Glave on the 21st of March via email and now he comments on your blog.

How freaky weird.