Here’s what the world really needs: a more compelling story.
I proudly self-identify as a raving eco-feminist, and have been boosting those signals for over 20 years. I get excited by ideas like kyriarchy and flap my hands and corner my husband and hop up and down a lot while “explaining” my new finding. I spend a lot of time reading philosophy even though I don’t have to. I quit engineering when I was still a student because I intuitively felt morally responsible for my actions even when I didn’t have the authority to make decisions. (It’s taken me 2o years to find the right language to describe that sensation, by the way. But there’s an entire thesis in that issue, so I won’t subject you to it. Not now, anyway.) I’m there. I am SO there.
But I still hear a lot of people saying, “Convince me.” (Even if the way that they put it superficially sounds more like, “What kind of idiot are you to be telling me how to live my life? F-off you hippie freak!” I choose to hear it as an invitation to dialogue. Although maybe not until after eating some fair-trade, organic dark chocolate and doing some deep breathing exercises.)
We have tried for decades. We have tried scaring people. We have tried cajoling, appealing to their better natures, and plastering the world with photos of the poor and the downtrodden. We have championed the causes of the tiny (peeper frogs) and the giant (blue whales). We have asked for peace, for justice, and for clean air and water. And in the process, we have broken our own hearts again and again and again in the face of a broader populous that seems to insist on responding, “What’s in it for me?”
So. What IS in it for them? What keeps us going in the face of a Canadian government that covers their collective ears and screams, “La la la la! I can’t HEAR YOU!” Why should people come around to our ways of thinking?
We don’t have an afterlife to promise them. We don’t have the moral authority of a single church, a single state, or a single culture to draw upon. We are asking individuals to make different choices, and in so doing, to give up what they are used to in order to build the better world that *we* want to live in. We must appeal to something more immediate. So, after nearly two decades living with this worldview, here’s what I propose:
Consuming less is better, not because it is morally superior, but because you will have more fun. You will have more time to spend with your family and friends, and to meet more family and friends if that’s what floats your boat. You will have more time and energy to spend on your passions. You will eat better, be healthier and even (gasp!) have better sex if you get off the hedonic treadmill, and back onto the walking trails of Real Life. Shake it off!
It doesn’t hurt to be beautiful; it hurts to fear that you are not. It hurts to look outside yourself for the mirror of your heart and find it wanting. This world is selling you pain with the right hand and bandaids with the left. The system lives on fear, and feeds it back to you for its own ends. The SYSTEM, not the people in it. They play their roles because they have been eating of the same fears: Fear of not having, fear of being left out, fear of rejection, fear of meaninglessness, joylessness, and want. Give them back: mark them Return to Sender, and find joy and abundance in their stead.
Tell me a more compelling story!