Actually, in this day and age I’m pretty tired of people being snarky and incredibly judgmental about many topics, but I’m narrowing in on environmental nazis today and that one predates all this social media finger-pointing.
Back when I first got interested in environmental issues in 1968 or so, it was a pretty fringe thing. I took environmental biology my first year at Northwestern (70-71) and was hauling piles of stuff to the recycling center by the next year [for the young folks, this was before cities sent trucks to your doorstep to pick things up; you had to take every single thing you recycled to the recycling center yourself and cans had to be washed with tops, bottoms and labels removed and smashed flat and everything had to be divided by category). Later in the decade I participated in marches and protests for solar power.
In those early days, we were just glad to see others participating. We weren’t busy pawing through other people’s environmental habits and pointing fingers. Somewhere in the 80’s though, as the movement grew bigger and more popular, I noticed lots of self-righteous environmentalists who began judging others based on their personal edicts as to what constituted being a good environmental citizen…
The late 80’s saw me representing my office in a rulemaking for the Illinois Commerce Commission and standing firm with one other fellow on refusing to sign on unless some environmental provisions we wrote together were included (they all got in!). And the large team of attorneys from a coalition of agencies in which I was a tiny cog, wound up stopping nine nuclear power plants from being built.
And at the same time I would periodically read an article in which somebody who’d barely been born when I started recycling and studying environmental issues basically told me something I did in life meant I’m not really an environmentalist. These folks had opinions about anything from what you did or didn’t recycle, to what you ate, what you drove, what you wore, what you bought… Most of them had a strong opinion about one or two things and policed everybody else for those things while caring nothing for one or more precepts other environmentalists found important.
Mostly I’ve always just rolled my eyes and left it alone. And wondered why they felt the need. In all the years I’ve tried to help the environment I’ve never felt an impulse to check out what others did so I could shame or blame them nor to chastise people for what they do or don’t do.
I know enough about many studies to know if the majority of people on earth started participating in one or two environmentally friendly behaviors we would start turning it around. Note it’s not that everybody has to do every single environmentally positive thing anyone has ever conceived of, we just need to get as many people as we can to take on what they can.
So I applaud any effort any one is making and I see no point in chastising those who don’t do anything. I’ve never known an “environmentalist” who didn’t do some stellar things in one or more arenas and then waste something like crazy in another. Why does the latter cancel out the former? Who am I to judge?
So mostly I let these enviro-nazis go, roll my eyes and move on. Every now and then, though, when some whipper-snapper launches one of those “you’re not an environmentalist” tirades that includes something I do in their snotty condemnation, it pisses me off.
Today was one of those days, when I read an article posted on Facebook that informed me I can’t eat meat and be an environmentalist. It’s not that I don’t know the arguments about how badly our meat growing and eating habits affect the earth. I do.
But I have problems with anemia and the one and only “prescription” anyone ever gave me that worked came from an acupuncturist who advised me to eat red meat 1-2 times a week.* My health has also gone on an unbelievable downhill slide every time I’ve tried to eat a vegetarian diet of any sort. I feel I’m a better participant in helping the environment when I’m healthy.
I do the best I can about local and being careful whose meat I purchase, etc. and I still recycle copiously, use “green” detergents, etc., so the idea that eating meat once or twice a week erases four decades of working for the environment both personally and sometimes professionally, left me fuming today.
It’s so offensive to “talk” to people that way, I don’t understand why these folks fail to see what a total turn-off it is to approach these issues with such self-righteousness and judgment. There may be some people they shame or bash into submission but I bet they lose more than they gain. They even make me want to throw my recycling in the trash 🙂 And I think it’s pissing me off worse than usual because I’m so tired of so many people in general being so snotty.
I guess in a society where far too many people would rather point their fingers at others and blame them for all their problems than to ever take that scary walk down the path of looking into their own hearts it makes some perverted kind of sense. But really, how about some self-examination and aiming for some compassion? I’m tired of all these cowards who’d rather condemn other people than face their own inner demons. So I guess it’s my turn for finger pointing 🙂
And I’m wondering if you’re tired of it too?
* red meat contains heme iron, which you can’t get from any vegetable source and also an enzyme that helps you absorb iron. Many of us with routine anemia problems either need the heme iron or the assist on absorption or both.