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Christine Reed
Christine Reed

Why We Live Like This

Somebody pointed out something that at first seemed very obvious to me today, and it’s something that most environmentalists miss -- something very important to the whole “green†movement.

She pointed out that people aren’t going to change if they don’t have good jobs, access to health care, and enough to eat.

But then I thought of all the wealthy people in the world who aren’t about to change either and her point -- though a great one -- started to lose its ability to hold water.

I wonder: what is the difference between people willing to sacrifice a little to do their part in terms of climate change and those who refuse to believe there is even a problem, much less one worth doing anything about?

That leads me to wonder about the people I know who claim to be environmentalists and still drive a car to work...two miles away...by themselves.

The disconnect is utterly breathtaking: where does it come from?

And then I end up right back where I always do:  people don’t care about the environment because they don’t care about themselves.

I know, it sounds all new-age therapy.

But the way we treat the people around us, the way we treat our homes, the way we treat our own bodies -- for a long time now, it’s been a basic psychological truism that these things all reflect how we feel about ourselves.

So, now, we are just taking that idea one step further.  How we treat the planet, as individuals and as part of the larger group, is also a mirror for how we feel about ourselves.

For example, that environmentalist who drives his car two miles to work is headed to a job that deadens his spirit.  He hates his job.  He doesn’t want to go.  But he needs the money.  And he needs the money because he lives beyond his means because he is unhappy; he is living a lie; he is barely living at all.  All he really wants to do is live somewhere quiet and build things with his hands.

So he drives to work because he can barely get up in the morning much less get on a bike and power himself to his job.

The other environmentalist drives all over the county in pursuit of business opportunities.  His father has always taught him that he’s stupid and his main pursuit in life now is to prove otherwise.

He really just wants to sit and write.  But he can’t do that and make a lot of money.

Oh, the things we do for money, thinking it will make up for all we lack.

When if we would just face our dreams and move toward them, we would be free.

In so many ways.

The over-consumption would stop.  The anger would stop.  We could slow down and get rid of stuff and get rid of cars and walk places and know our neighborhoods and our unique geography and care for them because we know them.

Imagine, please, for a moment, imagine if everyone were living this kind of life.  It wouldn’t matter if we thought corporations were evil, because they would no longer have customers to buy their environmentally degrading crap.

We would be healthier mentally and physically.  We wouldn’t need the number of anti-depressants that we consume (which end up in our drinking water).  We wouldn’t need so much healthcare in general.

This is the stuff of a real revolution -- as opposed to the fake kind that is all dramatic and makes its participants feel as if they are doing something when they are not.

Stop driving cars to hold placards and march and yell.  Go home and do what you love.

Stop flying to a conference halfway around the world to sit around and feel self-righteous with other people “in the know.â€Â  Go home and get to know your neighbor.

Stop working at jobs that contribute to the ill health of this planet and stop hiding behind the excuse of needing the health insurance.  Go home and take a long walk every day and see how you stop needing doctors.

Stop eating dirty food because it’s cheap.  Go home and plant a pack of seeds that cost a dollar.

Stop yelling and acting angry and start living the things that come out of your mouth.

Stop expecting other people to take care of it, to find a solution, to create a new and better “alternative,†take responsibility for your own culpability and change yourself.

That’s all you can do.

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