Thinking about the world and my place in it, I’ve come to realize something: I’m not necessarily an environmentalist.
This may not come as a great shock to the folks who regularly spend time with me these days, but it was eye-opening for me. For the longest time, I’ve assumed I was an environmentalist, but I’m not sure I fit the bill anymore.
I’m all for clean air and clean water. I’m against corporate usury and greed. I think everyone should have a shot at the good life, provided they don’t trample other people in the process. I like to consider the downstream effects of my actions.
People who drive 30 miles to work but think leaving their computer in “sleep” mode overnight is “wasteful” drive me nuts. People who preach about native vs. invasive species don’t see the forest for the trees. And folks who drive hybrid cars because they’re “saving oil” need to refresh their knowledge of physics, ecology, and economics.
Lately, “environmentalism” seems to have become just another way to sell stuff. You’ve got your “green” this and “organic” that, all significantly marked up because if it’s not expensive, it couldn’t possibly be good for the planet. What used to be people taking independent, thoughtful action has been co-opted by the suits at the corner of Wall Street and Madison Avenue.
No matter what label I use for myself (and why, really, do I feel the need to label myself?), there are a few things that I hold sacred. Critical thinking (especially when combined with common sense) is chief among those. Next comes justice, compassion, and personal responsibility. Only after that is a pristine environment any good to me, and really, shouldn’t that flow from the whole “critical thinking” bit?