4/01/2006

What Gives, People?

Do people rationalize inaction the same way they rationalize things like big closets and SUV's? Too busy, need a place for the dog to ride,too many shoes? Other people should care about war or global warming, but I have good,solid REASONS to warm my chair and drive my big car? I am always amazed by how many environmentalists drive SUV's. And yet my trendy neighbor has a hybrid "because its in." What gives?

We have such a pervasive sense of entitlement that even in meetings, groups, events... even BLOGGING- people want others to ensure their comfort zones. We want comfort in our homes, crap all around- but we have no desire to connect to the unpleasant realities of these "things" just like a kid really doesn't want to know where his McNugget comes from. If you knew the truth behind diamonds, gold, meat, pesticides, hormones...you might be forced to reckon with your awareness. Who the hell wants that?

We seek out people that are like us, talk like us, blog like us, look like us. And in this myopic world, everyone else is wrong. And they are not worth listening to either because they are the enemy. This is our idea of peacemaking.
We talk about war and our government, and yet we know that resources and their control are key to what is happening. And we know this will get worse- not better- with peak oil. But even if the government were to be run by the Sierra Club- it WOULD NOT CHANGE THE FACT THAT WE ARE A NATION OF ASSHOLES. Thats not going to change no matter who the President is! The President, despite our hatred for his actions, did not make you buy a huge house, chop down everything in sight, spend your weekends driving and shopping at Wal Mart! The President did not make you unhappy so commercials can prey on your self doubts. The President did not put you in debt so you miss your kid's soccer games to work your second job. The president did not put a price tag on your parenting. YOU did. I am not talking about the person struggling, but about the person who drives a BMW and leaves her seven year old alone after school. Who schedules biweekly maintenance of fake fingernails but finds it too problematic to help with homework. Everyone has a reason to be too busy, after all.

And I am tired of people with huge oil-heated homes throwing stones. I am tired of carpooling to environmental events in a huge Dodge Durango. I am tired of political opinionators that are too busy to VOTE! Vote! Who cares anyway, they say. Well why complain about things all day if you feel so disenfranchised and detached? And why not do something about that? People watch politics like they watch baseball, their joy is in FOLLOWING it, not in PLAYING it. The difference though is that we are not all baseball players. but we ARE ALL MEMBERS OF SOCIETY no matter how detached you feel. So why don't we step up?

"Why bother?" Well why bother keeps people fighting your supposed causes for you! Why bother keeps your neighbor up writing letters while you watch "ER". If we don't want to bother- we are part of the problem. We all need down time, we all need joy and beauty and serenity and laughter. But what about balance? What if every blogger spent ONE week, like we did for Corruptco, writing about an idea that might make a difference? What if we saw blogging as a way to organize, express, connect...and less like the cool tables in a high school cafeteria?

So maybe its time to ask ourselves why we don't bother, and look at the many reasosn we give for all that we are unwilling to do.

There are people that blow themselves the fuck up for what they think is right, not saying it is. But here in America, people will not give up a thing. They will not give up things to be with their families, to be healthy, to be educated, to read more, think more... people will not give up even the quick fix that is violence.

As a culture, we need to consider the fact that sometimes "giving up" translates into a delayed benefit. When people bemoan the culture- it is not because of Ozzy,Reality TV, Fox News, the Bush family, McDonald's, Britney Spears..or even the feminists and atheists. (although the right will differ)

It is about the expectation that we will GET by doing NOTHING. Peace without effort, action because of a t shirt, health because of a pill, love without commitment, beauty because of a cream, old age because of medicine, a house because of an ARM or a balloon mortgage, clean air and water and a safe planet because we replace the President with another puppet.

How's that working out for us, anyway, this thinking?

20 comments:

Lew Scannon said...

There is no thinking involved in this life style, it's all about wants. If they thought about it, they would realize that they don't need most of the things they crave. Advertising appeals to people and assures them their life will be better with a car payment and higher auto insurance rates. Most people are living in a state of fear, the fear that someone may have something they don't, that is heightened by the "they want to detsroy us" propaganda espoused by the government since the end of WWII. First it was the communists, and when they proved to be a non-threat, they switched people over to the fear of the "Islamo-fascist". Keeping people in a state of constant fear keeps them from thining clearly (if they think at all), and keeps them buying into the materialistic based lifestyle that will be America's ultimate demise.

pinkfem said...

I guess we all live with the unique versions of our own delusions and that imperfect lens of perspective through which we shape our separated realities, those boxset parts of our reality that neither overlap nor dovetail with others' world views. There are always those parts of our inner awareness to which we are both blind and simultaneously manage to hide from ourselves. But, hell, anyone can figure out that all these cars and SUVs are just speeding up global warming.

romunov said...

Good post. Unfortunately, this is a problem not only of Americans, but here in Europe as well. I'm not sure what the situation is in Asia (India, China...).

abi said...

What if we saw blogging as a way to organize, express, connect...and less like the cool tables in a high school cafeteria?

I couldn't agree more. There's enormous potential in blogging. Right now we're just scratching the surface.

I like the words 'organize' and 'connect.' That's where blogging can really make a difference - by allowing unlimited numbers of people to brainstorm problems, feed off of each others' ideas, and produce entirely new ideas and solutions.

I don't see a lot of this being done successfully yet, although there have been some attempts. But still, blogging is something more than idle cafeteria chatter. It gives us an opportunity to sharpen and test our thinking. And it makes us aware that there are other people who think like we do - not just in any given country, but around the world.

People who think for themselves are often made to feel (by their national leaders, the MSM media, and other traditional opinion makers) that they are fringe-dwellers because they don't always agree with the so-called 'conventional wisdoms.' Blogging is changing that distorted perception.

LILY BRANFORD said...

Wow pinkfem I think that was awesome, actually all of these thoughts are. I hope even those of us that are fringe dwellers come to be seen as WELCOME fringe dwellers though, necessary, and important.

Left of Center said...

As my blog profile says: "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." -- John Kenneth Galbraith
Now, most people I know that drive the big gas hogs are Republican, but not all. I'm one of those cool people that has a radical mini van. It seats 7 comfortably, has room in the back for stuff,gets good gas millage, is cheap to insure, and it drives like a car, not a 18 wheeler. I don't associate car with my ego, it a way to get from point a to point b, safely, and economically. I wish I lived where I didn't need any car. But thats not most of America. next to my favorite pet shop, is a laundromat. It's not the best of neighborhoods, but every time I go to the pet store there will be two or three Escalades parked at the laundromat. To my mind buying your own friggin washer and dryer is more important than having a pimp mobile. What these people don't realize is that people that really have money deduct much of the cost of the SUV as a business expense.

earl bockenfeld said...

I like this soundbite courtesy of Wesley Clark:

"This administration has taken us on a path to nowhere - replete with hyped intelligence, macho slogans and an incredible failure to see the obvious," Clark said in the broadcast

A path to nowhere? I've heard of that! Ted Stevens has dibbs on the bridges though.

Kvatch said...

People who think for themselves are often made to feel (by their national leaders, the MSM media, and other traditional opinion makers) that they are fringe-dwellers because they don't always agree with the so-called 'conventional wisdoms.' Blogging is changing that distorted perception.

But is it not the case that bloggers are becoming the makers of "traditional opinion". What is Pajamas Media about if not the "MSM-ing" of the big bloggers? Would Big-news feel so threatened if a dent weren't being made in their ability to dictate the conventional wisdom.

On the one hand this is discouraging, but on the other it's liberating. It means that you can definitely have an effect if you have a large enough audience, or...if you can make a big enough noise. That latter one requires enormous discipline--much greater discipline than your average blog-swarm.

I like the idea of "blog-nets" but they need some coordination in order to overcome the drone of the "big-voices" and the MSM.

tp said...

Blog nets???

abi said...

I agree about the big-readership blogs, Kvatch. But I'm not talking about them. Not ideas trickling down from a few large opinion makers, but ideas percolating up from networks of little guys.

I'm talking about average folks sitting alone in rooms and thinking about things, and suddenly, through blogging, realizing that there are lots of other people across the country and around the world who are thinking along the same lines. I find that reassuring, and liberating.

And I'm also talking about using the internet to collaboratively find a solution to a particular problem. At one time, a handful of people would meet at a cafe or someone's living room and hash out issues. The internet gives us the ability to network lots of people together, feed off of each others ideas, and possibly find solutions that a single person or a handful of people might not be able to reach.

Blog directories like Technorati are a start. But I think they could be much better.

Yep - coordinating these blog-nets is the question. I think it'll just evolve eventually. But I'm the impatient type.

earl bockenfeld said...

Oh, pity the poor SUV owners. No, really. Any more bad publicity and they're going to have to start meeting in church basements and drinking too much coffee before we nervously step forward to confess the awful truth: "Hi, my name is Nimrod and I drive a Ford F-150." "Hi, Nimrod."

Bad enough they have to pay up to $75 for a tank of gas, but now they learn that there is a national movement amoung la-di-da "ethics experts" to expose them as the rotten, selfish, dangerous, polluting road hogs they truly are.

These smartypants ethicists, who apparently don't find the human genome debate nearly sexy enought to ponder, believe that not nearly enough owners are "really thinking through" the decision to buy an SUV. As one explained it, "If you buy an SUV, you're buying your safety at the expense of someones else's."
Well, yes. And your point would be?

Sorry. I know that's not the PC reaction, but let's face it. If you're driving a Hyundai, which basically runs on air and tofu, and you get in an accident with an SUV, are you going to say, "Well, at least I have the courage of my convictions"? Hell, no. You're going to say: "Soon's I get outta this hospital bed and find my legs, I'm gonna get me a Suburban. Loaded."

Why should anyone apologize for wanting to buy the safest family vehicle they honestly cannot afford? It's the American way.

LILY BRANFORD said...

Earl! Ok let's look at it THIS way, the true way, the LILY way. We COULD be getting much better fuel economoy and much better everything out of an SUV if the pussilient energy bill raised CAFE standards. That action alone would do more to free us from oil than the expected oil in ANWR.
The point is not to demonize SUV's Earl, the point is perhaps to fight to make the products better because the technology exists and industry suppresses its use!

Did you see the South Park episode (yeah, I'm sad) about the "Smug" in the air from all the hybrid drivers? Who think they are conscious and aware?
I think what I am trying to say is that if committed activists have a hard time making lifestyle changes, it seems hard to fathom that other Americans will become concerned. I understand the SUV safety argument as I crashed one and got out unscathed. But we could look at it from the other end- efficiency.
But it is kind of funny, the confession thing.

Lew Scannon said...

Fear and safety, the cornerstone of the Capitalist society!

earl bockenfeld said...

It may have sounded like I drive a SUV, which I don't. But I've heard comments from SUV owners who are finally reconsidering SUVs because of the cost of gas AND all the bird salutes they get from other drivers. The Hummer SUV has to be considered obscene. The gas efficiency has to be improved to the max. But many of the gas-saving methods actually use more energy than the gas they replace. But the search needs to go on.

Willie Nelson has a real winner. He has BMWs that you can buy, that can run on fat-waste that you can get from McDonalds from the grease run-off they create making french fries and other greasy foods. Put that fat into your car and burn it, and not on your butt and thighs.

Sweden has a national plan to be free from oil dependence by 2020. Thats a real plan.

Kathleen Callon said...

Yes, I'm afraid most people do. Americans conspicuously consume and ignorantly avoid the truth, because it's easier this way.

LILY BRANFORD said...

There's a class not far from here on how to convert a vehicle to that kind of fuel, but it only works when one or two people in a town do this and can get free used oil from restaurants. This doesn't seem practical larger scale.

I wonder what some of you think about these ethanol/biodiesel vehicles. There's new GMC Yukon but the dealer didn't have one to look at yet... without a way to get the fuel though it would just be another SUV.

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

Words without action? How typically hippie. You see, we on the right back up our words...with large checks to the appropriate lawmakers!

Once some of you get a job, you can do the same! Isn't America great?

earl bockenfeld said...

I wonder what some of you think about these ethanol/biodiesel vehicles.

They're great, but the BEST thing, is what some talented people are doing to modify an existing hybrid-type vehicle. They put in a smaller battery powered system that works in combination with the hybrid vehicle. The car starts out using battery power, and switches automatically to the hybrid engine when the batteries are low. For short trips, the vehicle is battery powered, and longer trips the vehicle is battery powered at first and finishes with the hybrid engine. Short trips consume no fuel, and in combination, the mileage can increase from about 50 mpg to as high as 150 mpg. Fuel usage will vary due the mileages of the trips.

Battery power doesn't work alone, due to a short-distance range and a slow charge time. But together they do great. This is started by do-it-yourself hobbyists, but now kits are being developed to modify off-the-shelf hybrids to this dynamic-duo.

justin barker said...

Add one cup apathy and one cup fear mix until smooth.

The best part is that the conversation above is a rationalization of inactivity. Instead of talking about changing our habits we are talking about how some new technology is going to save us. heheh great! I've got an idea WALK. You'll have to leave earlier which means a little less time warming your chair, too bad.

Kathleen Callon said...

Ethanol/ flex fuel is the way of the future. We can grow and harvest it ourselves, and flex fuel allows cars to run on mixtures of ethanol/gas.

A friend of our has a veggie oil bus. It seems like it would be a hassle, but he swears it's not. He paid $700 for a kit to convert a diesel engine of his truck, but since they were made to run on it in the first place, this isn't always necessary.

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