Citizen Tleilax

Compelled To Take A Stand

I’ve been reading through the blog Please Pass on the Plastic by Michelle Walrath, executive producer of the anti bottled water film TAPPED (which I actually still have not seen), and it is a very potent example of the experience and concerns of a real person motivated to “green” living by what seem to be essentially survival concerns. She has young children and so lives the life of a mom, writing about normal things that she naturally comes into contact with that, upon investigation, are fraught with chemical danger.

If one wasn’t into this sort of thing–being concerned about what surrounds us Americans by default–they might think she’s gone a bit over the edge with all the “restrictions” placed on her or her children’s lives. The way she is with plastic reminds me of the way some people are with animal products in their diets, though she is not as completely exclusionary since plastic is even more omnipresent and potentially more difficult to completely avoid than animal-derived consumables. In addition to my environmental health concerns, I myself am an ethical (and environmental) vegan and have had much experience with being concerned about the ingredients and origins of everything.

There are several parallels in the way one who adopts wide filters to their behavior must interact with other people who don’t, whatever those particular filters may be. We often appear to be at least a little crazy, overly anal, and potentially offensive just on the fact that our own restrictive behavior implies that we don’t approve of things that other people are themselves commonly doing, which can make them feel uncomfortable and defensive in various degrees. And, of course, they are right–we don’t approve. But a little common sense and consideration leads rational abstainers to not hang the fact over everybody’s head all the time. I mainly just want to do my own thing unless it’s appropriate to discuss the philosophy of it to someone who wants to listen. Friends could do without a berating every meal you share together, or whatever the case may be.

Ultimately the difference here all comes down to logic, and how far one takes it. An understanding of logical implications is what compels people to make sweeping changes to their behavior, to take a stand on things and live their lives differently. Some people choose to not pay any attention to all the things that are presented to us as normal, whether that be food types, packaging methods, product origins, political choices, whatever. They either don’t care, won’t dedicate the effort to care, or simply can’t afford the time to research potential issues and alternatives, or even come to the realization that research might be necessary. They all end up just taking what’s given from whoever is doing the giving, because that’s where things end for them–the end product and their obvious use of it. There is no further investigation beyond those surface functions. The process of things arriving to our possession is far enough removed from the end-user that it’s easy to not think about what negative things might have happened on the way, or what negative things have yet to result from those processes.

Other people, however, have connected an array of evidential dots in their minds that has led them to the realization of undeniable facts: that there are significant problems involved in current socially established procedures which affect the whole of humanity, and all life on this planet. Following the facts to their logical conclusions clearly shows that regularly contributing to and participating in these social procedures represents many more serious problems, ones that we ourselves as individuals are responsible for.

In the end, these problems are very basic and deal with things that almost everybody is concerned with on some level, things such as health, and death. “Sustainability” means staying alive. “Green” means preventing debilitating disease and suffering. People who are very short-sighted often overlook the real meanings of these words. They are only concerned with what affects themselves personally, and even still in only particular, limited moments. It’s a simple fact that many people are blunderingly self-centered, and cannot or will not expand their consciousness beyond their own compact and immediate little existence. Perhaps they are overly stubborn or have yet to deal with personal issues that prevent them from seeing pieces of a larger picture. Or perhaps they’re waiting for a convincing presentation to release the cerebral chokehold that false arguments designed to stifle change have locked them into.

In any case, I myself find it intellectually and creatively stimulating to find out all the things I should not be participating in, everyday things that are commonly taken for granted. It’s a fun challenge to see how much I can alter my life beyond the status quo everybody operates from in their average consumer lives. I look forward to having multiple filters that to the uninitiated might make my behavior seem like that of a strange and obsessed neurotic.

My economic protest means that my energy (finances, time, focus, etc) is sent in more appropriate directions and ends up working more for me, my goals, and my philosophy, instead of supporting people that make exploitation their business and pass it on to you in the form of life-destroying products and processes. I become more self-sufficient; instead of depending upon people who care more about money and power than anything else, I reclaim that power for myself and extract myself from their oppression. I reap the benefits of my truly increased freedom. The logic of these benefits is yet another compelling force encouraging me to take a stand and actually change my life to match the moral and practical philosophy that I have developed.