Every day I think about the things like the climate, energy descent, and food security. I then wonder if I am doing enough to communicate those issues during my day without sounding like a nut job. Herein lays my problem.
I don’t know if it is just me, but when I get going on one of these subjects to someone, I get a special look from whoever I am talking to (unless they are also aware of the issues I bang on about on this blog).
By now I kind of expect it around the two minute mark of what ever I am on about. You know the look. The blank stare and glazed look from the recipient. The look that means that they just want to run away and not listen to this crazy man talking about things I don’t want to know about. Stuff just too difficult to accept is happening. It is just one of my character traits now that I know about the issues that confront us. I am a laugh to be around when I get on my high horse.
Allow ex US president GW Bush to demonstrate.
|Mr Bush talking to Gavin|
Case in point; a friend of mine was opening one of those little cans of tuna, and I casually mentioned that tuna was going extinct from overfishing. He said no its not, because if it was, it would have been on the news. He rolled his eyes and walked away. [For more info on overfishing check out this post titled “End of the Line – Understanding“]. I knew I had gone too far, and knew it when I was saying it, but I couldn’t stop. I wasted my breath because tuna was on the menu again today.
Another example kind of goes like this; I saw someone throwing a plastic milk carton into the landfill bin at work. I couldn’t stop myself. I had to say something. I just got a blank stare like I had just landed from Planet Koosbane as he watched me fish the carton out of the bin and put it in the recycle bin right next to it! 100 years or more in landfill anyone?
|Exactly how I feel some days. Is this thing on?|
A final example makes me walk away instead of the other way around, mainly because I would have just lost it instead. The classic school run. You know the one. A school is only 300 metres (984 ft) away, and within a safe walking distance. But noooo. The school must be driven too. Why?!? It really shits me. I see it all the time.
Didn’t the IPCC just hand down the fifth paper telling us to start to cut emissions or face a disastrous future? Didn’t they just tell us that it is 99% certain that we human are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels? I am pretty sure they did, or was I imagining the whole thing?
And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I could go on and on with real life examples. However, I know there is hope. Just look at the recently launch and crowd funding of the Climate Council. I am very proud to say that I threw twenty dollars to this worthy and valuable organisation.
Anyway, time to get off my high horse (sorry), and get back to trying to be sane in an insane world.
So I ask you this one question. How do you cope, or am I just certifiable, need a straight jacket, and all alone in my thoughts? Scream below in a comment if you find it helps.
L from 500m2 in Sydney says
I’m totally with you, but I must ashamedly admit that I’m one of *those* mothers that often drives the school run instead of walking. When you have 3 kids under 6, one can’t walk and another won’t, sometimes you just have to do what you can, and I do a lot in other areas.
Totally familiar with the glazed eyes though 🙂
I like the title. Applicable to other areas in our social and political life as well. Gavin, you are not alone. Any progress in human history has been driven by a tiny minority.
Pavel - Desirable World says
When I walk home from work I pass hundreds of cars sitting at the lights carrying a single occupant. I give them the benefit of the doubt “Perhaps they live far away and the public transport is rubbish out there” or “Perhaps they have cargo”. I am sure those two scenarios, and others, are true. However, it’s also probably true that many of these motorists do live within a walkable / cyclable / public transportable distance of their workplace and they haven’t a need to carry cargo all the time. I’d love to carry a sign someday, something along the lines of “Haha, you’re stuck in traffic. Serves you right. Get off your butt, ride a bike, walk, or catch the bus to work someday. It’s cheaper, healthier and better for the planet!”
Keep chipping away mate! It does make a difference!
Just remember the story of the starfish on the beach 🙂
Great post! Don’t be to discouraged. Sometimes when you are on your ” high horse’ you have a view of things that others just don’t see yet. I have known more than a few folks that take time to digest the information that is given them. They go home, do some of their own research and eventually come to the same conclusions as you do. Keep up the good work.
I completely hear ya Gav. The good news is that you’re not alone. The bad news is that at the moment there seem to be more of “them” than “us”.
Remember George Orwells quote from 1984: “Sanity is not statistical”
Subtle works best I find – I leave magazines lying round at work ‘accidently’ , make food that has been made sustainably . No one can argue about a cake made with free range eggs.People don’t like being told stuff ,they like to think they thought of it themselves.Make a poster to go above the recycling bin with what goes in it ( and do it secretly so people just think ‘management ‘ did it.
And yes I get those George Bush looks too at times when I can’t hold it in any longer.
The example you are living Gavin is working on a heap of people everyday And the ones that ignore you will be really hungry and unhappy when peak oil starts affecting us really badly. Then they will be saying’ I am sorry, I should have listened to you.’
keep going. at a xmas party last year a guy was going on about his organic strawberries and such, i was straining my neck to listen in on the conversation….afterwards the men he was talking too where like “what a wally” borrrrrriiinggg….and i would have spent all day talking to him, and in fact had the opportunity recently and yarned away for hours, found it facinating….so dont stop cos someone may just be in the background taking it all in.
Most people (not all) are selfish. “It is all about me and why should I change” and when the shit hits the fan it will be “why doesn’t the government do something, I shouldn’t have to put up with this”. And fortunately I will be dead and not have to put up with them.
BUT, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can while we can to live a sensible existence. And good on those like yourself who are prepared to be vocal about it.
Hang in there Gavin. When the proverbial hits the fan those with glazed looks will realise that “hey there was that guy who knew what he was on about” and then they will be your best friends – right after they have finished blaming everyone else for what has happened. Keep promoting what you do – there are many of us who are listening.
I typically deal with it by challenging their status quo. ‘Oh, so you drive your kid 300m to school in the mornings. Why not walk?’ Then it at least gets them actually THINKING about why they do the things they do. And maybe considering other options. On the milk bottle thing, that is sheer lunacy. Good on you for showing your colleague the way its done. Don’t worry about being on your high horse. That’s what high horses are for!
People are addicted to living the modern day life. Like smokers, they don’t register that their addiction is doing them and others harm. We can talk at them all we like but it won’t make a difference until the day they actually have to make a change. They see our lives as hard and deprived. Why spend weekends gardening, making and mending when you could be brunching and shopping? I get a high from picking fresh from the garden, they get a high from buying things, going places, and striving for ‘bigger, newer and better’ in everything. These things give their lives meaning and social currency. Their lives are just perfect and they can’t understand what the hell I am on about. I often get ‘science will fix it’ or ‘I’ll be dead by then’. I wish their was another planet I could bundle them all on and let them go for it. I just want to share this Earth with people who care about it.
Gavin Webber says
Good point Penny. So many I talk to are waiting for the ‘Technofix’ that is not coming.
As an ex smoker (and a very heavy smoker too) I knew full well what I was doing to myself and those around but I didn’t WANT to know. Never underestimate the human ability to ignore the truth, even when it stares you in the face. 😉
You catch more flies with honey. One thing that stuck out from reading the Transition Town Handbook was that people are more likely to respond positively to positive thoughts. Instead of condescending them one could say “you know, you can recycle that milk bottle, just rinse it and it’s good to go!” Insert stats for even more positive impact, like “It takes 125 recycled plastic milk bottles to manufacture a 140 litre wheelie bin”. Or something.
Disclaimer: I’ve actually never tried this out, so I won’t give any guarantees. I’m just too shy to speak up about things I care about 🙁
Gavin Webber says
Hi Krista. Normally I would agree, and up until now that is what I have been doing. But how much honey are we prepared to waste before it sinks in. When I look around at some thoughtless behaviours it feels like I am banging my head against the wall.
Oh, you’re not alone, Gav. I don’t know when you started greening but I started back in the 70’s. That’s when we were called ‘ratbag’ greenies. You probably don’t remember the bumper stickers “fertilise the bush; doze in a greenie”. You didn’t just get glazed eyes, you got real abuse from the rednecks. They’re still around, but quieter with it; at least they don’t have climate change denial bumper stickers.
We just keep with it because we have to. I long for the day when I can say, “I told you so”, to a few selected people. Hang in there.
You can lead a horse to water mate…
Keep doing what you do. One day maybe they will drink.
(And I think calling them horses is far more polite than sheep isn’t it? 😉 )
Don’t get me started on those short car trips and one person travelling in a car by themselves…
I walk a 40 minute round trip 3 times a day Mon-Wed, and twice a day Thurs & Fri to get my 2 kids to school and kinder. I can’t wait for this term to be over, then it’s only twice a day every day next year. I choose not to drive, and I feel free in doing so. I’ve been hit by a car once (with my whole family, only a nudge luckily, but enough to shake you up), and had a few near misses where I’ve had the green man signal, and cars still come around the corner as if you’re not there. It’s like drivers don’t expect to come across pedestrians any more. I feel well and truly outnumbered by cars, and the vast majority have one person in them, such a waste of the oil that remains.
Keep on keeping on Gavin. You are doing a great job in spreading the word.
You are an inspiration to us followers and I’m sure the ripples will spread.
I really feel compelled to comment.
The kind of judgements and criticisms I’m reading here only endsorse the view of the smug and the superior. This is not going to win friends and influence people.
It is easy to criticise mothers. We are generally a disempowered group, and are subject to all sorts of guilt and critiques. You do not know where those “short drive” mothers are going AFTER school drop off. Maybe to work, to do the big grocery shop, to care for other relatives, or in my case, take the second child to kinder which is too far to walk.
My husband commutes a long distance to work. Usually he takes public transport – 1 1/2 hours each way. But sometimes he just wants to get home to his family, so he drives. Or maybe he has to go somewhere else on the way home. So he will be alone in the car.
In a crazy, cold and unhelpful world, I read this blog to learn and try to find some community. Not to be judged.
Gavin Webber says
Hi Kim. I am sorry you feel that way. I apologise if I sounded smug and superior, as that was not my intent. Nor was it my intent to ostracise any of my readers.
However, you may noticed if you re-read the post that I did not target mothers at all. No gender was specified. Nor did I target commuters.
My point was that people just need to stop and think once in a while about their actions, which I am sure some do, however via general observation, I see many oblivious to the current crisis. I feel like I can never do enough to help.
I hope you continue to visit the blog.
Thanks for the reply
Whilst you did not mention commuters, other commenters did. And while you did not mention gender explicitly, your comment about
“The classic school run. You know the one. A school is only 300 metres (984 ft) away, and within a safe walking distance. But noooo. The school must be driven too. Why?!?”
does target mothers implicitly. Mothers dominate in school drop off.
And here’s why among my friends:
1. works full time as an account manager which means she requires her car
2. Frequently visits elderly father in nursing home in next suburb
3. Visits community garden two suburbs away
4. Has 2 other children – one of whom doesn’t walk, one of whom is sloooooow
5. Drops off other child at kinder another 1.5km away (uphill)
But whether they are targeted or no, you are still judging when you know nothing about that persons responsibilities, commitments, requirements and decisions.
And that ain’t fair.
Gavin Webber says
Hi Kim. You are entitled to your opinion, as am I.
It’s not you Gavin, it’s them. I have a similar experience when I get on my soapbox when my friends complain about the loss of local busineses and the fact that Woolworths is too far to drive … simultaneously. They look at my homegrown produce like I’ve somehow invented time travel but don’t seem to listen when I tell them that, with a bit of work (which is healthy for them anyway) they could do the same. They complain about the rising cost of electricity, but don’t listen when I tell them my solar array generates 90% of our electricity needs.
Like a few posters above, I also hear the ‘science will fix it’ argument too often. Science is almost the new god of our age, but it seems to have given people a free pass to taking any action themselves.
It’s really disappointing that, as human beings, we have the answers to a lot of these issues right in front of us, but society is too blind, lazy or stupid to see them.
See, now I’m up on my soapbox again … would you mind helping me down? 😉