I have been following a Facebook thread about the movement in my beloved hometown of Concord to ban plastic water bottles, plastic bags and styrofoam cups. I am trying to discern whether or not my initial responses are pure and true and not simply reactionary and cynical, for I’ve often wondered where I stand on things like this. I am blessed and befuddled by my ornery nature. who can argue with arguments that are intrinsically true, but practically misplaced and reek of privilege and righteousness.
I applaud anything that is forward thinking, but I always have a visceral response to anyone who tells me what to do and how to live my life. Some of my initial responses are pretty narrow-minded, but maybe the new revolution is much more subtle and needs bold models to frame a new paradigm of thinking, but it is just very hard for me to see the economic excesses of the “new” Concord and to try to reconcile it with a greater sense of a world that is by and large just struggling to survive.
Perhaps, it is simple jealousy. I don’t want to call it hypocrisy because it is not: these are people who are sincerely arguing for a better approach to living in a sustainable way. Who can argue with that? The greater irony, however, is that economic privilege almost invariably distorts our views of what is truly essential and important. To live in a million home and lament plastic water bottles and styrofoam cups seems a bit disingenuous to any family that is simply trying to make ends meet and raise a family in a dignified–and sustainable–way.
This said, I do agree with what they are trying to do. We do need a sustainable planet and we certainly have to start somewhere, but that will only happen with a “sustainable” economy that floats the boats of the poor and lessens the excesses of the rich. Otherwise, this change is only gesture and not progress. Sell your second and third cars; sell your summer home; forgo your trips to exotic places; open your door and not merely your hearts, and then maybe your arguments will have a resonance that is pure and real and, most importantly, convincing because it may be it is you who is not living in an ecumenical and sustainable way.