All too often it can prove edgy to speak one’s mind. Your values surface to the tip of your tongue but you hold tight for fear that you’ll expose a part of yourself at odds with your coworkers; at odds with your spouse, church or employer.
Let’s focus on an unintended consequence of our complex industrial system: the steady loss of life. Be it the loss of bio-diversity, the creation of toxic waste, aggravating global warming…… each of us contributes to this tragic drama. Many of us willing to acknowledge this loss of life find ourselves making a living by supporting, to some degree, this loss of life.
You may believe in steady state economics. Do you bring this up at a Board of Realtors meeting?
Perhaps you consider over-consumption a compelling issue. Do you share this with your coworkers at a staff meeting at Best Buy?
Damn that cognitive dissonance; that friction between our values and our actions.
How might one reduce the heat generated by this friction? Where’s the WD-40 when we need it?
Well, one way is to avoid the friction altogether. Upton Sinclair tells us that "It is difficult to get people to understand something when their salary depends upon them not understanding it."
But we’ll leave these folks to their toxic world of denial. Instead, I want to shed light upon you….. one of the aware.
Clearly, if the cognitive dissonance is of sufficient magnitude, you’ll jump ship. You’ll change jobs and go to work for an environmental non-profit; you’ll find friends who can hear your voice and share your concern; perhaps you’ll find a church that embraces the stewardship of the planet that’s aligned to your values.
Alternately, you may find your circumstances a bit more cementitious. You may feel stuck at your job because you need to sustain your income in order to send your kid through college. The details vary, but life can tend to hold you at bay, unable to act.
Although you may feel stuck, consider growing an anonymous voice for action aligned with your values.
Why not, for example, donate anonymously to a non-profit that’s working hard on an issue close to your heart. Have you ever looked at the list of major donors on the back of the Whatcom Watch? Many are anonymous. Why? Perhaps they don’t want to be hassled for additional requests for money. Or perhaps they are a realtor or a Best Buy salesperson who realizes their contribution to the loss of life.
On May 15th Derrick Jensen is coming to WWU (Fraser 4 at 7pm). He’s an acclaimed author who helps people discover their voice, be it public or anonymous. If you feel like logistics in your own world prevent you from caring for the environment in alignment with your concern for the loss of life, come hear his talk. He’ll challenge you deeply. He’ll reveal that 90% of the large fish on earth are gone and ask you at what point you will take charge of your actions. Will it be when 95% are gone? 98%?
Find your voice and make it so, even if it be anonymous. Or, as Paul Wellstone has said, “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.”