These are all statements which I’m increasingly finding to be a hindrance, rather than a help.
There are some non-negotiables in life, like death and taxes. But generally speaking, our existences are pretty fluid, as is our behaviour.
We have multiple modes of being and often display array of dazzling behaviours and personality traits (I’m just talking about myself here on any given Sunday morning, depending on how much sleep I get.)
Cutting out all of the hyperbole, it’s fair to say that we are not perfect, nor do we live in a perfect world.
To expect us therefore to conform to a strict set of behaviours, 100% of the time, is unrealistic and frankly ludicrous.
I had an argument recently with someone, a dear friend actually, about this kind of thinking and how it applies to trying to live a more sustainable/eco-friendly/ethical lifestyle.
Said friend has an all or nothing approach, with ethical standards so high that they don’t even meet them (hello, recipe for happiness right here.) They have to be the perfect vegan, the perfect zero waste producer, the perfect environmental advocate. For them, it is all or nothing, with no margin for error.
It’s not surprising that they often “mess up” and like a diet, once you have taken one delicious bite, the chances are you throw the whole thing out the window and order a 16" pizza, or in their case, throw all of their good intentions to the wind and do nothing at all.
Then I come along, someone who is extremely passionate about all these issues, but doesn’t always, for many reasons, do the “right thing”.
I drive a car. I occasionally eat meat. I don’t always remember to bring a reusable bag to the shop. I sometimes put the dryer on when it’s dark and I know fully well I could have done it whilst the solar panels were generating.
Apparently this means I’m failing and you know what, it’s time to respond to that assertion.
In an ideal world, if we were all serious about making the most positive ecological and environmental difference, we would all move to non-consumer lifestyles and stop eating meat.
This would just be the start really… think about all of the ideal world actions we could all collectively take!
The thing is, we don’t live in an eco-utopia and there’s little chance of it happening.
We can all do something.
Every single person has the power to make positive choices in some capacity.
This might be as simple as remembering to turn off the lights when you aren’t in the room, or it might be a substantial pledge to cycle to work every day. It doesn’t matter, because something is always better than nothing.
I am becoming more and more convinced that people can be put off doing anything at all when groups or movements demand 100% from them. Surely it is better to have 80% of the population making a 20% effort to live more sustainable lives than have 1% make an 80% effort?
However, what I do not want to promote here is complacency or underplay the seriousness of the issues at hand. I don’t think this is the time or place to lecture on the ecological and environmental hole that humanity has dug for itself, but I think it’s fair to say we need to change our habits if we want to carry on as a species.
If we accept that we can not expect people to become perfect consumers and citizens overnight, we move towards a different set of questions.
How do we create the conditions for gradual and bearable change? How do we inspire people, all people, to make those little positive choices that will accumulate both over time and as more people adopt them.
These are the questions I am asking myself at the moment, and when I find some answers, you will know about them.