Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

My petulant inner-child makes a cameo

I have yet to start work on today's TOTD because I've been crafting this, my latest and (until I lose my focus again) final contribution to this tiresome line of discussion which started on my comix page, and has now moved (with my help) to the Level-3 list.

There are three players in the text that follows: Me, Reed Konsler, and Monty Vonn.


Just so there's no implied sarcasm dripping from this post, I'll re-iterate the judgments that I've already explicitly communicated to Monty.

Monty, while I share your concern for the environment (if not your zeal and particular hot-buttons), I agree with Reed in thinking that you come across as dogmatic and inflexible. I feel distant from you (and, to some extent, from your cause) when I make this judgment.

Monty wrote:

Absolutely! My biggest cry to others is encouragement of smaller families, and praising those who choose to have none or just one child. On a list of activities and their environmental impacts, having a child is on the very top of the list. Being that my child bearing activities are over...

Reed wrote:

It is my impression that you are focusing on specific "hot buttons" like having children and the horrid SUV. The story that I make up about you is that, because you have this level-2 tendency to be somewhat inflexible and judgmental, your perceptions of people are one-dimensional. This doesn't make me feel any closer or further from you, but it does lead me to discount most of what you say. It seems to me that you will find any person that doesn't share your (in my opinion extreme) lifestyle to be bad.

My response to that is... [shrug] ... whatever. Opinion noted.

When I shared the general outlines of this discussion with my wife, she opened The Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Iovine to page 172 and read:

Let's Ask the Man on the Street for His Advice

One thing this Food Issue has in common with choosing whether or not to have a drug-free delivery is the fact that everyone you meet has an opinion about it. "What business is it of theirs?" you might reasonably ask.* Why, none, of course. But that doesn't dampen the enthusiasm of complete strangers who come up to your pregnant self to inquire about your plans for delivery, whether your doctor performs episiotomies as a rule and how much your
insurance covers. Same way with feeding. The entire world finds it essential to know what your baby will be eating and how it will be administered. And if that's not intrusion enough, they ask how your mother fed you!

Don't think for a minute that I am cutting these people any slack by suggesting that they are just benignly curious, concerned about your well-being or simply taking a sort of unbiased survey of all the new mothers they meet. Not in a million years! These people have full-blown opinions and you are entitled to them, no matter how much you might protest to the contrary. If you are undecided about whether you will breast-feed or feed formula, these eager beavers will lobby for one side or the other, usually with ample and convincing testimony about their own perfectly miraculous mothering experiences. But you don't have to be a mother to have strong convictions on the Food Issue. This is a subject that seems to be fair game for anyone, even if they have only seen babies on TV. Men can advise you to do whatever their own wives did, which, it goes without saying, was the best choice. And if the advocate has never had a baby or a wife, he can simply recommend that you do whatever Katie Couric and Jane Seymour did. After all, if it's good enough for Katie and Jane, it's damn well good enough for a nobody like you.

What really gets my panties in a bunch is when a pregnant woman or new mother has already made up her mind in favor of breast or formula feeding, for her own presumably valid reasons, and some well-intentioned busybody(oxymoron?) tries to make her change her mind! You would think some of these people were getting a commission on each convert, they sell their point of view so enthusiastically. These folks really should consider getting a hobby, or maybe a LIFE! I think that new mothers or mothers-to-be should answer the question "Are you going to breast-feed or give formula?" by asking back, "What would you prefer me to do, sir (or ma'am)?" After they make their recommendation, and you can be certain they will, just say with all the sincerity you can muster, "Then that's precisely what I will do. Thank you so much for your guidance." If they detect a little sarcasm in your answer, good they deserve it. If they don't, you have still nipped a diatribe in the bud, and you should feel free to continue abusing them until they stop talking.

* As I was transcribing the passage from the book, this is where I imagined you would make your first rejoinder, Monty. Don't bother. I'm not arguing against your Green BS (belief system), so you needn't argue for it. Not here, anyway.

Since you don't know me, let me repeat. I SHARE YOUR CONCERNS ABOUT THE IMPACT OF HUMAN ACTIVITY ON THE ECOLOGY OF THIS PLANET. Now, I expect that you see a disparity between this claim and the fact that I drive an SUV, indulge in the occasional packet of crispy, golden, fried, Russet-Burbank potatoes from McDs (yes, I know that a single McDonalds uses as much electricity as 25 private homes at peak consumption and promotes global monoculture farming), or that I provide my three (yes THREE!) pets with more and better health care than most children in this world receive.

We share the same concern. We devote different amounts of attention and psychic energy to bringing our behavior into alignment with our shared concern. I get the impression that you've made the judgment that I'm, to quote Brad Pitt's character from 12 Monkey's, a "pusillanimous pretend friend to animals" (or in this case, the entire biosphere).

Now, imagine how much difference Ted Kazcinski sees between you driving 5,000 miles a year and me driving 12,000 miles a year, or between your computer with a 150 mH processor and my computer with a 450 mH processor.

I'll bet that in his mind, he has made genuine efforts to live consistently with his disdain for modern industrial life and your efforts (were you to recount them to him) would amount to a trivial token gesture.

Could you live with the knowledge that the Unibomber (or some non-criminal but equally fanatical person who lives without electricity, plumbing, a car or personal computer) doesn't think you live consistently with your expressed beliefs?

Do you think the world would be a better place if the Amish and Mennonites, instead of quietly expressing their convictions in the living of their daily lives, hung out at Westlake Center haranguing passers-by for their excessive consumption and embrace of every new technology that comes down the pike? Would you think more or less of them if they behaved this way?

SUMMATION: I have no interest in changing or criticizing your belief system. I do have an interest in communicating to you that the more you flog your BS on this list, detail your own efforts at conservation and criticize my choices, the more I dismiss YOU (not your belief system) as a self-righteous blowhard and tune you out. Make of this information what you will.

Take care.



"It isn't a perfect world, but each and every little decision does indeed add up."

-Monty Vonn

The ground rules of Level-3:
1. Keep the conversation constructive.
2. Be clear about your purpose.
3. Use the communication model


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(no subject) - gucky - Jan. 25th, 2002 12:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 25th, 2002 12:11 pm (UTC)
OK, I'm sorry if my point has been brought out and flogged to death in the original forum, but aren't you talking about different priorities? There's a big laundry list of things to be concerned about from global warming to China's human rights violations to the War on Drugs to the state of my housecleaning. When Joe says that the WoD is the most important thing and Suzy says that it's global warning, and I just want them to clean the catbox once in a while, what we're basically saying (when we get really wound up about it ) is "Unless you agree with my prioritization of these things and the appropriate reaction to them, you're a bad person.". It's as if once something falls off the top of the list, it falls off the list completely. Additionally, if there's the tinyiest seperation from the orthodoxy, it's taken as a sign of complete disagreement. (Therefore, your SUV *PROVES* that you're not a committed environmentalist.)

Again, sorry I'm repeating old news.
Jan. 28th, 2002 09:42 am (UTC)
Exactly what I would have said...
...had I taken a self-justificatory tack. Instead I chose to let Monty know just what a raving he fanatic he sounds like to me. I have little interest in justifying my actions to him and his ilk.

Had I taken the self-justificatory route, I hope I would have written something like a cross between your argument and this one from Reed:

Individuals indulge in different luxuries.
Some people maintain two houses, others take lots of
vacations. Some people buy fast computers (do you
have any idea how much waste is produced in the
refining of chip-grade silicon)?

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't think about
the impact of what you do...my point is simply that being
alive is a consumptive, waste producing process. That,
and that most of the "environmental impact" of modern
civilization is hidden from our direct influence in things
like residental, commercial, and industrial sewerage.

In a zen sort of way, trying to live as simply as possible
is a great idea. But driving a gas efficient car and
recycling your tin cans and newspapers really isn't
going to have a substantial long-term effect. You want
electricity? We burn oil, coal, or uranium. The
environmental effect of your refrigerator is as
significant as your car.

Defending one's choices in consumption is like
defending your right to be alive.



Amen, brother Reed. Amen, brother Blorky.

Peace out.

Jan. 27th, 2002 01:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks for linking to Brodie. This was our first introduction to his thoughts. Very, very cool.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

August 2017


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Ideacodes