I find it difficult to give a shit about things that I can’t relate to, but sometimes my give-a-shit is stimulated in the most unexpected ways.
Bears & Turtles Teach me About Climate Change
As a product of the 80’s, I’ve heard about “global warming”/climate change for most of my life. For example, the “greenhouse effect” was something I first remember reading about at around age six or seven.
I actually read about it in this book so I knew it was a serious issue.
But even though my childhood heroes, the turtles mentioned such problems, they never seemed more than a background concern for me.
Then, at some point I saw a picture similar to this one:
The polar bear has been, for as long as I can remember my favourite animal, and this emaciated, sickly-looking bear is one of the casualties of loss of habitat due to human activities. Suddenly the importance of our actions crystallized for me. And whether or not you put stock in concepts like climate change, global warming, etc., I want to illustrate that a picture like this one is what made such concepts real and tangible for me.
Jesus the Smoove Mack-Daddy
In September 2009 I resumed my university career after a three-year hiatus which included a stint in Afghanistan. I wouldn’t say that the experience made me cynical, but I recognized a need for organized violence in the world as a reality of life. When doing my course selection for that returning year I decided to take Theory and Practice of Non-Violence for giggles and to see what it was all about. I found the readings and the lessons interesting but I just relegated it to the area of my brain reserved for fanciful notions like unicorns and the female anal orgasm.
Fast forward to late in the semester and I was still puzzling over what to write about for my final paper. The idea of arguing for the necessity of violence in the world had fallen flat when I ran it by the prof and I wasn’t really sure what to do. As I sat reading one of the class’ weekly readings, an idea started percolating. The reading was a modern interpretation of Jesus’ actions and showed how he was the paragon of non-violence, but what it read like to me was a guide on how to be an alpha male. To me it smacked of pick-up literature,
and Jesus was painted to be a master of social dynamics. Something clicked in my head and I began to see the wisdom of non-violence, especially when viewed as just being cool and not being a dick. I hadn’t completely accepted it as an ethos, but it had taken root in my head in this much more palatable permutation.
The Point of All This
There is a saying about leading horses to water but not being able to make them drink. There is merit to this saying but I think it begs the question, “Why isn’t the horse drinking?” Well, why didn’t I accept certain propositions until after their merit was seen in a more personal, relateable light? Personally, I am fond of saying that “While it is the listeners duty to understand, it is the speaker’s duty to be understood.” The upshot is that whether you are talking or listening, the onus of understanding is always on you.
I guess I bring this us because I used to beat people over the head with (my) truth. And while my convictions have remained the same I find that I am much more effective at communicating now because I realize how long even the most evident and truthful ideas can take to be accepted and take root.
Rest assured though that no matter how long it takes, the truth will always take root.
ADDENDUM: I think there is a point here about the importance for a unified view of the planet. We so often tend to try and remedy the injustices to disenfranchised groups through piecemeal actions which inevitably disenfranchise other groups. Whether you think its right or not, there is a very real feeling of alienation among males suspicious of feminism, among whites suspicious of affirmative action, etc. As a result, people take on a tribalistic mentality and only care for those immediately around them or who are of a similar demographic (I think this is ultimately a problem of scarcity, but that’s another discussion). Taking a unified view and viewing ourselves as one species would make the imperative of treating each other well really hit home and force us to question a scarcity-based system which forces us to get ahead at the expense of our fellow human beings.