I want to differentiate between telling people facts and what to do or what they should do on one side, and leading them on the other. I see a lot of people telling others what to do. Not a lot of people leading. Martin Luther King led people to choose and want to go to jail to create freedom. That's leadership. He had no authority over them. He didn't convince them to do it. He didn't change their values. He gave them a way to achieve their goals of equality and justice. Well, we moved on that path since we haven't achieved it, but he led them. While he also went to jail, I'm talking about more than leading by example. Even without going to jail, King led people. Eisenhower led D-Day though he didn't fight in it. In neither case did they just tell people what to do or just model what to do. I'm talking about connecting with people's values -- what they care about -- and motivating people by their motivations, leading them to a better life, not just compliance. Almost nobody is leading like that today. As a result, nobody is being led and we, at least in the United States and most of the world polluting the most, are keeping doing what created the problem, choosing not to act productively. Of course, many people are acting productively, but it seems to me they would have anyway. They weren't led. The overwhelming majority of people won't budge from comfort and convenience without leadership.
Many people think if you just reason enough, you'll get to what's right and wrong in a way everyone will believe. This happens in the environment and many other places in life. In the environment, you may believe we should pass a law limiting emissions. When you hear another person suggest that that law might hurt jobs, you might think if you convince the other person through reason, they'll come to agree with you. Experience has shown me, and probably you, that trying to convince people tends to provoke debate. I'll show you why trying to convince others and change their behavior through reasoning usually backfires. Convincing and logical debate often leads people to reinforce their positions and dislike you. They think emotion gets in the way and confuses us from seeing clearly what's right and wrong. They don't understand reason, nor emotion, nor how the human mind works regarding judgment, which this post covers.
How do we elect people, including a United States President, who act on and steward the environment? I'm going to present a plan that I believe can win the next election that transcends the usual divisions that led to today's political situation, political misery, feelings of futility, and filth that we live in in air, land, and water, as well as our bodies. The links and images I referred to: 'Disgusting' piles of trash a fixture outside NYC's first 'green' school, residents say New York City stops sewage train to Alabama after residents complain of ‘horrific’ smell San Francisco’s crisis looks like New York’s future New York City's 1895 trash and sewage transformation [caption id="attachment_10031" align="aligncenter" width="700"] New York City before and after a sanitation transformation[/caption] [caption id="attachment_10032" align="aligncenter" width="620"] New York City 1895: children play by a dead horse[/caption] Buzzfeed videos on getting fit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wm7OtVr7yCE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wXbPghYuRs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okM3OYaBQGg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlQ8txalLYg https://youtu.be/TNQ8ZKq9QQo https://youtu.be/c8Q8AyFjWZM https://youtu.be/001Tuiv0tbY https://youtu.be/pioFto9aTEQ https://youtu.be/9tAbhNvWi90 My electric bill [caption id="attachment_10033" align="aligncenter" width="700"] My electric usage[/caption] Martha Graham's quote Here is the quote: The dancer is realistic. His craft teaches him to be. Either the foot is pointed or it is not. No amount of dreaming will point it for you. This requires discipline, not drill, not something imposed from without, but discipline imposed by you yourself upon yourself. Your goal is freedom. But freedom may only be achieved through discipline. In the studio you learn to conform, to submit yourself to the demands of your craft, so that you may finally be free. Over a year to fill one bag of garbage https://youtu.be/L0Ud7gqcIMg Feeding 50 people with no packaging at under $3 per person See the pictures of the event here. Note everyone enjoying themselves.
First world people pollute hundreds of times more than third world people yet the material prosperity doesn't translate to greater happiness. Specifically, according to the National Academy of Science, "The striking thing about the happiness–income paradox is that over the long-term —usually a period of 10 y or more—happiness does not increase as a country's income rises." We could reduce our waste by 75% while improving our quality of life, yet we claim we can't do it. Yet we travel to the third world to change them! Leaders are more effective when humble than proud. Paternalism rarely helps any relationships. In this post I explore how we in the first world act with paternalism and pride to justify our extravagant, wasteful behavior, missing how we could learn from others.
People ask if I think we can make it out of our environmental mess. I don't know, but I act on my values. Many examples of cultural change suggest we can make it, including Smoking Drunk driving Seat belts Leaded gas and paint The ozone layer Bike lanes in New York City My podcast guests My podcast Starting a sustainability committee and more.
How we treat our bodies is how we are treating our environment. How we treat the environment is how we are treating our bodies. The fat and CO2 concentrations aren't the cause of the problem. The are the effects. The cause is our behavior. Our behavior is rooted in our beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. If we want to change the effects, we have to change the causes, which is our behavior and changing behavior is the realm of leadership. Our environmental and obesity-related behaviors, beliefs, emotions, and motivations are more similar than different, they come from similar cultural trends, they have documented problems of disease and death no matter how people change standards to accept them, there's just no changing standards on suffering and death, and the way out is through leadership.
Why do I think about the United States Constitution when my pressure cooker finishes cooking? Or when I leave a room? The U.S. Constitution guides my environmental behavior and has since I learned it in elementary school. Today is U.S. Constitution Day since today in 1787 the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia and that's why today I'm sharing why I love the document, live by it, and think about it daily---specifically Article VI, paragraph 2, which I read and talk about in today's post: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Neither the environment nor your life responds to your awareness. They respond to your behavior. People who speak the truth say, "I'm telling the truth." People who lie say the same thing. People who are aware say they are aware. People who are unaware say the same thing too. Only we're all unaware of what we're unaware of. Saying we're aware only reveals our ignorance of our unawareness. That's pride. If you want to improve the environment or your life, claiming awareness may sound like progress and may get you social approval, but in more cases it stops people from acting. What works? Humility. Viewing action as skills that you develop and practice. How do you develop skills? Practice, practice, practice. The results? Greatness, authenticity, genuine self-expression, and all the other results of mastery, even from environmental skills. Want results? Avoid seeing awareness as a goal. Act. Do. Develop skills.
People seem impressed when people don't pollute. They say, "That's so good of you!" If not polluting is good, doesn't that mean polluting is normal? I don't think we should see not polluting as special. Let's view it as normal. Here's the Chris Rock routine I mentioned (not even close to safe for work): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0B_ekSrsEk
2 minutes and 53 seconds to show you the trends people are following back to what used to be normal and healthy. Fight against clean and pure all you want. You'll follow eventually. Why not start now and lead?