Saying you care versus acting.

May 8, 2024 by Joshua
in Leadership, Nonjudgment

Over and over I meet people who say they care about the environment and people affected by human impact on the environment . . . yet they refuse to acknowledge their impact. Still they complain how somehow others don’t care, even as their own impact is as great.

What does it mean to care if your actions achieve the opposite of caring. What does you saying you care matter to the people and wildlife you harm while polluting and depleting and therefore promoting and funding the people and industries you claim don’t care?

How to think about your caring

Imagine two people in 1855 in the American south

  • One doesn’t care about slavery or slaves, but doesn’t buy any slave-produced goods.
  • The other claims to care deeply about the plight of slaves but buys tons of slave-produced cotton, rice, and so on.

Which person would you rather be: the one who doesn’t care but also doesn’t harm or the one who claims to care but funds the system causing the harm?

Nearly everyone I’ve heard claim to care about the environment and people suffering from human impact on it funds that human impact. We don’t have to act this way, but most people who say they care act the opposite. When we look at other times and places, removing our culpability and complicity, it’s obvious. When it’s about ourselves, we suppress, deny, and attack others, saying things like “stop trying to make me feel guilty” or “shaming doesn’t work” when our consciences create the guilt and shame for violating our values, not other people.

How we could do it: The best of both

We could manifest the best of both of the two people I described. We can say we care and not fund degradation. If you say you care, you can act like it.

It bears repeating: If you say you care, you can act like it.

And stop calling me extreme for trying to live by values we share. Am I presumptuous to think you live by some version of do unto others as you would have them do unto you, live and let live, and leave it better than you found it? That’s all I’m doing. I suggest you’ll prefer living by them than enduring the mental gymnastics of claiming you’re living how you aren’t.

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