To Be Effective, Environmentalism Can Not Be a "Lifestyle Choice"


Image credit: Salim Virji, used under Creative Commons license.
"If the selfish can do good as well, then what meaning is there to the struggles of the selfless?"

When I wrote that even Anthony Bourdain's believes we should eat less meat, commenter Chibinium argued that it was a welcome case of practicality and self-interest taking precedence over virtue. It was just one more reminder that environmentalism cannot, and must not, be seen as a "lifestyle choice" if we're going to meet the challenges we face. Does Self-Identification Mean Exclusion?
While many of us self identify as TreeHuggers, environmentalists, activists or whatever, we must be careful about letting that label define us. Sure, in these globalized times it is understandable that humans gravitate toward other humans with similar ethics, values and interests—and as such we build our own set of cultural cues, shared traditions and tastes. In many ways, these things can help bring a group of people closer together and define what it is they really stand for. But they can do so at the expense of exclude those around them. In fact, that exclusion can become part of what defines the original group. More from Chibinium's original comment:

"It's an understandable insecurity, one that many groups share. We show our principles through impractical choices, after all. If a choice becomes practical, then how can you be undeniably principled over it? In the end, however, it's not about them. It's about us. Time for us to show our principles as well."

Everyone Has a Subculture
I'm not arguing we shouldn't express our ethics, virtues or our cultural tendencies. Heck, I am one of the infamous bearded TreeHuggers that commenter Lisa felt would not be taken seriously due to my carefully chosen vintage clothing.

Self Awareness Matters
But we should be self-aware about how our cultural tendencies are perceived by the outside world, and we should be careful to make sure that everyone feels invited to the party—no matter what their age, race or gender and/or or facial hair, political or musical tendencies may be. As I said in my post on whether environmentalism is a movement or an ethic—everybody is an environmentalist whether they realize it or not. Just some of us choose to look like one.

More on Environmentalism, Strategy and Communication
Environmentalism: Movement, Philosophy, Ethic or What?
Environmentalists Need Strategy. Saul Alinsky and the Green Movement
Disasterbation Turns You Blind

Tags: Activism | Communities | Ethical

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK