Environmentalism is an all-consuming ideology. It postulates that a) the Earth is in danger and b) to save the Earth all of us (save Al Gore whose priestly status absolves him from acts of sacrifice) need to dramatically reduce our “footprint”. No aspect of our lives is too small because a) the planetary emergency and b) think globally, act locally because changes made by the masses on the personal level will affect the shared planet. Act microlocally, I’d say, because true believers are to continuously alter mundane, inconsequential routines. In reality it doesn’t matter, for instance, if one prefers plastic or paper grocery bags; in fact, plastic was encouraged 20 years ago, but today the same plastic bags are banned in California.
Young children are hugely susceptible to environmentalist propaganda, not because they understand ecology, but because it’s easy to coerce them into politically correct routines. Ask an unindoctrinated adult to recycle, and he’ll demand a proof that it’s a legit exercise, but children like rules, routines and they like to sort. They learn by doing; to them separating garbage is a game. Reward them with a sticker of smiling Gaia (wait, is that conspicuous consumption?) and they’ll squeal with excitement. They are conformists, too, so count on them to bully each other into compliance. As time goes by, layer on propaganda.
On-the-fence parents can be approached through kids. As students are taught environmentalist routines, they quickly begin to insist on implementing them at home. Schools act as if the habits they import on pupils are grounded in universally accepted truths, but they merely reflect the opinions of educators. Our family only recycles in as much as the behavior is mandated by the local government through manipulating the size and price of the garbage bins. I’d rather have school focus on teaching basic good manners than recycling. If our local schools accommodate (and celebrate) lesbian parenting, surely they can accommodate families with diverse traditions of garbage disposal. But they don’t. Our kids are a bit suspicious when I teach them something other than the received truths of public education, but they’ll come around. This is nothing compare to how I grew up.
So que in Darleen Click’s post about a San Francisco mom and her uberannoying teenage son:
I can do nothing right in my teenage son’s eyes. He grills me about the distance traveled of each piece of fruit and every vegetable I purchase. He interrogates me about the provenance of all the meat, poultry, and fish I serve. He questions my every move—from how I choose a car (why not electric?) and a couch (why synthetic fill?) to how I tend the garden (why waste water on flowers?)—an unremitting interrogation of my impact on our desecrated environment. While other parents hide alcohol and pharmaceuticals from their teens, I hide plastic containers and paper towels.
And so on. Why do I feel like I know these two?
Click makes an excellent point about the boy’s upbringing:
Where is dad? Or grandpa?
Where was the required influence of an adult man who would have pulled this little asswipe aside and told him to knock-off the totalitarian nonsense or get knocked into next week — “Don’t ever, ever let me catch you treating your mom this way again.”
No, really, where is the dad? Did he entrust the boy’s moral education to school in which the boy get a big chunk of enviro-garbage that fills his head? And why do the parents assume that they can control their son’s environmentalist fervor to the extent that it fits with the habits of their household?
In mom’s view the son is merely a puritan — basically on the right track, only his zeal is taking him a bit too far. But in reality, she is a hypocrite because if she believes that there is a planetary emergency then no aspect of her lifestyle should remain unchanged in an effort to reduce her impact on the Earth. She is the one who taught her son to “care a whole awful lot”, and yet she also insists on eating the polluting beef. The two cannot be logically reconciled. Environmentalism has no measure.
I can’t say I’m not concerned about the Earth, but the way I’m concerned about the Earth, I’m concerned about the Iranian nukes. Or the 3rd world migrants flooding into the 1st world countries, many of them nuclear powers — not hard to think up the scenario in which Islamo-savages gain control of the French or the British nukes. But whether or not my paper plates are recyclable, compostable or reusable? Please, I’m just going to toss them.
And for the kids I have the following question: If grown ups, politicians especially, insist that you make environmental considerations central to your lifestyle, but they themselves don’t seem to act as if the planet is on an irreversible path to extinction, why do they insist that you spend time of your life thinking about the minutia? Could it be because they don’t want you to spend your time thinking about something else?