I attended a nice talk this morning that tried to answer the question "what is a sustainable community?" It and some other recent exchanges I've had reminded me that there are a lot of fears we have wrapped up in exploring that question. Sometimes those fears prevent us from exploring these ideas fully, or from considering new possibilities for our own lives.
So I thought I would start an inventory of some of those fears, and see what else you might have to add. By exploring our fears and understanding what they are, maybe we can find ways to help each other address them.
When we have conversations about living more sustainably, what are we afraid of? What makes us a little anxious, a little hesitant?
- Will I have to give up the things in life that I enjoy most?
- Can I still do the traveling and exploring that I want to do? Can I still enjoy the open road or take that trip overseas?
- Will I have to completely change the way I run my business?
- Are over-zealous tree-huggers going to try to tell me what I can and can't do with my life?
- Will I still be able to enjoy the foods I like? Will I be eating some miserable and bland diet? Don't they want me to give up meat because someone isn't brave enough to stand the thought of a dead cow?
- I want control over my land and my property, but aren't they trying to tell me what I can and can't do with it?
- Is someone else trying to tell me what's best for my children? Are they saying I'm a bad parent?
- I don't have the time or knowledge to grow my own food - how do they expect me to survive without groceries from *-Mart?
- I really like my car - do they want me to give it up?
- I've always wanted to have kids, but they're talking about controlling the population - yikes!
- There's not enough money in our budget for the kinds of changes they're talking about - who is going to pay for this?
- Environmentalism is such an issue for the political left - how can I explore it without being a traitor to my conservative, right-leaning affiliations?
- I'm worried that we are spending all of this time talking about recycling when there are more pressing issues to deal with!
- These sustainability ethics seem to clash with my own political/moral/religious world view - I need to defend it or my beliefs will be trampled.
- Our way of life is a great one. I'm worried that these people aren't patriotic and are trying to destroy what our country is all about.
- This blogger nut wants me to reflect on my fears, and I have better things to do.
- "Being misunderstood or even worse ostracized by friends and family who don't understand or agree." - from Becky in the comments
- "Do I have to live with (and trust) other people?" - from Jim in the comments
What else are we afraid of?
6 thoughts on “Our fears around sustainable living”
People may have their fears / preoccupations / hesitations about making steps to live sustainably, but I think the real question should be: "How can we take steps to get as CLOSE AS POSSIBLE to the sustainable ideal" rather than "I can't live 100% sustainably, so instead I'm going to continue to drive my SUV to Wal-Mart so I can buy Doritos and the latest Blue Collar Comedy Tour DVD"
There are many *little* things we can ALL do that help -- small changes in diet, consolidating trips into town, being aware of the amount of garbage we produce.
The PathToFreedom family out in California is a very idealized setup, but they also own almost an acre of land and live in a climate where it's sunny nearly the whole year.
Not everyone can afford solar panels, but we can all spend $5 to buy reusable grocery bags. We don't all have time to garden (although, would it kill you to try? 🙂 ) but we can spend 10 extra minutes to drive to one of the local farmer's markets to buy our produce (it's MUCH cheaper there anyways).
We Americans need to quit being such big babies -- we live very comfortably and we all need to accept that if we don't make some concessions now, we will have to make many concessions later. [End of chapter 1]
Thanks, Aaron. I appreciate your interest in exploring the question of "what can we do?" and I think it's an important question to answer.
Still, I'm not sure it's as simple as "quit being such big babies" when it comes to addressing the fears that people have about possible lifestyle changes. You may have made the connection that voluntary changes now can lead to fewer involuntary changes later, but there are many people who have not. There are a lot of ways to have that conversation and make those connections, but that doesn't make the fears we bring any less real.
So, maybe all of that is to say that I think your comment applies to a different conversation than the one I was trying to start with my original post. 🙂 Thanks for participating, though.
Further, to what extent are those fears justified?
Surely not every idea is worth exploring, and surely some fears of exploring certain ideas are justified.
hmmm Chris, you seem to have covered a majority of the fears I can think of in relation to sustainability. I do personally also struggle with the fear of being misunderstood or even worse ostracized by friends and family who don't understand or agree.
18: Do I have to live with (and trust) other people?
It's gonna be really hard to delve constructively into those fears - without first understanding (or acknowledging) our complex interdependence with the living world. But you know that...