Working in the environmental sustainability field, it is easy to be overwhelmed by all the information that we collect. In a lot of cases it means looking at dismal statistics of climate change and mass extinction, a political economy that is grossly skewed towards the rich and powerful, and beautifully crafted policies being trashed because of shitty implementation.
I’d say that my enjoyment of life has been affected somewhat.
I see oil palm plantations (in the place of rainforests) as I travel on highways, and rubbish strewn everywhere when I go to the beach or waterfalls. In the supermarket I see a proliferation of plastic being used and ads that promote values I don’t agree with. There is an endless stream of cars circling the parking lots, burning fossil fuels even when they’re supposed to have reached their destination. I look at beautiful landscapes and imagine a wasteland in a decade’s time. The environment has not changed, my lenses have.
While I perceive a huge truck with all humankind trundling merrily towards a Cliff of Death, people are too busy looking out at the landscape where Miley Cyrus twerks from afar. Racist and religious bigots are fighting like kindergarten children, their insults incensing people in the truck. Corrupt individuals and organizations run off to the sunset, some more visibly than others.
The mirage of prosperity shimmers – promising us an oasis of pretty, sparkly new things, while masking the tough times we’re in. We do love ourselves some false security, don’t we. All the time when the US is breaking the Internet (and also their own government), the richest 300 people in the world own as much as the poorest 3 billion, and extreme weather events are wreaking havoc all over the world. Oh let’s look at Miley Cyrus’s butt, or the lack of it!
I have recently realized that in a span of less than a year, my worldview has become completely jaded. My faith in humankind has dropped to a record low. Human stupidity, as we’ve heard, is infinite. As I settle down in KL, the city that spits on its pedestrians, my morale plummets to the same level as my mobility. The alienation from the general population is felt every time someone smirks that I don’t drive (“because she’s an environmentalist” wink nudge), as if it’s some sort of endearing eccentricity.
I’m trying to do the right thing, motherfuckers. Saving your future generations, motherfuckers. But yet, I fully see their point. In absolute terms, what difference are we talking about? Possibly nothing. So then I think, maybe they were right after all. Maybe that smirk was justified. And that, is what hurts the most. That they were right after all.
I believe thoroughly in what I do, but the belief that drives me is also the belief that is driving me crazy. “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” is a Gramsci quote that my boss is fond of quoting. Maybe someday I’ll get there. Perhaps there is light beyond this endless rage and anxiety. But for the time being, violent tendencies to kick things around and yell at people have to be subdued.