Human Nature: Are We Really As Bad As We Say?
I often find myself wondering if the global crises are really as bad as we think they are. Realistically, how am I as an individual to know the full scope of the problem having not traveled to every country and having not seen with my own eyes what the reality is across the globe?
I have faith in human beings that we won’t in entirety let our Earth get to the point of gigantic devastated slums of waste and drought-ridden, derelict neighborhoods. I have faith in the unwavering human ability to solve problems, to innovate, and to continue to learn from our mistakes all for the sake of preserving and protecting future generations.
The reason I have faith is because I know we’re not alone. I know there are others out there like Tara, myself, and readers of PowerHouse Growers who care enough to make the necessary shifts. I see it in organizations like the WorldGBC, EcoDistricts, and the countless community-based non-profits in every major city in North America. We’ve read about it in The Big Pivot and are brought a sense of ease knowing that big business is making major shifts in accountability both environmentally and economically.
But I do believe we need to stop justifying to ourselves the principle of “off-setting”: knowingly doing something damaging to the planet yet pushing aside guilt because we took back the recycling yesterday. The idea that doing something good makes up for doing something bad is a way of living that I’ve never related to. I don’t mean this to be sanctimonious. I believe it could be naivety on my part. I’ve just somehow always felt it was my responsibility to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
If the global crises turn out to be not as bad as we currently think, does that mean I will stop eating local food, start running the water when I’m brushing my teeth, and begin leaving all the lights on in my house when I go out? Or to put it more frankly, does this mean I’m in the clear? To me it likely means the opposite. It means that I’ll continue to improve my daily mindfulness of doing better by our planet, and having meaningful conversations with others about the value that nature infuses into our lives. Quite simply, to me it would mean that what we’re doing is working.
I don’t judge others for using the “off-setting” justification. I believe it to be human nature and that’s something we shouldn’t waste any time pointing fingers at. As I stated in a previous editorial about my views on the climate change conversation, everyone in this field had their ah-ha moment. There was a line between not caring and caring that was drawn in the timeline of our lives. It marked a turning point in our values and ideals and the commitment to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
To me, even if there were no climate change, food scarcity, water shortage, and prolific energy consumption, it still does not give us the right to continue existing as we have up until now. Though hindsight is 20/20, it’s also a beautiful mechanism for us to look clearly at what our future may hold. In this sense we can also afford to be selfish; it’s not always just about being a do-gooder. It’s about your health, the health of your children, and the stability you feel in your community. Protecting our health and prosperity should be our priority. And that to me is what human nature really is.