I normally move in circles populated by people who are immersed in environmental issues professionally or at least have strong green leanings. So, when I encounter someone who is on the “other side,” I am often unprepared for how to talk to them.
Yesterday, I was talking to a colleague who I know is very conservative. We were talking about the type of work I will be doing in my new job, and she said, “You know, those environmentalists are so annoying. They are always telling us not to drive SUVs, to use one sheet of toilet paper, but then they are flying all over the world and have lots of money. Who are they to tell everyone else what to do?”
I have to admit to being totally disarmed by this. I could only reply that I’ve never been one to participate in rallies or demonstrations.
But I could have (should have?) worked harder to convince her that she should try to reduce her environmental impact, not just to please well-heeled tree-huggers, but because her future and her childrens’ future depends on it. That “the environment” is not some separate entity that we can choose to save or forsake – it is what sustains us (or won’t) depending on how we care for it.
It’s easy to preach to the choir. But it’s hard (at least for me) to figure out the right way to deal with the people walking past the house of worship without looking twice or only looking with scorn.