Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why the Bastards Have an Edge

Or: How One Greedhead Can Ruin a Bunch of People's Day

People who care about the effect they have on the environment and other people, even people who haven't been born yet, are automatically more sensitive than callous pricks who want what they want as soon as they can possibly get it.

It is much harder to prevent a mistake than to make one. Prevention gets even harder when interested parties can't wait to profit in some way from the mistake, and the mistakenness of the mistake is not immediately obvious. Most people would rather avoid the frustration and lengthy argument needed to prevent the mistake, preferring to let it happen and try to clean up afterwards. One could even argue that trying to prevent a mistake is a vain attempt to play God, and that the mistake and its consequences are either a) the real God's grand plan for humanity, b) the tough breaks of impersonal evolutionary forces or c) God's grand evolutionary forces. In any case, we are fools to try to divert it, since human history is mostly a long list of mistakes anyway.

Generally when we did something right it was by accident. We were usually trying to do something shortsighted and greedy when it blew up in our faces and led to something beneficial. Or we'll do something that seems beneficial, like cure syphilis or develop a birth control pill, only to have a seismic convulsion of unintended consequences. Even reducing infant mortality means more kids survive to devour resources, crank out excrement and eventually need jobs and housing.

With only a fraction of this in mind, sensitive types organize themselves into groups trying to advance the causes of environmental and social justice. Since this no longer involves pulling together an army and hacking away on an actual field of battle, the conflicts go on much longer, and the two sides remain numerically fairly even. But one determined selfish person can send several sensitive types to their hiding places or their therapists simply by going after his destructive goal with the relentlessness of aggressive cancer.

If you want to protect a peaceful environment, rural quiet, and places where you can spend a lot of time renewing your spirit and revitalizing your body, you can easily get drawn into such endless work that you never get to do any of those things. And you could lose the battle in the bargain. Small wonder that depression runs rampant among environmentalists.

Some people believe we are in the last days of Earth. Yet many of these same people have children. That seems so wrong in so many ways. But this is what we're up against, trying to promote a lifestyle that will last for generations when many people producing those generations don't think we'll be here for one more. Add their numbers to the people who think we aren't doing any damage and the ones who think we are, but don't care. It's a formidable bloc of ignorance, greed, hypocrisy and superstition. Those are all fine hobbies, but give the rest of us a break.

We'll keep arguing over it, for no better reason than that we might prevail before it's too late.

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