So, suburban commuters aren’t psychopaths, but we should question people who through action or inaction choose not to be more sustainable and ignore ways that could improve the way they live.
What about people who have an outright distain for people who are taking steps to live a smarter more sustainable lifestyle. What’s going on there? What’s the source of that animosity?
There are a couple popular arguments. One is that sustainability is a job-killer and anti-business. This is sounding more and more ridiculous as time goes on, but there are still many people who believe that regulation and oversight to curb practices that have longterm negative economic, environmental, and sociological effects on the community or planet are a danger to business. Instead this group of people is focused on short term financial returns. It’s the fiscal quarter phenomena. These folks want whatever will make the stock go up over the next quarter. It’s not “damn the consequences,”because consequences beyond the next quarter are not even on the radar. This, of course, is a serious philosophical problem, and one that is difficult to overcome.
Another popular argument against sustainability is reflected in that famous quote by Dick Cheney: “The American way of life is non-negotiable.”
See, that’s just brilliant rhetoric right there. I mean, how can you argue with that without sounding anti-American?
If you truly love America, you love it not just for today, but for tomorrow, too. If someone isn’t willing to reevaluate certain behavior and practices that are clearly detrimental to one’s own existence and that of his community, that’s a problem. And putting a flag on it ain’t gonna cure it. Destructive behavior is not sacrosanct. Nor is economic devastation and social injustice. Just because some Americans may be following that model, does not mean it’s the American way of life. Dick Cheney does not get to write that definition.
But political rhetoric aside, there’s something else that I believe drives this ire against people trying to live and promote a healthier, more considerate way of life, and it’s sort of related to that American way of life nonsense. People sometimes perceive that they are being attacked when confronted by something that is different from the way they do things. It scares them and that makes them angry because they’ve worked hard to isolate themselves from change and that isolation has in return lowered their tolerance for different things.
One place we see this anger acted out repeatedly is against bicyclists, which will investigate a little tomorrow.