Human egos tend to primarily notice two things: what is most in alignment with what they already believe, or what is most contradictory to their beliefs. So even though a guy loves and generally respects nature, it is assumed—by those not in alignment with him—that he does not love or respect nature because he works as a logger and he stands up for the jobs that he and his friends use to provide for their families.
His response to opposition is passionate because you’re talking about the welfare of his tribe—his family and his co-worker-friends and their families. His personal experience has exposed him to why those jobs are valuable and his intentions are thoroughly positive. And yet he will come into direct and strong conflict with other people whose intentions are equally positive.
From the logger’s perspective, the people who chain themselves to trees, or padlock themselves to logging equipment, or who block logging roads are seen by he and his sympathizers as crazy, or extreme, or lacking an understanding of business or economics. But obviously that clearly can’t be true because these people have included all kinds of individuals who are well-proven as intelligent, functional, and successful in both business and economics. These people simply place a greater value on the environment than on the economy and those individual jobs. Just like the logger, they want what is best.
Fair enough that it can be argued that the environmental group is more realistic because the economy only exists in our imaginations, whereas the natural world is where you actually live. If everyone died there would be signs and symbols of our belief in an economy (like physical dollar bills and stock market records), but without us to think it into existence there simply is no such thing as an economy. For example, no alien culture can land on earth and find the economy, but it can most certainly find the environment. But let’s not look at how these groups are different, let us look at how they are the same:
The loggers care about their families and their friend’s families. How can that be viewed as a bad thing? And the environmentalists are going to risk going to jail and having a record even though they don’t personally gain from their behaviour! It’s entirely generous, done not only for the rest of us, but for future generations as well. It’s hard to say someone’s selfish when their actions personally gain them nothing. And it’s hard to say someone’s selfish when they’re worried about the welfare of their family.
So both of these groups are in effect expressing love. The only difference is, what values do they place on which things? And even those values would be fluctuating within each person because everyone is always having their experiences change them. So with all of that movement and unpredictability, we cannot really say the two groups are fighting. Instead, some people are sometimes thinking incompatible realities into existence. There are no bad people in that statement. There is only a conflict of their ideas.
Do we have to answer some questions to move forward as a society? Obviously. But do we need to fight and battle and name-call and absolutely refuse to even attempt to see the wisdom in the other group’s views? Of course not. Rather than telling them our own views, we can ask them more about theirs. And in doing so we can come to respect that their view has a legitimate basis. So if environmentalists could promise jobs that the loggers liked better and paid more, then the loggers would agree that they may not need to cut those trees down. And likewise, if the loggers could prove to the environmentalists that they could spontaneously reproduce full grown trees, then there would be nothing lost for the environmentalists to save and they could relax too.
The world is getting polarized. People think you’re supposed to take a view, join a side, and then defeat the other side. That’s ridiculous and impossible. Instead try understanding that your views are just as ephemeral as everyone else’s, and then look for what works for the most people. We don’t need to win as individuals. We need to win as a collective. And to do that, we have to both be listening to each other, and we have to presume that there is value in what is being said by the others.
Stop calling people good or bad, or right and wrong. Stop listening or dismissing based on whether or not people agree with what you already believe. Know there is wisdom in everyone and that if we want the benefit of it in this world, we have to be prepared to make room for its existence. We have to listen.
Forget fighting. Stop looking for differences. Start with what you agree on and build from there. With an attitude like that, we can not only have wood to build our houses from, but we can also still have forests to build them in. And that’s what you call a win-win.
Have a nice day.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.