Human egos tend to primarily notice two things: what is most in alignment with what we already believe, or what is most contradictory to our beliefs. So even though a person loves and generally respects nature, it is assumed —by those not in alignment with him— that he does cannot love or respect nature because he works as, for example, a logger who is standing up for the jobs that he and his friends have to provide all of us with wood, and food for their families.
His response to opposition is passionate because those arguing against his existence are 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 or of what the world is often literally made of.
Clearly though, those that are opposing him aren’t all crazy or dumb because that side also includes all kinds of individuals who are as intelligent, functional, and successful in both business and economics and who do know that a lot of what we use comes from wood.
Those against him simply place a greater value on the environment than on the other benefits, just as the logger sees more value in the products and the jobs. Neither is completely right or wrong, all of those things really are valuable.
The loggers care about their families and their friend’s families. Caring is clearly a good 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, so that’s clearly 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 activist actions personally gain them nothing. And it’s hard to say someone’s selfish when they’re worried about the welfare of their family.
In the end, both of these groups are in effect, expressing love. The only difference is, what values do they place on which things? And even those individual values would be fluctuating within each person because everyone’s experiences are constantly changing them.
With all of that movement and unpredictability, we cannot really say the two groups are fighting. This example represents one of the many dilemmas people face. We may want wind turbines, but then we need to mine for the copper, steel and concrete that will construct one.
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.
The world is getting polarized. People have begun to think the world is an either-or scenario where we’re all supposed to take a view, join a side, and then defeat the ‘other’ side. But that’s ridiculous and impossible. We do need to save trees, but we also use them for many important and valuable things and people do need jobs. The problem is our thinking that life is an either-or situation.
We should all work to better realize in real time that our views are just as ephemeral as everyone else’s. In general, we should 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. We have to presume that there is value in what is being said by others.
Let’s all work to stop calling people good or bad, or right and wrong. Let’s keep listening, and stop dismissing things based on whether or not others agree with what we already believe. We should all remember that there is wisdom in everyone. and that if we want the benefit of that wisdom in this world, we have to be prepared to make room for it. 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 over-thinking, 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 still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.