Mandatory Guilt-Rationing During Green Message Humor Drought.
I’m vigilant with turning off lights. I keep the my car tires inflated. I know three people named Sierra. I avoid eating farm-raised salmon. I believe ceiling fan lobbyists are behind global warming. And I recycle more than I toss out. In a nut, I’m big with the eco-love.
Yet, despite my greenness I feel no more green than a Styrofoam cup floating in a West Virginia tailings pond under an air quality alert.
Guilt born not from lack of effort but from the scolding nature of the environmental message, which Flipping the Pig, a one-man band out of Detroit, perfectly articulates with You Should Always Feel Guilty:
Last night I read one of those “How to be Green” lists. Instead of enlightenment I felt guilt. The list should had been titled “New Ways on How to Feel Bad About Your Selfish Habits You Big Jerk.” Because I did not have a brick in the toilet tank or because culinary indecisiveness caused me to keep the refrigerator door open longer than six seconds I, or so the author implied, was the environmental equivalent of a domestic Haliburton with a size 26 wide carbon footprint.
Though the author’s intent was to educate, it hit like an admonishment. A haymaker muscled with holier-than-thou self-righteousness. Instead of winning me it lost me. Instead of turning off lights I was compelled to turn on lights and raise the thermostat 19 degrees out of spite.
This imbalance of self-righteousness is what, according to environmentally indifferent friends, stains the green message, tempering their environmental cooperation. Instead of helping, the message is hurting. It’s the The Monkey Wrench Gang in reverse.
The late David Brower, contemporary society’s John Muir, recognized this problem years ago when he’d joke, “What do environmentalists, the far-righteous, the right-to-lifers and bible all have in common – no humor.”
Replacing guilt with humor could help soften the green message. Make it more acceptable. Attract rather than detract. For proof watch the following the short that effectively uses humor as an educational device:
Had the video used the typical green-message-sledgehammer-approach of guilt and self-righteousness the message would had been lost.
All of which loops back to David Brower again. He crafted a list of rules for environmentalists to follow. And rule number 6 stated, “Never take yourself seriously.” And if you’re wondering what the other rules were that preceded and followed it, there weren’t any others. Never take yourself seriously, Brower, believed, is the only rule.
Sage advice for anyone with a message. Especially green advocates.