Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Mostest Liberal Ever

And this is why the ‘left’ continues to devour itself at the expense of its precious agendas. I get more and more tired of supposed ‘liberals’ every day. This morning while lounging on the couch enjoying a warm cup of coffee and the brisk 46 degree morning I cruised some of my favorite blogs and sites on the internet. My default windows open to Google and MSN, and while I generally don’t spend much time on MSN an article about ‘Giving up Cable’ caught my eye so I gave it a read. You can read it for yourself here. It talks about the savings one can potentially experience by cutting out cable and perhaps TV altogether. As one who’s also pulled the plug on cable TV, and thanks to the digital conversion don’t have functioning network and local TV, I enjoyed commiserating with people of likeminded principles. And then I read the comments…I really need to stop doing this.  Most of the comments were all very supportive of the concept; testimonials of folks who’ve made similar decisions and have been pleased with the results. And then there was the troll.

“…I know it is "trendy" to say you have given up tv, but please, don't watch movies from the library or netflix and tell me you have "given up tv". You have failed to reach the "gucci plateau" folks.”

I’m generally pretty tolerant of people’s opinions and whatnot, but I’m getting a bit fed up with this type of judgment and admonishing of people for not being ‘idealized’ enough in accordance with some holier-than-thou, self-aggrandizing standard.

I attribute this type of behavior to the ‘left’ based on personal experience, however I’m sure it permeates both ends of the political spectrum. I remember going to a CSU Extension presentation on small acreage management, where the extension office brought in a variety of resources to talk about alternative energy, bee keeping, pest management and noxious weeds. There were donuts and handouts and it was generally pretty informative and innocuous. And then there was the ‘super liberal’ in the back. HE just bought 90+ acres in eastern Colorado. HE was going to turn the land into an organic farm. HE was going to eat all of his weeds for the Vitamin C. HE was going to fight big agriculture. HE thought it prudent to point out the shortcomings of every extension presentation and their collusion in every large scale agricultural crime against humanity and nature since the dawn of time. I couldn’t stand the guy and as he droned on with this incessant inquisition the audience grew audibly more uncomfortable. And these types seem to be everywhere, whipping out their ‘liberalism’ to measure it up against the next guy or gal. “You eat organic vegetables? I grow organic vegetables.” “You grow organic vegetables? I AM an organic vegetable….”--etc.

I’ve seen this behavior prevalently with the environmental movement. Here the extremes are palpably visible fighting between more moderate groups like the Sierra Club and even Al Gore and the more activist centered organizations like Greenpeace and EarthFirst! Its almost a hobby to deride Al Gore for his hypocrisy of millions of dollars and flying around presenting “Inconvenient Truth.“ Indeed think of all the greenhouse gases he produced jet setting to China and back…not to mention the fact that he probably educated more people world-wide on the grim realities of our current climatic conditions than oh…just about anyone. The idealists are right though, he should be shot, or at least be drummed out of the ranks of the environmental movement.

But I’ve also seen Sweat Shop activists actually call each other out on their clothing labels and ridicule each other for the type of footwear they wore. I've heard the sermonizing of local food activitists and organic farmers, measuring the radius at which they get their food and disdaining those who only practice organic methods and not organic PERMACULTURAL ones. I’ve seen bicycle advocates engage in the game of one-ups-manship of how long they’ve gone without a car. “How long have YOU been a bike commuter?“ I hate that question for the condescending tone in which its generally asked. I’ve seen child advocates fight about the interests and well being of children who all the while languish in long term institutional settings. And now apparently it’s a sin to not have cable and get DVD’s from the library.

Person 1: “My family gave up cable a year ago to save money. We still watch the local news on the free TV and some of our DVD’s”
Person 2: “Oh yeah, well we gave up our TV’s altogether by selling them in a garage sale.”
Person 3: “Oh yeah! Well we burned all of our TV’s in the back yard while dancing around them naked and chanting.”
Super Exemplar Person 4: “OH YEAH! Well I’ve never even seen a TV--ever. And I moved to the Outback of central Australia where TV waves won’t even inadvertently penetrate my house.”

Since when did an extreme become the standard or ideal? Or for that matter, when did there become an ideal? It is not enough that everyone tries to do their part: take the bus, recycle their pop cans, buy CFL’s, eat local etc. Instead many on the left seem to perpetuate gross stereotypes by extolling the virtues of an aesthetic set of inapproachable extremes. These are the types who pick at Thoreau as being too urban and civilized for his living close to town and having regular visitors, or Gandhi for not doing enough to assist all levels of India’s diverse caste system; really, I mean REALLY!?! No wonder more moderate or conservative Americans reject many of the causes and values of the liberal agenda, despite that fact that your average American probably agrees with them. I bet you’d be hard pressed to find people that don’t believe that: we should use less energy, we should do more to protect endangered species, we could take better care of our water and air, we should be more attentive to the chemicals in our food. There are those who are oblivious and those who are not informed, and then there’s probably the majority; silently agreeable yet reluctant to be more vocal for fear of the judgment and derision of the extremes.

But the worst part is that this end fighting ultimately only leads to inaction or ineffectiveness. It becomes a distraction from the actual issue itself. The left seems to tear itself apart and implode, which shouldn’t be too surprising when you think about it. Rather than building a movement of diverse efforts along an entire spectrum of action, you’ve got factions. The extremes won’t associate with the moderates (because they’re not extreme enough--in fact they’re viewed to be part of the problem) and the moderates disassociate themselves from the extremes because they’re polarizing.

“Can’t we all just get along?” It seems somewhat of a trite sentiment, but perhaps there is still value to asking the question. What more could be accomplished with more understanding and support within these movements than jockeying and ‘yardsticking’ for the who’s who of exemplary activism. I suppose there will always be those who think more should be done, and find frustration at the sight of those who aren’t as impassioned or as angry as themselves. And yet no one can do it all. If we don’t acknowledge the efforts of all then we ultimately squander the efforts of both the large and small contributor: united we stand, divided we fall as someone once said. “Oh yeah, but I bet I can fall the most…” "Oh no, I'll fall the most...just watch."

1 comment:

  1. awesome...that's all i have to say about it...awesome. i keep thinking about your paper in high school "we go left"...or something to that affect, I don't remember the content, but for some reason, it's embedded in my memory. As soon as we decide to take our egos out of our politics, the world will be a much better place <3