I have considered myself a progressive person. Progressive in my faith, in my politics, and in my life. But today I am calling bullshit on myself. Myself and many others who consider themselves progressive.
The lie: I care about the environment.
The truth: I want to look like I care about the environment, and I want a clear conscience. I am eating my dinner using plastic utensils. I have thrown away at least a couple of pounds of paper today. I sat at lunch listening to the podcast that inspired this with my car running so I wouldn’t get cold. I typically waste dozens of gallons of clean water in the shower, in the toilet, using a dishwasher. I put very little thought into the environmental impact of the things I use.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t litter. I recycle whenever possible. I use led and cfl light bulbs. We reuse anything plastic we can. But we don’t seriously inconvenience ourselves to help the environment.
Lie #2: I love animals
Truth: I love my pets, cute animals at zoos, and animals on TV. I also love hamburgers, bacon, eggs, chicken, and dairy. I like to imagine my cheese comes from cows that lead a pampered life and are led in to be milked gently. And my eggs come from chickens that are able to roam freely on a large farm and freely give up their eggs. But the reality is most of the meat, poultry, and dairy we get comes from a great deal of animal abuse and suffering. And I’m willing to ignore it because I don’t have a connection to those animals and I really enjoy the food.
Lie #3: I care about the poor
Truth: I would like those who are poor to be better off, but not at my expense. I live in a nice house with heat and a/c. We have Internet, smartphones, HD televisions. We have a dishwasher and a refrigerator that gives you ice and water from the door. If I see a homeless person I may give them some money. We have donated food and items to shelters and my daughters have served food to the homeless. But we haven’t really given anything up.
Lie #4: I care about the poor children of the world
Truth: I want to feel good enough to ignore most of what happens around the world. We sponsor a child through Compassion International. We have also regularly participated in Operation Christmas Child, getting gifts for children in third world countries. But I buy clothing and shoes made in China, Vietnam, or Thailand knowing it is highly possible child labor was used to make them. I contribute to the cause of their suffering and poverty.
So what is the truth I take from this? Am I going to become Vegan tomorrow? Probably not. Will I buy a new wardrobe with only ethically sourced clothing? Not likely. Am I going to sell all my riches and give to the poor? Also not going to happen.
So I’ve just called bullshit, said how unethical I(we) really am, and resolved to do nothing. Actually, the first step towards a solution is acknowledging there is a problem. That’s where I start. That’s where we start. From there real dialogue can start which might lead to areas of real healing and change. Then a truly progressive heart is formed, and the change becomes natural.