Sunday, November 30, 2014

Julie Burchill on Green Guilt

You may have missed the roll out, but Julie Burchill has become an advice columnist. She is writing for something called Loaded magazine. Since it is published in Great Britain you need not, if you live elsewhere, feel embarrassed at never having heard of it.

If you haven’t read Julie Burchill, you are missing something. I am happy to help remedy the situation.

Anyway, some poor sod named Ted wrote to Agony Aunt Burchill. It was published in the October issue of the magazine, and thus its appearance here is slightly out of joint, season-wise:

Tod opined:

I can’t enjoy the summer because I’m afraid of global warming. What’s wrong with me?

Obviously, poor Ted was looking to get thrashed by JB.

If so, her response probably pleased him, in a special way:

Private Frazer in Dad’s Army used to get laughed at when he’d start muttering, “Doomed, doomed – we’re all doomed!” Amazingly, this now passes for informed political discourse among certain sections of conservationist ‘thinkers’ – and I use the term loosely there. I myself am not a conservationist – if it ain’t broke, break it! And I am sceptical about global warning. I do however have friends who are like you, and I find them boring beyond belief when they start up with their a-weepin’ and a-wailin’ over the fate of the poor polar bears – who, let’s face it, would take your arm off in a minute if they met you, no matter whether you have a monthly direct debit with Greenpeace or not. In such situations I’m inclined to say, “Yes, isn’t it shocking? Look – a rainbow!” Or just turn the car radio up really loud. They soon get the message.

Are you actually doing anything to make the world a better place, or are you happy to just sit around brooding over how bad things are, like a miser with money? If so, you may be what I call an ‘Amockalypsist’ or a ‘Why-oh- whiner’. The first gets a parasexual thrill from believing that he lives in the very worst of times; the second from moaning. What both have in common is that their lives are often quite dull, and utterly self-centred. Try volunteering. Your local church will be able to point you the right way, or just ask at any charity shop. If this doesn’t work, aim to stay home and inflict your buzz-kill attitude on cheerier folk. No one likes a moaner – unless they’re very hot, rich and famous. And there’s only one Lana Del Rey.

I am not sure what this all means, but the riff about polar bears is charming, to say the least.

Anyway, a dose of Burchill should cheer you up on even the dreariest Sunday morning. It will serve as the antidote to green guilt.


Dennis said...

But, isn't this true of almost every issue including race and gender? All we get is whining and moaning and the "sky is falling" rhetoric, but little in actually trying to do something constructive.
Life is about doing good and not about feeling good. Feeling good is what happens after action is taken to do good.

Ares Olympus said...

Perhaps Ted lives in the southern hemisphere, like Australia or New Zealand?

Certainly Ted's question is over-the-top, and he was asking to be called out. I always wonder if whiners want to be called out, or if they need a more empathetic response to a sincere question.

I think Stuart's Gratitude blog from a few days ago might be a kinder response, starting with blessings you experience and that connects us to what we really have to give and what giving offers joys that are no longer accessible from a consumer mentality.

And I really I can see Ted's problem is a spiritual one and his rationalization "because I’m afraid of global warming" is not not an honest one.

That is to say, if he couldn't worry about GW, he'd pick another, perhaps like 57 million aborted babies in the U.S. There's always something if you want to avoid personal responsibility in something much closer to home.

But whatever symbolic rage/fear/grief at something deeply and fundamentally wrong with the world, the only general solutions I found for large-scale 'amockalypsists' is
(1) Don't ever have kids for god sake!
(2) Don't ever get in debt!
At least they are sensible given our current world situation assuming you've not already fallen for those traps.

And after that follow Gandhi's advice "live simply, so that others might simply live", like this article that quotes it:

It also reminds me of Jesus's parable about the rich man.
In Matthew, a rich young man asks Jesus what actions bring eternal life. First Jesus advises the man to obey the commandments. When the man responds that he already observes them, and asks what else he can do, Jesus adds:

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

Assuming you can see "eternal life" as some sort of generic symbol rather than a literal understand, such advice is it challenges individualism that says joy can be found by keeping ourselves separate from the needs of others.

So even if you don't decide to give away everything that protects you from immediate security, the question demands you see your short term comfort and security as something that is negotiable for a greater purpose.

Oh, I also see you have to look at the "shadow side" of guilt - that is resentment. That is, after Ted has tried everything to live in a less self-centered way, he still finds resentment in giving, that's a sign something else is going on, if he requires everyone else to sacrifice in order to feel good about his own, then he's doing something wrong, or something else needs attention.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Guilt is what the entire movement is about. It seems that Tod is putting the rhetoric into practice, and finds himself... miserable. Think of that.

n.n said...

I think it's closer to 100 million aborted babies, in America, give or take a Del Rey and Frazer, since legalization and subsequent normalization of premeditated abortion. Oh, look, polar bears.

Dennis said...

For your edification;