I’m really bummed I haven’t been able to post more here in the past few months — more about that later, maybe, but for now, a few links:
First of all, check out the blogroll (on the right hand side of the blog — click over if you’re reading via RSS feeds!). I keep stumbling on new awesome vegan blogs but also even more excitingly, more blogs by vegans of color!
Secondly, a link I’ve had open in a browser tab for literally months: Self-Delusion and the Lie of Lifestyle Activism. This argues that the impact of individual changes such as building a compost pile or recycling are generally not enough to make a difference (& in the case of the widespread habit of recycling, can be counterproductive because of the emphasis on recycling as opposed to reducing waste). This is partly because, the post argues, modeling a behavior is not generally enough to get other people to adopt it. I read the full post months ago & didn’t wade through the plethora of comments, but I’m sure being vegan would be something that the author would put under that category as well. I don’t agree with everything — though there are some good points made there — but I think as vegans & vegan activists there is a lot to think about regardless.
Thirdly, I saw the other day that Battlestar Galactica‘s Grace Park is now shilling for PETA. Sigh.
Right, now my query. This is generally not an easy time of year for me, between the darkening of the days (& the declining temperature) & the holidays. I’m doing a lot of work just to keep myself on any kind of even keel, but one thing that often gets put on hold is, well, doing activist things or even feeling excited or inspired by the issues. It’s not as if I’m contemplating stopping being vegan — that is most definitely NOT the case — more just that I haven’t had the energy or inspiration to go trawling through all the vegan blogs & campaigns & stuff that I used to do.
What do you do when you find yourself in kind of a rut? I know for burnout taking a break is a good idea, but it’s not that I’m burnt out (well: not in terms of veganism, although I did have a huge disillusioning infuriating situation earlier this year [related to other issues] that has made me really pissed off with certain aspects of the activist crowd where I live). I’m just kind of… maintaining at the moment. I want to be inspired & invigorated again (note: shock tactics won’t do the trick, so no one suggest I watch Earthlings, please). Suggestions?
“modeling a behavior is not generally enough to get other people to adopt it”
Except when it comes to your kids 😀
I think there’s some truth to the article, but come on now, he chose the examples he chose for a reason: because they haven’t been adopted by society yet.
If he had said “litter” instead of “don’t recycle” or if he said “pour used motor oil down the drain” or “smoke cigarettes” you probably wouldn’t even think twice about the article, you’d toss out the ridiculousness for what it is, ridiculousness.
Behaving responsibly isn’t going to change the world on it’s own. And no, how we live isn’t “activism.” But that’s not an excuse to behave recklessly.
What fascinates me is when the author of the Self-Delusion article throws in sentences like “Lifestyle activism assumes that you have the resources to make lifestyle choices. … Lifestyle activism is an expression of privilege. It represents the capacity to spend time and resources doing things that don’t actually matter in any direct way for you or your family in service of your own identity construction. … If you work two jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over your head, you just don’t have time for this. ”
So how much time does it take to toss a plastic bottle in a recycle bin as opposed to the trash? How much time does it take to buy packaging with less plastic? Too complain to company about waste? To pick up a bottle or can off the street to drop in a recycle bin?
Anonymous, you’re assuming that the person in question actually lives in a place where this is possible — and the people working two jobs to keep food on the table or a roof over their heads are likely to live in impoverished areas where recycling facilities or choices in food packaging may not exist. In that case, it becomes not an issue of a recycling bin or a trash can sitting side by side, but driving (if a car is even an option!) to a recycling facility vs. throwing your trash out in your building. (And then there’s that whole nagging problem of plastic recycling actually being kind of a sham.) This is just one example in a list of myriad possibilities, but I’d appreciate if we could think beyond our own realities before decrying people as “lazy” or “unwilling” to make change.
Even in big cities, people are too lazy to do simple things because of many issues AND articles like the aforementioned which hint that its all pointless from an individual standpoint..so people think “Yeah why am I wasting my time or money” and they stop doing those actions.
BTW, when you say “plastic recyclying being a kind of sham”
Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.
So is preventing 2.5 million plastic bottles an hour going into landfill a sham?
Read the “Recycling Works!” section on the cleanair site.
I agree especially with your last sentence, but the article is telling people directly to do something *against* lifestyle activism. I understand the frustration with its limitations and the judgment that often goes along with it, but the conclusion of the article is immature: I don’t like this, so screw it all. Then why be an activist at all? I could make similar arguments for any type of activism. There are limitations and judgments associated with all types. So should I just because a ruthless, use all my privilege for myself type person? I don’t think that’s a helpful way to live, for anyone.
IF you have recycling available, why not just do it? Why explicitly do the opposite?
It may be an obvious suggestion, but when I’m burned out, I turn to pattrice jones’ Aftershock. It helps me feel less alone, less burned out, and also totally okay about both of those things. I also light candles and play board games that make my mind work, like chess and Risk. Despite the overarching themes of battle and domination in at least one of them, it helps shake up my brain a bit.
I am sorry about the darkness and the holidays. I could go on and on about the trauma that both add to my life as well, but I will instead say that I am sorry about this world and this difficult time of year.
Hi b — yeah, I’ve found so much valuable in Aftershock, maybe worth another look (though I was really uncomfortable w/the transphobic comments discussed here as well).
Shaking up the brain a bit sounds like a good idea!
I’m sorry that you’re having difficulties right now too.
Hooray, Johanna is blogging again!
I was just reading a similar article by Monibot today that makes an even more cautionary point.
Hee, thanks Adam!
That is really disturbing re: the ‘moral offset’ of buying green. Whoa!!
acupuncture, if you can find a good practitioner
(vegan, sliding scale, etc.) – to help with your mental/emotional state
as for frustration with activists, I don’t know, but if you think
of something please post it.
I’m having similar issues.
The idea of acupuncture makes me a bit nervous (I know it’s not needles like getting a vaccination or having a blood test, but still…), ack! Maybe I’ll look into it more though…
There is another post about this here (I dunno why the trackback didn’t come through).
Per the article “from the way i see it now. every little bit doesnt help. alot of the little bits get dispersed and fly away not really affecting anything.”
So the person who wrote this doesnt understand or want to believe in the cumulative effect of small actions?
also … “i looked at my grape fanta. and i waited for that inevitable moment of revulsion and shame to overtake me as i realized what horrors i was contributing to with my thirty cents.
but instead i thought. whatever. it doesnt make a difference.”
Does it appear at this moment, the author momentarily tossed aside their convictions for the convenience of a carbonated beverage?
while i certainly believe that it’s problematic for privileged folks to believe they are activists by being “educated consumers”, and nothing more, these two articles are nothing more than attempts to justify apathy toward real pressing issues in my opinion.
in relation to veganism, i think it’s problematic that the focus often gets shifted from seeking justice for nonhuman animals to having a mere lifestyle preference. we shouldn’t be constantly patting ourselves on the back for not exploiting animals. no, veganism is the bare minimum we can do to not participate in their oppression. i don’t think i’m a “lifestyle activist” for not raping or murdering someone. it’s simply what is “right” when it comes to not exploiting and oppressing others for my own pleasure or amusement.