Monday, January 19, 2009

Frivolty is in the eye of the Beholder

Only the Necessities of Life

I have always found it sad and amusing at the same time that very few, if any, practice praxis. It seems that individual humans are endowed with an uncanny ability to ask others to abide by certain principles that they hold themselves to be exempt from. The sad thing about the above is that, more often than not, they do not realize the logical absurdity of their position.

These seminal contradictions are found across all fields and they span all regions. One of the most absurd positions is to be found among the practitioners of the new religion of environmentalism. Often the strongest advocates of the need to act in an ecofriendly way are the rich and the wealthy. They campaign for alternative clean energy, take a strong stand against industrial farming and demonstrate to prevent deforestation.

Each of the above is a noble goal in itself but the irony is that those who are the most vocal in their demands are often the largest abusers of what they want us to protect. Many of these advocates who favour a smaller footprint are the most extravagant consumers. They are more often than not the ones who take the ski trips to far away places, live in homes of over 5000 Sf, but with an expensive PV system on the roof, subscribe to every imaginable magazine and do their food shopping at WholeFoods.

The same phenomenon is to be observed among those who advocate high tariffs against imported goods. They are the jet set that drives the Benzes, Beemers in addition to the Lexuses and Infinitis. This is often the same crowd who is worried about the trade deficit and wants measures that would reduce the availability of Chinese made goods at Wal Mart as long as the availability of the $50,000.00 Patek Phillip watches , the $2,000.00 Gucci hand bags and the $500.00 Italian shoes is not reduced.

This disconnect between what we say that we want and what we do has become so widely spread as to not spare anyone. Infamous Judge Robert Bork [linked story] whose failed nomination to the Supreme Court preoccupied the nation for months has written, lectured and campaigned vigorously against frivolous suits brought up by individuals against corporations and other large institutions. What is unbelievable is that the same judge, Bork, slipped as he was leaving the dais at Yale University during one of his appearances and he promptly sued the University for negligence and for physical pain and psychological traumas. The same person who has campaigned tirelessly against frivolous law suits brought one himself asking for a million dollars in compensation. Ironically he denied, with a straight face, the contradiction when he was confronted with it.

I guess that frivolity is in the eye of the beholder.

10 comments:

frednyc said...

We live in a consumer society that measures how affluent you are by the amount of goods you posses, not by the services you can provide. Until this changes the role of the citizen will continue on the path of only satisfiying our immediate wants, leaving other peoples needs secondary or non existant. There is more to being green than using canvas shopping bags, seperating your plastics, and using a coffee mug. Your posh appt. on the upper west side overturns all your previously held notions that you were doing a good job.

Anonymous said...

I feel the issue is that we as the consumers have to dictate what our 'consumer society' is and how it functions, otherwise we'll forever be in the trap of that's the way it is. It's true that this is the way it is, but its not the way it has to be. Its like the CEO's of the Detroit auto companies caught flying to bail out meetings in their private jets as they claimed bankruptcy. My thing is, if someone could print that, with their faces and or names attached, why isn't anyone in power speaking out to let the people know its not okay and it won't be tolerated. Why are the jets themselves still an option? Who's really holding the cards here? Is the government/people who shape our ways of living saying to us that no matter what happens, the rich and upper class will always prevail, even if that means the rest of us "go green" and they don't? If we'll all be in the same degraded planet in the after math of global warming etc. won't the rich and upper class be there too? Or is there truly a secret society that has alternate land we don't know about? I think measures need to be taken seriously to yield ALL activity, because the situation is a lot more serious than anyone is telling us. People who have tangible power need to be out there speaking about the reality of where we are, the things we face, and what will happen in the next 10 years if we ALL don't change. As a young student I feel all I can do is continue to be proactive about green initiatives, spread the word and action, and influence the influences who influence the people who make the major moves. I hope the best for us all.

EMILY OTTOO from ENV 112 @ Pace

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