I’m going to take a leap and talk about something that feels fairly vulnerable for me.
This topic has been ruminating for a long time in my brain, years even. It’s something that keeps coming up again and again; especially in conversations with some family members and friends during heated moments. I see it online all the time in debates on social media. It appears in organizations and often tears them apart when it cannot be reconciled within each person and within the group. And so, it’s something I feel is quite important to speak out about. With all that is happening in the world I feel that this topic is becoming more and more relevant with each passing day.
The toxicity of lacking
One of my greatest challenges as an introverted small business owner is to try to figure out ways of relating to my peers and clients, including opening up conversations with them that inspire, educate and create opportunity for change. Too often I see (and honestly, have fallen into) situations where these types of conversation turn into one of shame or destructive criticism. Each party simply devolves into pointing out each others’ flaws for the sake of proving that they aren’t as bad at the other, at the very least.
Truly, this behaviour is endemic in our society. The propaganda and marketing we are subjected to on a daily basis fuel this attitude. We learn shame as our primary mode of motivation to take action in our lives.
Aside from the outward conversations, internally there’s almost always been a heavy feeling in my soul; that I was never doing enough and no matter my efforts, I should always do more. Even when I accomplished something great, changed a behaviour, removed myself a little bit more from the capitalist state, for example. I pushed it aside as a minor thing, and firmly believed that I always could and needed to do better. This feeling was something that the negative aspects of my thought patterns loves to focus on when I’m feeling down, frustrated or out of sorts. While some of that may be related to my lived experience and my mental state because of it, I wasn’t so sure it was fully a result of that.
Some time passed…
One day I listened to an episode of For the Wild, which complimented well with an audio-book by Brene Brown called Rising Strong I was listening to at the same time. And slowly, it dawned on me…
I’m not a bad person. Rather, I’m doing the best I can with the tools that I have. I have to compromise and collaborate, or I will accomplish NOTHING.
We are all hypocrites. We are all flawed human beings doing the best we can with the system that we have been handed and are a part of. To do anything else or be outside of it would be a monumental individual and collective effort which has not come about as of yet. It would involve drastic, systemic changes that support decentralization of our society’s resources and administrations and moving forward into local, regenerative and sustainable systems of living.
To accentuate what I’m speaking of, here is the specific conversation from episode #123 of the For the Wild podcast that inspired my breakthrough on this topic:
Rob Greenfield: “Well, I would like to address that yes, I am delusional, because all humans are delusional, I believe. Now, my goal is to embrace my delusions and to work always to strive always to be a less delusional human being. That is one of my top goals. Also I’m a hypocrite.
I think that it’s almost impossible to care about the environment and to care about humans and to care about other species in 2019 and not be a hypocrite. I want to say near impossible, but really, I think impossible to do. Because the way that the system is set up, if you want to be a part of this system at all, just you and I speaking over the computer right now, then every day we have to be living out our hypocrisies.
If we want to make a difference in this world, that’s not a thing. If we want to make a difference in this world and live what we consider a sustainable life, we’re constantly going to have to be making sacrifices of what we can or will or will not do, but always that’s going to be hypocrisies that we deal with. So for me, it’s all about embracing my hypocrisies, acknowledging the reality of them, and then doing my best to reduce my hypocrisy and be transparent with them, and work to reduce what I can, but realize that I can’t get rid of all of it. That’s just a reality…..[section removed]
Ayana Young: It was so relieving at the beginning of your response to hear you say: yes I’m delusional; yes I’m a hypocrite; yes it’s almost impossible if not impossible to be in full right relationship in reciprocity all the time with the earth while also being a human living in the dominant culture.
And I feel relieved by that because it’s just nice to be able to call it what it is but still keep trying. We’re not striving for purity or perfection or something that may not be possible but that doesn’t mean we’re giving up and that doesn’t mean we’re giving in. We can still keep going and still call things out for what it is in the reality of the situation but that doesn’t mean we have to give up. And so I think that’s really important to to be able to speak to the transparency of situations like that. And not use it as a way to be a really extractive person, but just to be honest with each other.
To attack others for their shortcomings would in essence be a form of attacking myself. From what I’ve learned from many years of counselling, this is a common human trait. We see in others the flaws that exist within ourselves, and often that perspective is what causes conflict between individuals. That somewhat tangible taste of something that could change or be done better in others motivates us to action, while the intangibility and hard work that comes from changing ourselves is far less appealing.
The most important takeaway
Yet, just because I acknowledge this about myself and others does not excuse me (and anyone else) from constantly evaluating our ecological and sociopolitical impact on our landscape and community. It does not allow me to escape responsibility, while at the same time dismiss any effort or actions I may take.
As part of this awareness, I am forever compelled to do better by the natural systems that nurture and nourish me and I must always keep in mind the oppression that my actions could cause, even unintentionally. To ignore this would make me complicit in that oppression.
I would rather be an agent of creating equity, beneficial relationships and abundance.