Mar 26 2008
Today I went to a presentation by the author of The Better World Handbook which is all about ways that one can improve the world (environmentally, politically, socially) by simple actions, such as shopping locally and banking responsibly and so on.
It wasn’t a bad talk and it’s certainly not a bad set of principles to live by, and the book itself looked interesting and well put-together, but the whole thing had the slight sheen of liberal yuppie self-righteousness that I tend to find abhorrent in similar good-natured publications that tell you 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth! and so on. All you have to do, such books proclaim, is Recycle and the world will Be Better! I have always found this faintly ridiculous, but Northern California after all seems to have invented this particular strain of thinking, or at least it is endemic here, and every once in a while I feel my foreignness acutely and have flashbacks to driving a pickup truck everywhere and saying y’all and eating at drive-ins with gusto. You can take the girl out of the rural south but apparently you cannot take the hick out of the girl. Or something. At any rate, well-meaning yuppies make me uncomfortable.
I don’t think the author of the Better World Handbook was really like that; he was really a very well-spoken and sensible-seeming sociology professor, who had intelligent things to say about the power of quiet collective action (enough people recycling means that suddenly it is commonplace everywhere, or at least that the market for recycled aluminum is glutted, becomes cheaper, and so manufacturies start using it instead of new metal). But I am saying I have a certain bias against such simplistic guides to living a better life and building a better world, even though I am, in fact, one of those people that Shops Locally and Obsessively Recycles and is Mostly Vegetarian Most of the Time and so on.
These inner arguments must have stirred up my rebellious red-blooded Americanism, though, because now all I want to do is take a roadtrip — just for the sake and joy of driving — and eat fast food.
35 responses so far