For almost eight years, I have been dedicated to trying to help myself and others live a more ecological life. Yet, in my quest to be and do better I have found that, in some cases, the people that already on the road to green are the most critical.
On more than one occasion I have been scolded because of a tip I provided or an article or story I covered. On two occasions the comments have been really nasty.
This generation of armchair critics empowers people to rip into one another due to the anonymity of the internet and when you're a journalist, you put yourself out there. I know that. However, I am transparent in my opinions and always cover both sides of the story.
On one occasion after posting a blog on green Christmas ideas, I was called out on Twitter and asked if my guide was peer reviewed. Seriously? I thought. Obviously a green guide like this one does not have to be peer reviewed. However, I did research all the products I featured to make sure they were either local and or fair trade with little to no packaging. After engaging in a back and forth with the tweeter I decided enough was enough and stopped. That resulted in him writing a scathing blog about me and my work. I was astounded at how nasty this blog was and wondered how anyone who calls themselves "deeply green" could treat a fellow "greenie" in such a way.
At the core of being green, for me anyway, is compassion for oneself and others. It's really at the heart of the movement, isn't it?
I realize his intention was to engage in a debate, however, his mean words only created suffering for both him and me. It drew conflict and did not draw generosity and compassion. Critique is good, if it comes from an honest place. Being critical of someone whilst being mean shows fault in the one being critical.
If two people are championing the same cause, being mean or critical only detracts from both people.
This of it like this, in an improv class you are taught not to say "no" to one another in a skit. "No" stops the movement or flow of the skit whereas "yes" creates further production and spawns more dialog.
If you disagree or feel the need to be critical of someone, why not start with "yes and"..., instead of "no". You'd be surprised how different the outcome would be.
More recently, I wrote an article that included a series of tips on how to green you bathroom. I got a very nasty email from a women who called my tips "flaky" and "stupid". I emailed her and thanked her for her comments. She wrote back and boy did she let me have it. In this situation, I had two choices, to engage and become defensive or be generous and compassionate to her. I chose the latter. I thanked her again for your comments and let her know, that like her, I too am dedicated to helping people. I told her I was doing my very best. I never heard back from her.
I have learned over the past eight years that it's really tough to get people to transition to a more sustainable life. You can't preach to people and you certainly can't make them feel guilty for not doing it. All I or you can do is provide people with tips and tricks and hope that one of them sticks.
The truth is, people are going to buy Christmas gifts, so why not give them better alternatives?
I write and cover stories on going green for the unconverted, not the converted.
The Buddha noted, "Look not at the deeds of others, nor at what they do or leave undone, but only your own deeds and deeds unachieved."
Words I try to live by, everyday.