Leadership and the Environment

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384: They would rather switch than fight

Ep. 384

Here are my notes that I read from for this episode:

  • Play Thomas N. Todd recording
  • Repeat it, explaining from ad campaign
  • Context was civil rights---that is equal rights for blacks as for whites in the US. I don't know context but I think pointing out that blacks who could fight best---educated, could speak to whites best---instead of helping other blacks would rather be white and not fight for equality
  • I'm going to approach this concept from three directions applying it to sustainability and stewardship.
  • I've spoken to a lot of people about sustainability and led many through my podcast's 4-step process and have seen them from many backgrounds, levels of awareness, levels of greenness, how much they say people should act.
  • I'm going to share an observation. Personal and casual, not rigorous, so I don't know what biases might influence it, but seems to me that those presenting themselves as the most green and aware don't act. They decline to do the process. If they do it, they don't come up with an activity.
  • They often claim they're doing so much already.
  • They often talk about it moralistically, like they don't want to act like a paragon of virtue or they're already virtuous enough.
  • I don't think they realize they're implying they don't want to do it, that it's hard, that you should against resistance, that they really want to do other things but they have to.
  • I never got so moral about it. I mean, stewardship felt right for me, but I presume everybody does what they consider right all the time. I'm not trying to impose my values on others. I'm trying to help others live by theirs.
  • My main point is that acting in stewardship turns out more fun, easy, rewarding, inexpensive, joyful, connecting to family and community, and so on than our mainstream society implies. Much more, but only experience seems to lead people to understand and live.
  • All these people preaching virtue but not acting set the actual changing of behavior backward. They lead people to want not to act by their word and deed.
  • Actually, there's another group that consistently doesn't act---leadership writers and gurus. Consider Beth Comstock, a leader. She went for avoiding plastic. She failed. Instead of trying to hide it, she shared her experience. She allowed her vulnerability to show. I learned from her. Several leadership people declined to do the exercise, told me how much they are already doing, or told me they're already doing the most they can. These are well-off Americans, among the most polluting in all of human history, claiming they're paragons of virtue.
  • So I'll approach not acting despite thinking you're helping from another standpoint, MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail.
  • "over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
  • I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality."
  • I feel like MLK faced similar struggles. Moderates who said they agreed with him actually slowed him down.
  • Michael Moss talking about trying to lower screen time for his challenge put it clearly and concisely. When he noticed himself justifying using his phone more, he said "Maybe that was the addiction talking." We like comfort and convenience. We like doing what we're used to, what we know will give us reward when and how we expect. Changing that pattern risks losing the reward we expect, leading us to justify our urge, our craving to resist change.
  • That's the addiction talking.
  • Finally the third approach to people who could lead people to stewardship but in practice lead them to resist changing comes from a peer-reviewed study entitled, "Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably: Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study"
  • "we found that climate change skeptics were generally more likely to report pro-environmental behavior than their high-belief peers, but
  • that higher belief reliably predicted support for federal climate change policies"
  • I interpret it to say that people who believe more want others to change or authority to force change, but they don't change themselves.


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Ep. 396
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