An unfortunate stranglehold has taken place amongst the words and the emotions we have concerning capitalism and sustainability. Swarms of Wall Street capitalists turn into blood-feasting vampires wanting to profit off of people’s despair. Meanwhile ‘sustainability’ has become a catastrophic national and international power-grab for land, energy, and people’s choices of consumption. Capitalists are often looked at as evil and greedy people concerned only about their own wealth and well-being. Folks who use the word “sustainability” are often looked at as tree-hugging, wealth-distributing environmentalists concerned only about the legislation that attempts to force people’s actions.
More and more good Americans are finding themselves caught in the middle, caring about freedom to earn a comfortable living (making money) as well as about the environment (don’t we all like clean air and water?). We are okay with capitalism because it creates economic well-being and freedom. We would like to live in a healthy environment but do not want a federal or universal entity telling us how to make that happen.
I have often lamented about the dangers of categorizing people based off of labels (conservative, liberal, ‘the right’, ‘the left’, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, etc.). I watch copious amounts of emails every day, fly in and out of my inbox yelling at “the other side” for being “so atrocious, so wrong, so evil”. Do we really think this is doing us – THE PEOPLE – any good? NO – it is not. The more we fight with each other about the issues, the more power those with really dangerous plans for our liberty gain toward accomplishing their pernicious deeds. The people doing true harm to our country and our world want us to fight, they want us to label each other, and they want us to spend all the time in the world on organizing against the “other side” which we have so aptly labeled and categorized.
This must move beyond the “us versus them” mentality if we are to truly have any peace, prosperity, or liberty in our country. Benjamin Franklin said, “Do good to your friends to keep them, to your enemies to win them”. This is what we must do if we are to solve the problems we are facing. Just think about if we took 25% of the time we “complain” about the other side and instead use that time to do something positive and actionable.
For instance, be nice to someone who calls themselves a capitalist and ask them about how they spend their money or if they are interested in donating to any relevant and purposeful (and legit) foundations or causes – you may be surprised about how much of their money they “give away”, voluntarily, to others. For instance, be nice to someone who is involved with a sustainability fair or event and ask them about what they are trying to accomplish with their movement – you may be surprised to find out how much they really care about people’s health and that relationship to the health of the environment. All of this can be done voluntarily when free people act in their communities, doing well by doing good.
You see, there is nothing wrong with caring about money and there is nothing wrong with caring about the environment. We, as Americans, need to start at that point when we have discussions about capitalism and sustainability. HOW THESE TWO THINGS ARE CREATED, IMPLEMENTED, AND ACCOMPLISHED are what are important. And, if you talk to most people, they agree that they want more control over their money and wealth, and they agree that they like to keep decisions closer to ‘home’ or closer to their own community.
We will never all agree, and that is a beautiful thing – it makes us autonomous, sovereign, and free. What we must do is work together to find common ground and produce a strong and positive force that will be able to create a prosperous, peaceful, and free community.
- Tisha Casida & Jeff Hanson