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Earth Day Motivations: Sincerety or Smugness? – Brian’s Blog

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Earth Day was first celebrated on this date back in 1970. Today, it’s being recognized all over the world. What’s at its core? A genuine concern for the well being of our planet, or a chance for someone to say  “I’m doing this, so I’m smarter and better than you?”

I remember the first Earth Day. The “cool” kids at my school painted flowers on the garbage cans around campus to beautify the place. After they did that, they all exhibited a smug superiority that they had done something important. As the years have gone by, I realize that the smugness wasn’t just an adolescent attitude that would be grown out of. Many adult environmentalists still show this attitude.

On Earth Day last year, I wrote about a former colleague that had purchased a Smart Car. Ostensibly, her motivation was to combat rising gas prices. But I maintain that she really just wanted to exhibit that smug superiority that I mentioned earlier, to show that she was smarter and better than the rest of us.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many committed, dedicated people that are truly concerned for our air, water, and ecosphere. My family recycles, tries not to waste energy, and thinks that littering is a deadly sin.

The church we attend has a very strong “green” contingent. They recently found funding to install some solar panels on a church building so that some day, our church can become energy self sufficient. Kudos to them. But at the same time, no one is in lock step agreement on how to be “green”.

Case in point. When our congregation has a potluck dinner, obviously there is table service to deal with. One group says “Don’t use paper plates and disposable utensils, that fills up the landfill.” They advocate doing things the old fashioned way, using real plates and silverware, and washing them. Another group says “No that takes too much energy, and it’s too expensive. Don’t do it that way.”

What to do? Now, everybody brings their own table service, and takes it home to wash, or dispose of. So now, the church isn’t filling up the landfill or wasting energy. The members are on their own.

That apparently is O.K.

Somehow that just confuses me. I don’t feel smug or superior at all.

Visit the Earth Day network website here.

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