What is it that makes the difference? When they read Dr. Seuss, “The Lorax”
as a child and gained an appreciation for nature? Perhaps, it was a vacation in a national park that forever changed a their relationship to the mountains and trees? An encounter with dolphins at sea, or the pure kindness of the family dog – anything could have the power to instill someone with compassion and empathy for all life’s equal footing in this world.
The diversity is astounding. There’s a spark of action and willingness inside everyone surely – but it’s not a crapshoot when trying to evoke someone’s listening to the environmental movement. Each time it works, even for those beautiful souls who stop, listen, and contribute from genuine and innocent curiosity and caring, there is some overarching character trait that enables them all – it’s always self-perception, more specifically the perception of self as more than “Me” and “I.”
If you want to know something, study its opposite. The people who yell at me, slander me, and accuse my non-profit of foul play and bad behavior, they are united by the absence of “we” language. Somehow, we are already enemies. It’s immediately “you” versus “me”, and there isn’t a moderator or negotiator I’ve encountered who can bridge that gap in the 10 seconds I have before they’re gone.
What utterly negative people don’t see is how close new possibilities are to them. It matters that many of the worldviews that reject environmentalism are constructed and perpetuated for their own ascendance. I cannot recall meeting someone who was both rude and completely authentic. Always I feel agendas beneath the surface; lifetimes and histories of socialization and identity building that has left some people as drones – emotional, rational drones who are fully autonomous, but with blinders.
Let me be clear; each person is a fresh experience. Trying to predict how each new person will be is neither fun nor effective. Creative indifference is necessary. It’s important to develop tough skin for my job; but without naiveté, passion, and faith in my cause, I would quickly fall into discouragement or anger. It takes strength to move on from another human being who already knows it’s not their problem. But it’s worth it. If you want to know something, study its opposite. I am here to open a path for others to act in ways that are focused and good for the planet. I am here to make your day better. I don’t mind your political opinions or your religious beliefs. I’m excited for what we can accomplish together. And I won’t bend. Each success makes the world a better place, and successes happen every day.
“No thank you, not today” you say? Well okay, “Have a nice day! We’ll keep fighting for you! Next time!”