Monday, September 11, 2017

This is Not "Me"

Someone I know once casually reminded everyone to make sure they recycle the paper she was handing us when we were done.  I casually let her know that, although I'm always careful to recycle plastic, glass, and aluminum, I believe recycling paper is actually bad for the environment.

Now I've heard her talk about recycling quite a few times.  She must really care about the environment.  Right?  I expected her to be grateful for a chance to learn more about being a good steward of the earth.  Or maybe she would disagree, and provide her reasoning as to why she believed recycling paper was good for the environment.  What I got was silent anger, then a quick subject change.

I was confused.  I didn't know what to say.  That's when another acquaintance of us both spoke up.  "Really?  How can that be?" he asked.  I was so revealed.  He had gifted me this chance to explain my reasoning, and she would realized that this mysterious anger was misplaced.

I briefly explained about the extra fossil fuels and chemicals spent on collecting and processing used paper as compared to fresh wood pulp.  I also explained how wood pulp comes from tree farms, and used paper is biodegradable.  I looked over at her and saw... more silent anger, somehow burning even hotter than before.  Then another quick subject change.

This was about 10 years ago.  Since then I've leaned that I'm the weird one.  Almost every person I know takes ideas, and inserts them into their image of "me."  This woman didn't care about the earth.  She chose to include recycling in her self image, and was offended when I insulted her.  Others chose political or sociological ideas.  Then there is, of course, religion.

You are not your country.  You are not your political party, feminism, recycling, or your religion.  And I shouldn't have to be a jerk for questing an idea, any idea.  People should be respected, not ideas.  All ideas should be criticized.  The more you love your idea, the more you should welcome its criticism.  Be proud when your ideas stand up to scrutiny, and grateful to find out if it doesn't.

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