The Water's Fine, Thanks!

Monday, January 06, 2020

Image by Michal Balog, via Unsplash, license.
I attribute the title quote to a frog in a pot coming to boil.

There is an etiquette rule -- both widely misunderstood and abused -- against discussing politics at inappropriate times. As strong as my political opinions are, chalk me up as grateful for it: It saves needless time and stress, particularly around family gatherings during the holidays. I want my kids to enjoy time with their cousins, for example, but that doesn't depend one way or the other on whether the parents agree about politics.

That said, I still found myself having to push back on political issues, if only because I felt like I was being put on the spot or wanted my children to at least be aware that there are other points of view. Maybe I did okay: I think we all had a good time, anyway.

But the visit has me concerned...

When environmentalist totalitarians like Greta Thunberg say things like this, they mean it:
This is what it's all about, this is all that we are saying. But I will also tell you this: You cannot solve the crisis without treating it as a crisis, without seeing the full picture. You cannot leave the responsibility to individuals, politicians, the market or other parts of the world to take. This has to include everything and everyone. [bold added]
My in-laws strike me as fairly typical Californians in that they buy into lots of the things preached by Thunberg. I found myself having to push back against recycling after my brother-in-law thundered, "Reduce, reuse, recycle," enough times and tried to pressure me into participating. (He also repeatedly expressed a dislike for "politics." This is not to beat him up: Read on.) After an innocuous joke about coal in a stocking, I found myself listening to a mini-sermon about coal in front of my own children, so I slipped in that it's a reliable form of energy. My brother-in-law loudly calls an ingredient in my son's favorite drink "poison," within earshot of my kids, I have to say something.

Or at least it seemed so at the time: Split-second calls are the toughest part of being a parent, and there is no way to anticipate what will come up next or become completely comfortable making them. I'll credit my in-laws for not reacting badly to any of this and for attempting to practice what they believe, and leave it at that.

But back to Thunberg and her allies. It is alarming to know that the small part of environmentalism that many people already buy into is both (apparently) not even regarded as politics and has so much penetrance into the culture. I would not classify my in-laws as totalitarians -- despite one of them expressing a desire to ban single-use plastics -- but it was shocking to me just how many times what was actually politics came up, apparently under everyone's radar but my own and possibly my wife's. And I'm more willing than most people to push back right then and there, even on things most people might regard as common sense, like recycling. (I limit myself to short comments that show I don't agree. I'm not there to discuss politics, either.)

Our culture tolerates a very disturbing degree of social pressure and political control over individual lives, and, ironically, the people with the least desire to think about politics all the time are the ones not noticing -- even as they help the greens turn every damned thing into a politcal matter.

-- CAV

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