Priveledge, Desperation, and Gratitude

Empathy is a highly valued characteristic in the area of activism, both for those wishing to make a difference and the activist’s target audience. Lifting the veil between groups of individuals, or bringing the plight of other individuals to light can produce an astounding amount of change. However, the divulging of “world issues” is often approached in a careless or problematic manner.

Far too frequently, well-intentioned individuals undermine the experiences of one group of people with the experinces of another, or use the aforementioned experinces against a group of people. This creates a more hostile environment and is not a sufficient form of communication, as it readily fails to aid in the achievement of the intended goal. An example of this could be seen in the widely known method of attempting to get a child to eat all of their food by mentioning, to varying degrees of gravity, the starvation of children in other countries. This method is more akin to guilt-tripping, and often, the individual to mention the suffering, in this case, a parent or other guardian, does not seem to show a genuine concern for those they have mentioned.

As someone who is steadfast in their opposition to industrial civilization, I inevitably encounter a multitude of “how dare you reject these luxuries” lectures. One such lecture I recently received bothered me significantly in that its emphasis was on education and poverty.

I am by no means a person of great wealth, nor have I ever really been. I would not consider myself to be currently living in poverty, though I can say in uttermost honesty that I have known a life without extravagances. There has been an epoch of my life during which I had no refrigeration, have lived solely on fast-food, lacked running water and electricity, and was technically homeless for a time. It would be possible, perhaps easy, to portray this in an aggrandized manner, so that it may provide more depth to my words, and seemingly provide me with more experiences in suffering than that which I really have. Yet through all of these situations, my anxiety never stemmed from being unable to find my next meal (though I have gone periods of days without food), or having a roof over my head, or gaining access to water or electricity. No, my concerns then were as they are today: The overall welfare of our planet, and of life as a whole. 

Several of those who make up the lower-class consider environmentalism to be an aspect of upper-class life, or a concern beyond their reach. In other words, it isn’t real. This is not entirely untrue, but because environmentalism has recently become less about the true conservation of life, and about “green” consumerism and manufacturing, as well as social status. But environmentalism, at its foundation, is relevant to every human. I understand what it is like for those who do not have a financially secure life, not knowing if they can afford their next meal. However, I made the realization that the poverty I was in was what wasn’t real, it was the simulation. Money, wealth, and poverty are concepts, and composed of symbolism. Money is inedible, not a material for constructing a dwelling place, and is artificial. Reality will exist with or without mankind. All that is necessary for optimal human existence has obviously had to exist before we did, and should remain here. There should always be edible life on Earth, wether or not I have any money at all. The same is true of water, shelter, atmosphere, and community. The poverty that I was in was not an inherent part of reality, but was created by civilization, dismaying though that realization might be.

-Should it be an exceedingly cold winter night, and your abode is without heating, and you merely have a bundle of blankets and clothing to provide warmth, such may suffice. Then, however, an outsider approaches your home, and supposing you are cold, sets it aflame. Scarcely escaping death, you rush outside to investigate the cause of your disastrous situation. After learning the stranger’s motivation, you find yourself perplexed: By what logic would setting a house on fire for the warmth of someone else ever be considered “good?” Understandably, you are upset, and you have no scruples about making this known. The stranger simple condemns you for your lack of gratitude, declaring that “there are hundreds who would love to have a fire this nice!”.-

The above paragraph metaphorically displays the logic to be found in those civilians who are all too eager to lecture on the apparent lack of thankfulness of we who oppose civilization. No, I am not endlessly grateful for these luxuries that are to be the cause of death. And no, there is not a massive amount of individuals eager to jump into a burning house. Those who truly are suffering from lack of water, food, and freedom in “lesser countries” are again, fighting, desperate for necessity, not luxury. These are people who are more often than not, forced into their situation. Many struggling third-world-countries were tribal societies that functioned on their own, and though not without problems, had basic access to necessities. These tribal societies, which are sustainable for an indefinite amount of time, until disturbed by an outside force, are then contacted (read: dominated) by civilized societies who promise a plethora of benefits to this new lifestyle. Instead, they are put at the bottom of a civilized society, or interrupted and left to regain function on their own.

If more individuals, or societies as a whole, were aware of the logical fallacy behind “luxurious civilization,” surely its reputation would fall considerably. Civilization is a beautiful (or so it is intended to be), empty lie that cannot guarantee anything it promises. Civilization is a mere flawed idea, whereas Nature ultimately is. 

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