Thursday, June 5, 2014

Why we need to change "you can't do that" to "you can do this"

Here's something I know about people:
A few will be the sort that can handle deprivation in the face of abundance, but most won't, and some will outright resist it.
That's why severe diets don't work permanently, why people eat more than they need even when they know that they've had enough, why most people always seem to want bigger houses, more room, longer vacations, bigger cars.

It starts down at the bottom, like where I am right now:
If I just had one more room in this apartment...
And continues through to enormous McMansions with rooms you forget you have and have to invent purposes for.

But here's the thing: it's not just our own choices and our own lives that are like this. It's the whole culture. That's why it's so hard for green industries to catch on, and for governing systems to get straightened out--no one wants to hear "you've got to stop" and "you need to give up" and "you can't have that anymore." And the more entrenched you are in how things are, the more money you're making off the broken systems, the more you'll resist the change.


But resistance doesn't stop change, it just gives it something to push against. And change can be managed by making it less of an us-against-them, less of a "I'm taking that away from you", and more of a better exchange, a "here's something so much better."

More facts I know about people:

  • Technology has taken off because there's always something better on the horizon
  • Better, as an idea, is always changing
  • Ads define a lot of public opinion on whether things are working or not
Let's take control of our own zeitgeist. Let's define a radical Better that actually is better--greener, more sustainable, more fair.
Further, let's focus the better-making on the other side of the argument from where it's been-- if people want to take long hot showers, let's invest in all the researchers inventing low-energy water heaters and household water recycling and low-flow showerheads that have decent water pressure, especially the ones that are creating super-affordable products with their research. 
If people refuse to give up their hot cars, make the sustainable ones so well designed, so good looking, so affordable, and so mileage-efficient that they just out-compete the gas-guzzlers. Let's create an industry for self-driving cars and cars that burn your household waste without emissions, and cars that run on water or air or grass clippings or sunlight, or power that comes from the roads they run on.
If people want their meat, let's make it so that free-range, natural-raised, and organic are tastier and more affordable than battery farms and feed lots. Let's invent lab-grown meats that taste better than anything that was alive and killed, and that happen in ways that look cool so that they'll be in-demand. Let's pour opinion and funds and pressure-for-change into making alternative meats--fish, frogs, whatever--so delicious and so popular and so cheap and easy that they become the bulk of our meat-intake. Let's invent food replicators. Hell, let's replace meat all together with something else that doesn't kill anything to make it.
 We get to decide what we'll put up with. And if the majority of people won't put up with scarcity, deprivation and denial, instead of fighting against that, let's use it to boost the Better, to get everyone eating healthier, driving healthier, thinking better, living better, throwing the weight of public opinion into directions that improve the day-to-day reality not just of the rich who can afford it, but of everyone.

Let's not just take away the bad things. Let's replace them with things we haven't even thought of yet that are so much better that we can't imagine how we ever lived without them. I mean, how did we do anything without the internet, computers and cell-phones? Let's do that with whatever replaces junky things now-- how did we ever think 20 mi a gallon was decent, how did we ever think that force-feeding animals was the most efficient way to get meat, how did we ever live like that...
Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...