Sunday, January 13, 2008

Three Short Pieces: 1. Save the Fish!

There's a line where righteous behaviour can spill over into self-righteousness. It's a very fine line. Everyone knows it: the point where a matter of principle can become a matter of absurdity. Take what happened to my friend John. He was on a weekend camping trip in mid-Wales with his five year old daughter. This was the first time John had seen Rhiannon for weeks. And he's crouching by a little silvery stream with a child's fishing net, chasing the trout around, the girl hanging onto his leg and chattering, both of them more intent upon their conversation than with catching a fish, when they're approached by a couple.

"What do you think you're doing?" the woman says. The man just stands in the background with his arms folded, looking displeased. She has long hair and a woolly jumper, and he has sandals and a beard. John looks at them bemused. "You're not allowed to catch fish in here, you know," she adds, indignantly.

John stands up. "Catch fish?" he says. "With this?" And he holds up the flimsy stick with its little plastic net.

"Well, you look Green," the woman says.

It took a second or two for that one to sink in. John thought she was referring to his fishing abilities. And then it struck him. She was referring to his politics. She considered herself a conservationist. She was trying to Save The Fish.

It's a common problem on the Righteous Left. People become so caught up in what they like to think is the Big Picture, that they stop noticing the details. The mind is so set in a righteous groove that it can longer distinguish a threat from a plaything. Of course the real threats to the future of the Planet - the international corporations, the military-industrial complex - are so unassailable and, at the same time, so ubiquitous, that it is beyond the scope of the average person to challenge them in any but the most peripheral of ways.

So what's a good Eco-activist to do? He has to do something. This is the point, maybe, where the sense of a personal mission can fall into pomposity - where righteous purpose becomes self-righteous posturing - and can end in the absurd spectacle of a couple of middle-class hippies defending these swift, muscular trout from a child's plastic toy.

Rhiannon said: "I think that Woman's mad!"

1 comment:

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Your points are well taken and well spoken. On one I would like to elaborate in the interest of informing the public - The Military Industrial Complex.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see: