The terms ‘environmentalism’, and ‘environmentalist’ have been bandied about ad nauseum in common discourse since sometime in the ‘60s or ‘70s. As far as the current utilization of these terms is concerned, their use by certain ideologues has, sadly enough, resulted in a semantic impoverishment.
What generally enters our minds when we think ‘environmentalist’? Someone who is engaged in looking out for the best interests of forests and wildlife? Someone who is advocating for clean air, water, or soil? Someone who is concerned about the effects of global warming? Well, let me be clear. All of these endeavors are important. We need to preserve our natural ecosystems; we need to drink pure water and breathe clean air; we need to drastically cut down on carbon pollution, but if we are naïve enough to confine environmentalism strictly to those parameters, then we are, perhaps unwittingly, doing a great disservice to the true concept of environmentalism, and by extension, to the very environment itself.
So, having said that, what, then, is a true environmentalist? I would like to posit some answers to that question, though I am certainly not intending to put forth an exhaustive reply. Add some responses of your own, if you feel so moved.
First and foremost, an environmentalist is one who understands that greed is the most destructive force that can be unleashed upon our environment. Greed, in and of itself, profanes the environment, but I would suspect that few of us would disagree that greed is a key impulse responsible for the clear-cutting of our forests, and the fouling of our soil, water, and atmosphere.
Greed, however, is not the only human quality that is divisive to our environment. An environmentalist is also someone who understands that hatred of any kind does significant harm to the environment, be it partisan, familial, racial, ethnic, religious, or whatever brand of loathing it may be. An environmentalist is one who embraces love, peace, and non-injury, one who naturally intuits that the use of the tactics of rage, humiliation, intimidation, political divisiveness, murder or violence of any kind, constitutes a desecration of the environment. An environmentalist is, therefore, one who understands, and has the courage to admit, that ‘death mills’ of any variety in our midst, are a blight of the worse kind upon the environment. One who explodes in anger and commits physical violence toward a significant-other fouls the environment. One who attempts to exact vengeance through imposing his will upon others by means of dubious legal maneuvers and ‘attack-dog lawyers’ is polluting the environment in a manner that he cannot possibly imagine.
If all that these contemporary, so-called ‘environmentalists’ are, is tree-huggers, then they’re worthy of the ridicule that may befall them. They deserve similar scorn if they are attempting to exercise their influence to the detriment of others whom they may despise. I would refer to such individuals as ‘environazis’ perhaps, but certainly not true environmentalists.
To ignore the interpersonal dimension of human activity when considering the general milieu that we all inhabit on this earth, is to do the gravest injustice to the very environment we seek to preserve and protect. If our hearts are dark, and our actions toward one another are hateful, violent and/or murderous, then no amount of clean air, pure water or pristine forest could begin to cleanse the toxic, putrid stain resulting from the acrimony we have so wantonly spilled out upon the environment that we supposedly hold so dear.
In conclusion, it is pointless and senseless to assert a philosophy in which the natural and interpersonal dimensions of reality are divorced from one another. They have always been, and will always be, intimately intertwined.