The Life You Save May Be Your Own

DID, knitting, sci-fi, and strong opinions

Excuse me, your privilege is showing. November 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 1:59 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

There’s a rather heated debate about sustainability happening on the listserv for a pagan group I’m a member of.

I want to smack most of them.

The whole discussion reeks of rich privilege. “Anyone can be a healthy vegetarian if they get protein from diverse sources.” “Buying local is what everybody should do.” “Everybody should use natural medicine because it’s better for people and the environment.”

On an idealistic basis, I tend to agree with them. (I do, however, reject the blanket statements about everybody. Logical fallacy much?) But they’re flat-out missing the fact that there are a hell of a lot of people, even in the First World, who can’t afford it.

I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 10 years and know a lot about what works for my body. I also know it’s not fucking cheap. Extracting concentrated proteins from vegetable sources involves a fair bit of processing, and that increases cost to consumers.

I’d love to eat nothing but organic local produce. Sometimes I can afford local produce from the co-op, but usually it’s whatever’s on sale at the neighborhood Stop & Shop. I have to chooses this because otherwise I can’t pay my gas bill or buy food for my dog.

I wish I could try more alternative medical treatments, as my results with mainstream medicine have been mostly disappointing. But we have this while insurance system in the US. A visit to my mainstream primary care provider costs me nothing, and a month worth of meds costs me $5.00. The alternative medicine doctor Windhorse wanted me to see would cost me $450. Considering I live on $473.73 per month, that’s not really feasible.

It’s fine to suggest that these things are, in general, good things to do for yourself and the environment. But when you put the words “everyone should” into those sentences, then you exclude and shame the people who don’t have the resources to do those things.

By all means, let’s talk about the environment and how to improve it. But let’s also talk about privilege and be aware of it so we can check it at the door.


4 Responses to “Excuse me, your privilege is showing.”

  1. You make a great connection between ideological perfection and privilege!

  2. reflectionsonlifethusfar Says:

    Oh I agree Sara, some people get very wrapped up in the ideological side and forget the practical stuff-like income. I’ve been vegetarian for 16 years and can’t afford organic and local 365 days a year. I get it when I have the extra money for it but I can’t buy it on a regular basis (much as I’d like to). Same with the alternative medicine, they’re expensive if you’re making anything less than an upper middle class wage, or you have few expenses and can make the sacrifices in other areas of your life but that’s not possible for all of us. We have to remember to have compassion for ourselves and others not criticizing them if they can’t be perfect.

  3. I’ve tried to be vegetarian but my kind of autism with sensory issues and health problems made that impossible, I don’t have much money either so I gave up, now I worry about eating the best I can.

    • weordmyndum Says:

      Yeah, no single lifestyle choice works for everybody. Whether it’s sensory issues, money issues, health issues, or just plain not wanting to, vegetarianism doesn’t work for everyone. Same with any other lifestyle. And that’s okay.

      To imply that someone else’s moral and lifestyle choices are wrong because you disagree is presumptuous, short-sighted, and just plain asshole-ish. Part of the attraction of paganism, for me, is its freedom from absolutism. But I guess we each have to free our minds from absolutism before we can free our behavior from it.

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