Maybe we’re all predestined for hypocrisy
Is hypocrisy inherent in humanity?Whoa. Heavy thought. Portentousness alert!Couldn’t help thinking it, though, as I read the headlines of the week and pondered potential column topics.Living here in Tinseltown on The Divide, we get such a hearty dose of hypocrisy served up with our daily granola and yogurt every day, it’s sometimes hard to catch your breath, much less come up with a coherent comment on the mess we’ve made.Take the Aspen City Council’s moment of self-examination over its use of bottled water and other landfill-bound refreshment containers and serviceware during a retreat at the Aspen Institute.The array of outsourced foods, wasteful packaging and other P.C. no-nos was so overwhelming, they stung Councilmen Jack Johnson and J.E. DeVilbiss into making some noise about it, which in turn prompted comments from others, at least according to one published account.And so it should be. Here we have this Canary Initiative going on, and the city is handing out the very kind of wastefully packaged and distributed drinks and foods that are heavily criticized for putting the environment at risk.And one need not look far to see the truly stupendous examples of wasteful living and excessive consumption that has become both Aspen’s hallmark and its mark of shame. Monstrous houses sucking up energy and resources of all sorts, huge petro-swilling cars of every exotic and luxury brand name you can think of idling on every street in traffic jams worthy of big cities anywhere – it’s all there for the world to see and make fun of.Our mad dash to build luxury homes deep in the woods is another example of our foolishness. Not only does it cause increased consumption of that famously nonrenewable stuff, gasoline, but it puts the property owner and his or her family right in the path of a potentially raging, killer forest fire, should one ever get started nearby. But Aspen is not alone in its hypocrisy.How is it that Carbondale, where I live, does not have a city-sponsored recycling program? This is a town that has prided itself on its alternative lifestyle, eco-friendly worldview and small-is-beautiful commercial outlook over the years, and has actually tried to “brand” itself in that vein. But those residents who want to recycle on a regular basis have to take their trash to some other nearby town’s receptacles to do so. How can that be?And in a valley that prided itself on being one of the most educated places on the planet only a couple of decades ago, how is it that we are so sloppy with our garbage that the bears consider entire neighborhoods to be nothing less than junk-food takeout opportunities? Just this week, we were treated to the spectacle of a mature black bear being killed because he took advantage of our inability to keep our garbage to ourselves. Even the wildlife guys were moved to tears as they killed this magnificent specimen.The examples abound and befuddle those who seek to make sense out of such things. Not me, though. I have long since ceased to believe I can make sense out of this kind of fuelishness. It’s all I can do to comment, shed a tear of sorrow for out benighted globe, and move on to some other topic that is less soul-shredding, less befuddling.But the question here is, can we do any better? Or is our ability to understand the long-range implications of what we do so stunted, so poorly developed from the time when we are very young onward that we have no choice?That doesn’t seem logical, since some of us profess grave concern at the human tendency toward self-destruction. And if one human mind can come up with that kind of thinking, it would seem that all of us could, and things could get done to counteract that tendency.But we don’t. And there’s the rub.John Colson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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