Alone, I Feel More Connected Than Ever
The public response to COVID-19 revived my trust in human nature
In January, my friend Itsik and I had a mini-fight via email about how the public responds — or fails to respond — to the looming threat of climate change. We disagreed a bit on whether individual people have a moral responsibility to take steps to mitigate .
Itsik was dismayed by how little his friends and coworkers were willing to alter their lives in order to help the environment. I was inclined to give everyone a pass for their inaction, because small, personal steps seemed to matter so little.
“I’m so frustrated by this super pervasive thing I see all over leftie, progressive spaces,” Itsik wrote, “of emphasizing over and over that it’s too late for individual choices around the environment to matter. I still don’t see how that fact absolves us of any responsibility to look at what we could do differently.”
I told Itsik I understood why people felt dejected and powerless in the fight against climate change. It’s challenging, time-consuming, and expensive to make eco-friendly choices. Most of us are too busy and stressed (and often, too poor) to make responsible consumer choices all the time. Even if I do commit to an entire lifetime of “green” behavior, it could all be undone by the actions any random billionaire takes in a single day.
“I get it, this is a problem that can’t be solved by individual choices,” Istik replied. “But my point is this is the only issue I can think of where people actively discourage each other from taking steps to address it.”
Itsik had a point that I couldn’t deny. When it comes to most social problems, left-leaning, progressive people push for change both large and small. We encourage individuals to vote, but we also push for voter registration laws and Gerrymandering to be reformed so that voting will be easier. We aim to educate the masses on issues like racism and transphobia, but we also recognize we need to disrupt tiny instances of bigotry when we encounter them in our…