Wednesday, July 09, 2008

getting political and self-righteous

World news makes me angry. Politics infuriates me. Everything I hear and see about what's going on in the world depresses me, but I can't look away.

I can't look away because I know I shouldn't. It's my responsibility to be informed, or so I keep telling myself. I feel guilty if I spend a week away from the newspapers or the radio because I've witnessed the mind-bogglingly uninformed being ridiculous in public. Wow, could I be more elitist? Anyway.

As a citizen of a democracy, I need to know what the issues are; I need to know how I feel about them and what I should do. I frequently fail at that second part.
I feel like I need to know what is happening, but what is happening depresses me, and I don't know what to do about it other than be self-righteously whiny and indignant about everyone else's bullshit. Which isn't helpful. And vote occasionally, which isn't generally helpful either.

My current annoyance comes from the recent G8 decision on climate change, which some Canadian politicians are heralding as a significant step in the right direction - hold on, when did they start believing in climate change in the first place? I must have missed that part. Anyway, it's a decision that means nothing and binds no one. Cutting emissions by half by 2050 - well, okay. Now everyone is asking "Half of what?" and so am I. Ugh. It makes me crazy how politics is always about the next election and short-term costs and the economy. This has all been said before by more eloquent people, but it's completely unreasonable to leave all the tough work to the next administration.

So. To calm myself down I make plans for myself. I try to list all the things I can do myself without having to interact with anyone else, because we all know I'm not about to get involved in the political process. Climate change? We haven't turned our air conditioning on yet this summer and yesterday the humidity made it feel like 39 C. We keep our house relatively cool in the winter, and we're looking into getting a solar hot water heater. We just had a home energy audit that encouraged improvement in many areas. We hang our washing outside when it is sunny. We have fluorescent lights. I don't have a driving license; I walk or take the bus as my main forms of transportation, and if I get over my fear of traffic I'll start biking more. Self-righteous enough? Ouch. Clearly. The main black mark on my record is probably my air travel, and the travel that I generate by being in a long-distance relationship. More reason for me to secure legal means of living in the UK as soon as possible, I guess, in addition to the obvious emotional ones.

The little things one person or one family can do are not very significant, but I guess they aren't meaningless. While I occasionally take comfort in feeling superior to those who live less energy-efficient life styles out of ignorance or choice, my own pride does nothing to ease the global crisis. I feel pretty angry at people who don't share my opinion sometimes, especially when the world is at stake. That's a horrible thing to say, given I know many people object strongly to my opinions on lots of issues, and I recognize their right have hold most of those opposite opinions. But it's true - I'm angry.

Mostly I'm angry at those who have power for being too wrapped up in themselves to do anything that could make them unpopular with oil-hungry voters. But, for better or for worse, this is what democracy is. Sometimes that is comforting; other times it is terrifying.

In prettier news, here is dusk at the cottage.


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