Hidden Hypocrisies of Social Responsibility
Holy hell. How obvious must a device be that we may pick up on, process, and potentially act upon it? If certain hypocrisies were as obvious as the preceding titular alliteration, it is possible that one may start to question certain practices performed currently out of habit. Perhaps specious words spoken are apparent — what, then, shuts down intervention that could otherwise stop these words from becoming actions?
I was at a meeting a few weeks ago to learn about certain scholarship and grant applications; a meeting which presented itself as an opportunity to take more opportunities. The speaker, in an effort to sound motivational, emphasized the notion that students in attendance of this meeting all had great potential to change the world — academic poppycock. He urged us to apply for grants and scholarships in order to fund our intellectual pursuits which would, in due course, better the community / nation / world / universe. The extraneous jabber continued. Meanwhile, bright-eyed students swiftly sifted through a nineteen-paged packet they had picked up prior to the meeting, containing all of the information being repeated in front of them. I got up and left. Shortly after my departure, my phone notified me that I had received an email with a PDF attachment of the same packet rolled up in my hands. There were at least one hundred students in that meeting — equalling almost one thousand printed pages (double-sided; at least this was a consideration).
Archaic, the middle-man (middle-woman? middle-being?), an imprudent convenience, whatever the phrase — printing a hefty packet and later sending it digitally was a mistake. This would have been a typical mistake, perhaps unnoticed, had it not been for the speaker heralding students of their potential for grandiose world change. How could people even begin to reform policy and practice without first considering what their institutions are regularly feeding them? How could I, a student concerned about the sustainability of our epoch, our holocene, pick up a pile of refined tree pulp only to have the information it bears both spoken to me and sent later in a more sustainable format.
The student government at my institution admitted to not having a single clause about environmental considerations in the process of adjudicating fund dispersal. Students rally day and night about social issues and how separatism within the human race is our ultimate bane. Rather than hark on our weaknesses, why do we not pay regards to the single element that unifies us all — our environment, our earth, our communal home. Horror is the current hypocrisy that plagues every day actions of pollution, waste, and environmental denial. Why is the focus of our efforts not on the health of the vessel which unconditionally nurtures us?
Laziness. Reliance on conventionality. Perceived convenience. The printing of piles of unnecessary packets was most likely due to someone pulling together the meeting and, out of habit, producing handouts of information as they are used to receiving at meetings they attend. This traditional method of information dispersal does not topically appear inappropriate. Upon further consideration, however, it is obvious that there are more sustainable alternatives. The digital file could have been sent prior to the meeting and fewer physical handouts could have been available for those still unaccustomed to modern means of communication. There are even further alternatives — endless, really.
It is fruitless to encourage systematic improvement when the preachers themselves are not contributing to the change which they desire. Leading by example, then, is one of the most successful methods of promoting social responsibility. It is easy to forget that sustainability is a fundamental component to our daily actions and that there is always a more sustainable alternative. Thus it is imperative to always question why a process is carried out as it is and not tolerate the answer of convenience as a means of decision-making. While some solutions may seem rather precipitous, restrictions are easily adaptable. If the closest flower withers, the bee must find its way to the next one. It is our prerogative to withdrawal our proboscis from familiar ways and seek more virtuous resolution.