We’re all gripped by a constant negotiation and cycle of forgiveness with the people in our lives. A gay man will wave off a whiff of homophobia from his sister because he knows “she’s not like that.” A woman of color will ignore racially off-kilter comments from her white friends because she knows where their hearts are. Any of us who’s stayed close with less-than-perfect people has needed to reach for some form of denial and focused on the reasons why we love them. Forgiveness is a virtue, right?
What are the implications for the way we view both ourselves and the way we live? In brief: in the coal energy culture — a culture of workers and production — you are your job. “I am what I make.” In an oil and gas energy culture — a culture of consumption — you are your possessions. “I am what I buy.” But in a renewable energy culture, you are what you conserve. “I am what I save and protect.” We aren’t used to thinking like this, because we can’t see where the money will come from. But in a culture of renewables, money will not be the only measure of wealth. Well-being will factor as an economic positive, too.