When I was a child, my dad would occasionally comment on one or another of our family friends or neighbours and say something along the lines of, “He/She’s a bit of a religious fanatic.” Thus, I grew up believing that fanaticism was a condition confined only to religious people, or religion and that was often borne out in my encounters with ‘born again’ christians as I went through a rather long and sustained religious ‘phase’ in my youth and on into my thirties. It was, in fact that precise fanaticism which switched me off to Christianity as I found that more often than not, it turned people away from churches and religion, rather than inviting them in.
Of course, I have also since discovered that being a fanatic doesn’t necessarily mean you are religious. I’ve encountered fanatical atheists, fanatical baseball followers, fanatical vegans and so on.
As it did within religious circles, fanaticism anywhere leaves me cold. It doesn’t really serve any useful purpose in my mind. It tends to alienate people, it jars my nerves in a way that I find untenable. When I encounter a fanatical person, my first instinct is to slam my door in their face. I find them vexatious to my spirit. I find they jangle the peace I endeavour (and most often fail) to cultivate around myself.
I was surprised, though when I started to find people who are fanatical about sustainability. Up until recently, most of the people I have met who are working towards sustainable lifestyles have been pretty awesome, zen, chilled out, and peace seeking individuals. The kind of people I love to be around, they don’t make a lot of waves (It’s bad for the coastline, and causes erosion, dontchaknow?) they grow their veges, raise their chickens, herd their goats, make soap and generally just get along.
As far as it goes for me, I don’t often get fanatical about anything… maybe coffee?
Sustainability is a learning process for me. I aspire towards sourcing food from as close to home as I can. I aspire towards cooking from scratch rather than buying ‘pre-prepared’ meals and recipe bases. I grow vegetables again.
I’m not quite ‘there’ yet. I’m aiming for 80:20% meaning that 80% of what we do is
real food, sustainable living kind of stuff, and 20% is not so much. At this point, I think I’m maybe 60:40% possibly edging towards 70:30% but I’m moving in the right direction. I still use plastics. I still buy red meat that is not ‘organic’ I still use bacon and ham that is just the stuff you buy in the supermarket. However,i do recycle, reuse, and am actively committed to reducing waste. I cook as healthily as my budget will allow (and that’s not easy on a pension).I still drive a petrol fueled car. Occasionally, I fly interstate (but I pay the extra carbon emissions offset when I buy my ticket). Sometimes, I eat take away. From MacDonald’s. I like their soft serve ice cream! What can I say.
That choice has gotten me into trouble with at least one sustainafanatic but that’s okay. I still choose to live as sustainably as I can whilst not being a fanatic about it.