I’ve been thinking a lot about the climate activists that have been shutting down cities over the past few days, and the animal rights activists that have been raiding family farms over the past year or so, trying to figure out what it is that makes them take such drastic actions.
In general, I want the same things they do; A healthier planet, a healthier population, and the better treatment of animals. So why are they out there terrorizing farmers, forcing millions of cars to idle needlessly in the streets, and demanding that all levels of government restrict the personal freedoms of billions of world people, while I’m here at home, just trying to figure out what I can personally do to be a better human, and occasionally tweeting my thoughts?
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus taught that most people behave the way they do because they believe that what they do is right & good.
I think that’s the difference between myself, and the vegan/climate activists that have been in the media over the past year. I believe that deep down, people are good. That people want to BE good. That people want to DO good. And that provided the proper information, opportunity, and support, they will ultimately come to the right conclusions on their own, and do good as a result.
The activists, on the other hand, believe that morality is the realm of a select few. That most people are only capable of acting in their own immediate best interest. And that morality must be legislated upon them by the elite, through the restriction of free choice, and the elimination of personal autonamy & freedom of thought.
History, however, has taught us that morality cannot be legislated. People cannot be forced to think or feel a certain way. The restriction of free choice & free thought will only lead to resentment within the population towards your cause. Ultimately, you will destroy the very people you are trying to save.
When you believe in your fellow man. When you are confident in the conclusions you have drawn. When you’re open to new ideas, and willing to change when the evidence suggests that your past conclusions were in error… you simply don’t NEED to force your beliefs upon others, because you’re confident that they too are capable of the same change. That they too are capable of coming to the same conclusion.
If we are to save our planet, AND the people who live here, it can only be done if the change comes from within, by ensuring that every person has the right to access information (even that which you personally disagree with), discuss it in public & in private, and act upon the conclusions that they draw from that information.