I am one of those left-wing liberals that like to rail about justice and equality. But as you know I feel challenged to look at the world with different eyes for a while. Let’s take a topical example. Supposing, as I stand and shout on social media with the No DAPL protestors, vehement in my beliefs that clean water and safeguarding the environment is more important than rich shareholders taking home yet more cash, that I turn the tables in that outrage, and am placed in the shoes of the CEO of a bank who are deeply invested in that pipeline. How might I feel?
I’ve been employed to run a profitable business. My priority is to keep the stockholders happy and keep my job. I cannot allow myself to ponder the rights and wrongs of the actual investment. If I did that with every dollar I’d never be able to get anywhere! I’ve been trained to see that as my emotions interfering with my work. I am good at making tough decisions and holding on through difficulties. This is how I earned both my place and the respect of my peers. I want to stay at the top. If I resigned over it, or lost my job taking a stand, someone else would be put in my place who would do the right thing by the investors anyway. I’d have lost my position and endangered the security of my co-workers and family for nothing.
There is no point, in any case, worrying about the environment, because everyone around me tells me that the scientists are wrong, that the protestors are just whining, that there is no real cause for alarm, that the earth can look after itself, and I am also, knowing myself to be canny, investing in renewable energy as well as fossil fuels, though perhaps with less enthusiasm. If that starts to get anywhere, my bank and I will be right behind that too. These things have a way of working out. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.
text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017 photo from Pixabay
(This piece contains part of an article published on Godspace. You can read it here.)