And Man Said to the Environment: F*** You

Cameron Conaway explains why good men must care for the environment, not dominate it.

Many articles here at The Good Men Project have talked about the biological and mythological drives that make men be and want to be dominant. But there has not been an article that’s talked explicitly about the single most consistent and easily exploited source that has “fueled” men’s dominant drive: The Environment.

Exclaimer: To the people outspoken against the triple bottom line and climate change, to the people wanting to end the EPA because it’s stopping economic growth: You are homicidal and suicidal without know it or showing it. Talk about a lack of transparency. Environmental and social activist Derrick Jensen said it best, “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of the economic system.”

But what do we hear about during political debates or from the President or from nearly every media outlet? Economic growth. What are our politicians saying will create economic growth and get the economy moving? Construction. And what is construction mostly? Destruction.

Those unemployed during these difficult economic times are struggling hard. But their struggles should not be alleviated by jobs that rely on overusing finite resources. That’s putting a Band-Aid on the exposed veins of a severed limb.

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Without hesitation, I can say that most men in positions of corporate power see the environment as something there to be used and abused. It’s a free source to be exploited so their company can be successful. It’s easy and cheap. It’s the quiet victim they know can’t speak out. In that sense, as I’ve controversially stated before regarding porn, exploiting the environment unsustainably is for wimps. In fact, you are a wimp even if you are ignorant about this issue. Ignorance isn’t an excuse anymore.

Like Luke in this clip from Modern Family, we need to learn to be frugal. Now. We need to learn, as we’ve done during depressions and WWII—to make do with what we have. To stop saying to ourselves, “the sky’s the limit” if it means first crushing species and permanently destroying the environment for the sake of finding a trace chemical that fuels the umpteenth iPad. If it means flying a pre-boxed Caesar Salad 3,000 miles to make it to store shelves.

Remember in gradeschool dodgeball how you’d first take out the easy opponents—the uncoordinated or underdeveloped kids? That came from instinct and learned behavior. We see early in life that other things can be stomped on. When I purchased my Jack Russell Terrier puppy he was absolutely tormenting a smaller, weaker dog. The world is all about survival. Unfortunately, like smoking, the environment shows the effects of its degradation slowly. Doubly unfortunate is that we don’t realize the degradation of the environment is the degradation of ourselves. Whereas with smoking we will eventually see our symptoms and get to the hospital for our cancer, regarding the environment, we’ll die before we have the chance to know what we did and what symptoms in us it caused.

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In 2011, most men do not care about the environment because they don’t live there. They may work there but they don’t live there. They work in high-rise cubicles and enclosed garage warehouses, they live, as I do here in Bangkok, mostly seeing the environment or whatever traces are left of it through windowpanes. Soon, we’ll be looking out through widow pains. Veni, vidi, Vici. We Came, we saw, we Conquered.

It’s cool when fashion recycles itself. It’s not cool when sustainable living does because it means there was (and is as I write) a period of absolute and possibly irreversible destruction.

Photo crustmania/Flickr

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About Cameron Conaway

Cameron Conaway is a former MMA fighter, an award-winning poet and the 2014 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. He is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet, Bonemeal: Poems, Until You Make the Shore and Malaria, Poems. Conaway is also on the Editorial Board at Slavery Today. Follow him on Google+ and on Twitter: @CameronConaway.

Comments

  1. “You are a wimp even if you are ignorant of the issue.”

    Huh? GMP asks men to maintain awareness of a multitude of issues. Many men out there – readers of this blog or not – have other things on their plate. And they’re wimps if they are working full time, raising kids, and just trying to get by? This is a joke man. Just because you have time to write about it doesn’t mean that it should carry the same weight to everyone else.

    So I’d ask you to please expand on your definition of “wimp” here. You’ve pretty much admitted in this piece that you’re tossing the word around because it is “controversial”.

    • The continued use of “wimp” to is 1980s junior high school level. Let’s raise our thinking and the dialogue up to an adult level. Please.

      Evidently, things are different in Bangkok but here in these United States, most men aren’t “men in positions of corporate power. . .” You’ve been listening to too many feminists if you think that more than a tiny minority are “men in positions of corporate power.”

      There are far, far, far more men who go to work and do what they’re told and live from paycheck to paycheck than “men in positions of corporate power. There are far, far, far more men facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, and/or repossession than “men in positions of corporate power.” There are far, far, far more men are unemployed than “men in positions of corporate power.”

      This article is out of touch with the reality that the millions of men (and women) who are un- or underemployed, in debt, facing foreclosure and repossession, and are wondering how they are going to buy school supplies and winter clothes for the kids may not have the mental and emotional cycles, not the mention the funds to install solar panels.

      They’re not wimps. They’re trying to survive. Have some compassion.

      • Eric,

        I’ll comment on the topics you brought up that GL didn’t. Here are your quotes:

        (1) most men aren’t “men in positions of corporate power
        (2) There are far, far, far more men who go to work and do what they’re told and live from paycheck to paycheck than “men in positions of corporate power. There are far, far, far more men facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, and/or repossession than “men in positions of corporate power.” There are far, far, far more men are unemployed than “men in positions of corporate power.”

        Here is my response:

        I agree with you 100%, but I’m beginning to think literacy levels are fading. I never said (nor would I ever believe) any of the things you imagined I did. I’ve struggled at the bottom of the middle class all of my life. My life is about compassion, Eric. But if compassion means continuing the same old game of putting down concrete just for people to be happy for a few more years maybe we need to rethink things. Maybe we need a revolution where the next thing you do in life after you get a job isn’t to have a kid. Maybe those winter clothes could come from the millions of gently used winter clothes for $1 at Goodwill or Salvation Army rather than the $30 hoodie made in a modern-day slave-factory somewhere. There are options out there, but it certainly seems like the vast majority of people either aren’t aware or don’t care. My goal is only to raise awareness.

        ~Cameron

    • G.L. Piggy,

      (1) One purpose of the GMP is to help develop, maintain and cultivate awareness. I’m not sure if you meant your statement as a complaint or just to state the obvious.
      (2) Everybody has other things on their plate. There won’t be a plate if we don’t start taking these issues seriously. We’ve long passed the point where we can joke about the things we need to do. Economies are collapsing and a large reason is because we’ve sapped the environment. If you’d like literature or sources on this please email me.
      (3) I don’t have time to write. I make it after I work a 14-hour day because it’s important. Please see the article as an article and not as a single word. I am expanding/transforming the word if only you’d read the article as the whole rather than get obsessed over 1/612 of it.
      (4) I’m beginning to feel quite certain based on 99% of your comments that you aren’t looking to soak up ideas, you are looking to find holes that aren’t there and then exploit them for whatever reason.

      Thanks for reading,

      ~Cameron

  2. And juuuust to be clear, the last article wasn’t controversial as much as it was just widely panned by the readers here.

    I can dig some of the stuff you write, Cameron, but this whole “my way or the wimp way” is pretty grating for people who want to soak up ideas instead of sermons. I don’t go to church for a reason.

  3. Nicely stated, Cameron. Most people are still stuck in the dying paradigm of Dems vs. Repubs, hoping the jobs will come back, and stupidly begging for economic growth at all costs. Among those costs: we drive >200 species to extinction every day, we pollute the air and water, and we destroy every aspect of the living planet while overheating an overshot Earth. It’s time to accept the new paradigm of living close to our neighbors and close to the planet that supports us. After all, Nature Bats Last.

    • And that’s the grand irony, Guy. Nature will win, ultimately. It will outlast us. Perhaps not in the form that we know it, but it will survive. The environmental movement, in its most honest sense, is about self-preservation, or stated more positively, preservation of a habitat in which our species can thrive.

  4. I think these guys have already said it for me: fb.me/wSdN5trw

  5. So what’s your answer? Are we all supposed to compost and use rain barrels? Should I put solar panels in the backyard and a small wind turbine on my house? Sorry, not going to happen. First of all because eco-friendly living is often too expensive to be sustainable (see Toyota Prius, wind farms, solar panels, etc) and also because, quite frankly, I don’t have the time. I commute 4-5 hours a day during which time I’m busy polluting the environment with my exhaust fumes. But I do it to keep that roof over my head and concrete under my feet. I have no ambition to live in a grass hut or bio dome, make my clothes from hemp and worry about all the plastic bags out there. And while I try not to litter or add to the mess, that’s the extent of my involvement. And I don’t feel bad about that. Not for a second. There are more important issues. This is WAY down at the bottom of the list.

  6. Cameron, what age do you think we are?

    The only times people have tried to manipulate me by threatening to revoke my masculinity or calling me a wimp since I was kid, aside from various debates with feminist women, is here on the GMP.

  7. The Wet One says:

    Like I said on the other thread (minus the first sentence):

    Seriously, anyone living in North America can really only “pretend’ to care about the environment. So long as we live the way we live, almost no one can 100% honestly claim that they “care about the environment.” You become very hypocritical very fast. Which isn’t to say I’m not sad about my way of life destroying the world, but I’m not going to live like an Eskimo or Native American did 500 years ago (which was also bad for the environment given the number of species that went extinct when their ancestors arrived on the North American continent 15 – 20,000 years ago (or whenever it was).

    As long as there are as many of us as there are, with no restraint whatsoever on our numbers, that want to live like North Americans and that want to have a better standard of living, the environment as we know it is completed screwed.

    That’s fine though. Our planet (i.e. the environment) has gone through many catastrophic events in the past that have dramatically changed the face of the earth and the diversity of life. Humans are just one walking, eating, breeding, jabbering mass extinction event on two legs. This too shall pass, and that will be all that was written on the anthropocene. In truth, properly understood within the full scope of geological time, there is absolutely nothing to care about. Individual humans, with their mostly short timeframes of reference will never really understand this. Due to the anxiety, fear and sadness that is caused by rivers catching on fire, species going extinct and masses of oil coating birds and shorelines, some people will always be activist about these things. However, in the long, none of it, none whatsoever, will matter. In 1 million years (maybe 10 million years who knows?) most evidence of our existence will be gone and will not matter at all.

    So, what to say at the end of all of that? Peace. Nothing else, just peace.

    I think that applies just as well here as there. Get over the environment. It will get over you. In more ways than one too.

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  1. […] Men Project is on an environmental kick now.  They brought in a guy named Cameron Conaway to give us the “Enviro-sinners in the Eyes of an Angry Blogger” routine: Without hesitation, I can […]

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