Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Holier (read greener) than thou!!!

This is in response to some of the comments I have been receiving on my activities through public and private communication channels for some time now. This post has been overdue for quite sometime now but the immediate trigger was a comment by a friend of mine on the post prior to this. That post was a review of a recent Tamil movie. I initially thought I'd respond a bit late but since another friend joined issue, I thought its best to post this asap. The primary question posed was

'I fail to understand how a person who so unequivocally argued against rich taking home so much money, patronizes a movie made at a record cost, involving so much consumption of energy.'

Most queries are probably along these lines. A point by point clarification is impossible simply due to the wide variety of questions. A common clarification will, I hope, help in addressing quite a few of the questions posed as most of them have a common basis.

To start with, the question regarding patronizing a movie that was made at record cost is pretty trivial and does not deserve any attention though the question of hypocrisy certainly does. An exact analogy to that question would be to accuse Osama of tax evasion. I do commit regularly far greater acts of hypocrisy. To begin with, I make my living in the state of Alberta in Canada. Anyone who knows a little about Canadian economy will know that its the petroleum industry that runs the economy here. So, though I don't receive money directly from Oil and Natural Gas corporations as I am a grad student in the computer science dept, in all probability, without them Ill have no funding. Secondly, many leading environmentalists and climatologists claim that for building a sustainable future, more important than reducing automobile emissions is local consumption. Eating food that was produced within 250 miles of ones residence is the most important thing to be done if we care even an iota for the environment. I score pretty miserably in this aspect. My food is still rice based and I don't think it is grown here in Canada. So, its quite evident that I have mortgaged my soul to the devil and am a serious contender to the title of 'The biggest hypocrite' ever.

But, the important thing to note here is that I have only mortgaged my soul temporarily and have not made myself a slave completely. I can honestly look into the eye of anyone on this planet and say that I have been trying quite furiously to redeem my mortgaged soul. I have a set plan and I am executing it. Every person has his/her own circumstances and constraints that limit the persons 'best response' to any given situation. But, this does not prevent anyone from acknowledging the problem and doing his/her bit as and when possible and at the same time attempting to continuously improve. I felt that not acknowledging the problem in the open when the heart says its a problem is cowardice. This despite the fact that I am incapable of taking any significant step right away. But, I promise, that I am trying and I am hoping to make significant progress within the next 2-3 years. While this is the best I can claim for myself, only those people who watch me on a day today basis can comment objectively on this claim.

In particular, with respect to the problem of addressing energy consumption and social issues, I feel the situation for anyone is like that of being caught in the Matrix. All it needed in the Matrix movie was to consume the blue pill and you were on your way to escaping the system. Unfortunately, its not that simple in real life. It takes tremendous courage, determination and luck to even attempt to look beyond what the system wants us to look at. It takes a lot of time. Trying to achieve what one thinks is correct with respect to issues pertaining to energy consumption and social issues is not a simple overnight task. It takes time. A lot of it. Again, I am trying and will continue to try. I hope to achieve reasonable perfection some time soon. I might never achieve it too. Even then, its my implementation that might have gone wrong and not my intentions.

Few of my friends have taken quite serious offense at my stance and it has certainly brought about a significant change in relations. This is truly sad. What I say/feel is only my opinion and I have no business subjecting others to those standards. All I can say is that I do not do it and I have no clue how I can prove that to someone. It is pretty obvious to me that an aggressive, opposing stand is not in anyones best interests. Its not like I represent communists and the people who hold opposing views represent (as a friend who possibly took offense said) 'capitalist bums'. I do feel quite strongly that conversations regarding these issues are very important. I have absolutely no issues in being criticized in private or being public. If there is a way to improve something I do/think, then those ideas are always welcome. It does not matter whether the person who suggests the idea himself/herself follows the idea. But, I make the final call on what I think is right, just as each person decides for himself/herself. Refraining from discussions is the last thing I desire. While, it is not possible to come to a conclusion by discussing through comments on blog posts, it is certainly helpful in pointing out some issues about the other point of view.

To summarize:
a.) Do post ur comments. No matter how virulently you want to criticize.
b.) I will/do not judge anyone based on the standards I am trying to set for myself.
c.) Yes, I am a major hypocrite and I have mortgaged my soul to the devil. But, I am trying vigorously to redeem it.

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