TJ // On the extremes

Sometimes we like to think we act a lot more sustainable than we in fact are. Humans have an interesting ability to exaggerate reality at times. During my time in Taize, France, I had the chance to get to know TJ from the US. TJ is pursuing to become a priest and is concerned with translating his faith into meaningful acts that actually make a difference in the world, rather than just stopping at lofty ideas about the way god intended life to be. As a christian, TJ believes that he is called to be the hands of god, and as odd as that may sound to some, he sees it as a real challenge to mesh his actions and beliefs.

For many christians, TJ feels they need to get over their self-righteousness when it comes to acting more sustainable. Just because you donate money to a charity doesn’t mean that you are helping to create a sustainable society. Sustainability is more than just a few simple behavior changes, but rather encompasses the larger cultural change needed around the world.

But this problem doesn’t just happen within the religious community.

Within the sustainability movement, there are some extremes that tend to do more harm than good. One example of an extreme for TJ are individuals who buy organic regardless of cost or inconvenience. As noble as their actions may be, or appear to be, TJ feels that people who act on the extreme end of the movement often deter others from adopting a similar behavior. Acting too self-righteous, as if you knew all the answers, often turns people away.

How many of us have met someone who is so concerned with one component of sustainability, yet seem to ignore or forget most other aspects. They may be extremely concerned with saving water (showers, washing dishes, watering the lawn) but pay no attention to where their clothes are made from and the regulations for those factories. Consistency is a problem for many.

Yet this does not mean that people should not have passions which drive them to make change in the world, for passion is often the driving factor behind many changes. But we should be sure not to let that passion blind other aspects of our lives.

Are there areas in your life which may be too extreme and doing more harm than good? Or is acting on the extreme sometimes needed to balance others inaction?


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