We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
If you’re too-well-satisfied that you’re a good greenie, you’re more willing to cut yourself slack when you hurt the environment.
Call it the Al Gore’s Giant Fraggin’ Mansion Effect.
According to a new study in Psychological Science, humans engage in a process called “moral self-regulation.” Basically, we’re constantly calculating the trade-off between being able to see ourselves as good people and the cost of engaging in all that non-advantageous goodness.
You might expect that being prompted (primed) to think of yourself as a good person would make you more altruistic or moral — but, in fact, the exact opposite appears to be the case.
Read the whole thing. I have too many reactions to this to post briefly, but my first thought was that I have seen this many times. (See Obama's Earth Day flights burn 9000 gallons of fuel.) The process goes far beyond Greenieism. Many people play tricks with themselves in order to have their cake and eat it too.
The NJ summed it up perfectly: "They seem to think they get a pass because they're good." It reminds me of our recent QQQ from PJ O'Rourke: "Everybody wants to save the world but nobody wants to help Mom with the dishes."
It's important to most people to view themselves as virtuous. Cheap and easy virtuousness (recycling, donating to charities, volunteering, serving on committees, etc) is often used by people, consciously or unconsciously, to excuse or to compensate for their sins and crimes (eg not reporting cash income, cutting corners, patronizing massage parlors, spreading gossip, lying, etc). In my view, honest people wrestle with sin rather than playing the "moral self-regulation" game.
How many criminals have been described as "pillars of their community," "great guy, always kind and generous," "everybody loved him," "a great supporter of civic causes"? Lots of them.
I am not talking about guilt-driven "conspicuous virtue" here, like the cheating guys who bring their wives roses - I am talking about the secret compromises people make internally so as not to mentally suffer from their feelings of sinfulness and hypocrisy.
I could go on and on on this topic. More later, maybe.
Photo: John Gotti, the "Dapper Don," once a pillar of his community of Howard Beach, Queens, NYC, generous donor to his church and kids' sports, and an avid recycler with a deeply caring interest in the always-Green trash-hauling and recycling biz.
"...we’re constantly calculating the trade-off between being able to see ourselves as good people and the cost of engaging in all that non-advantageous goodness."
Another description of this is survival of the species.
Survival of the individual is an instinct, and while compassion may be good, it runs counter to self-interest. Unless, that is, the compassion is taught to someone else, a selfish act in itself though a very natural one.
I thought it was common knowledge that the garbage hauling business had been taken over by the mob years ago. They control the re-cycling business also. You want America back--then you help to bring an end to the mob--scary huh--does that become a piece of the moral courage question?
I had a meeting with John in the mid 80's concerning upper east-side hauling and he told me how many dogs that were found disposed of in the cans and how if he ever caught one of these stooges "dumping" a dog he was going to "dump" them and their families too! "That would put a stop to that!" "Any cats?" I asked him, and he replied, "Who gives a flying f**k about cats?" I guess he wasn't a PETA sympathizer.