Posts Tagged ‘12 Steps’

Yesterday, I learned about Mr. Bush‘s new plan for commercial oil shale production. At first, I got mad, and went into another rant about our idiotic president. Then thought about the Pope’s discourse to the young Australian people:

Reluctantly we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth, erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption.

The Holy Father’s got it right, this time. We are insatiable.  And will have no rest until we have left no corner of the Earth unturned. 

Are we to let our addiction run its fatal course, or should we intervene

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Last Sunday came at the end of a hectic week. All I wanted was to sleep in, and read the New York Times, and do more of nothing. There was only one problem. Lashy, my Little Sister, was waiting for me. The thought of canceling brushed my mind. For a second, I imagined what it would be like to not get dressed, and stay home. The pleasure of being lazy. No, I had to honor my commitment to her. I knew she had been looking forward to our outing, all week. When she called, I answered that yes, I was coming to pick her up and we would go ice skating as planned.

I have been thinking about what it is that moved me to go through the effort of meeting Lashy last Sunday. And what’s the difference with not following through with some of my green commitments? When I say I am not going to drive to the gym, and I am going to bike instead, and then I drop the ball, and grab my car key, what is it that happens? In the case of Lashy, it is my heart that moves me. I empathize with her, and I don’t want to disappoint her. In the bike – no car situation, there is no one to relate to, except myself. I know ‘I should’, and if I don’t go through, the only person that’s being let down is ‘moi’. I can deal with that. I am pretty good at rationalizing . . .

This is why 12-Steps Programs require their members to attend meetings, and more importantly, to choose a sponsor. The sponsor is the person that keeps the addict honest, and makes it hard for him or her to relapse. In the climate fight, we are all supposed to wean ourselves from our addictive habits of convenience and comfort. On our own. I say, we each need a green sponsor, a person with whom we can contract and who will hold us responsible to our promises. Someone we respect and whom we don’t want to let down.

Wal-Mart is onto something with its Personal Sustainability Promise initiative.

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I am an addict. And I need help. In the absence of a clear program, I am left on my own, to find an approach that will work for me. It’s been confusing, so far, and I can’t tell what’s helpful, from what’s not.

The Not so Green Zone
First, there is the danger of the not so green zone. You know, that fuzzy place where it’s pretty much up to you to decide what your green regimen should be. It’s very flexible, and understanding of your situation as a recovering consumer. Let’s set our expectations low, since we know the moon is out of reach. The problem is just that. Low expectations produce dismal results, coupled with the dangerous illusion that one is doing something. The not so green zone is where I dwelled until a few weeks ago, when I decided, enough was enough, and I wanted results.

The Absolute Green Zone
Second, and just as dangerous, is the absolute green zone. No room for error here. You are green, or not. There is a list of things you know you have to do, all of them, and there is no skipping any. The advantage is you know what is expected of you. Things are clear. Relapses are frowned upon, and you better get back on the train quick. Very much like going on a diet. You know what happens to chronic dieters, though. They follow the diet for a while, and then one day, they just get fed up, and say, the hell with it, I am going to eat as a please. I am a living testimony of why (green) lists alone rarely work. Lists are tools that need a context.

The Green Steps Community Zone
Outside of these two danger zones, lies a third space, one I am just starting to formulate for myself, and who knows, maybe others if they want. I call it the Green Steps Community zone. It borrows from the 12 Steps model and the community principle of social networks. 12 Steps was built on the notion that the support from other fellows struggling with similar addictions, coupled with accountability to the group and a sponsor, are essential to the success of the recovery process. People cannot accomplish recovery on their own. Couple 12 Steps with social networks, and you’ve got the beginning of a solution. Social networks are not the privilege of Web 2.0. There are many other different types of social networks, starting with families, neighborhoods, churches, schools, workplaces, all of which need to be considered for this idea of Green Steps Communities.

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