The Insufficiency of Being Earnest


Hip, hip, hurray for funny feminism. These satirical reviews of Bic’s new pink pen ‘for Her’ are the laughingest thing I’ve read so far this year.

I think I’m too earnest, a lot of the time. Not to say self-righteous… Funny is better than scoldy, right?

I care about things, though. When I was thirteen I cut out pages from a National Geographic photoessay on the Holocaust and blu-tacked them up in my room. I think my parents were a little disturbed at the picture of hundreds of shoes in a grey pile at Auschwitz, stuck on my bedroom door with a horrified, hand-printed caption, but they wisely said little.

I think I’ve just about always had a strong sense that The World Is Not OK, and it’s up to us to do something about it. I like having a job.

The other day I was struck by this wee animated talk on positive psychology, publicised by the good folks at Rubbish Free:

Psychology for a Better World. I feel calmer already!

I’m trying to absorb afresh the idea that people are attracted to happiness. I find it hard, when I see such appalling stuff going on in the world, and in myself, to resist the impulse to then act all appalled. And judgemental. And guilt-inducing.

In the face of child slavery on cocoa plantations, female genital mutilation, and even the average three hours a day Kiwis spend watching television, there’s a case to made for incredulous berating of all in earshot. But righteous indignation only takes us so far, so I’m trying to cultivate a more user-friendly approach to fixing the world.

I know a lot of you will have thought about this stuff more than me. I’d like your thoughts, please. Tips for changing the world without being too annoying?


[The second image is the last page of The Lorax, Dr Seuss. WordPress for iPad doesn’t support captions yet.]

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0 comments on “The Insufficiency of Being Earnest”

  1. becominglydia Reply

    Hmm. Fix yourself, rather than others, I think. I think part of our upsetness with the world is a projection. Not all, but part. Change systems, not people. People have to change on their own, if and when they want to. People do the things they do for a reason. We do things to meet our deepest needs, but in outdated, unhelpful ways. Eg people eat lots of food to soothe themselves, because they haven’t found an alternative. They’re not fat because they’re greedy, but because they’re hurting and haven’t developed other methods.
    Go easy on yourself, and others, I reckon 🙂

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