This is Henry:
Henry likes to do all the usual things. Like going to the park,
or just hanging out at home
The problem is for Henry to be a Good person –that is, living a truly ethical, moral and virtuous life– he has to do this, and only this:
Sit. Don’t move. Don’t eat. And wait to die.
Everything we do affects the planet and the life on it in some way¹. Eating meat supports the meat industry which means more animals will be killed. But even not eating meat, at some point vegetables need to be pulled from the ground, probably murdering or at least displacing, and then probably murdering, insects along the way to market/processing place. While walking around, you kill insects just with your step. Same goes with driving. And that’s even before we get to an exploration of what microorganisms are killed with each step we take. And even if you ate baby food your entire life, you’re supporting an industry that built a babyfood making plant on top of a block of land that had a mini ecosystem, that if you and more others continue to eat a lot of babyfood, will in turn mean more babyfood factories that are built on top of mini ecosystems².
And what about paper? If I really care about nature, I should probably stop reading and buying books. And yeah, there are pine plantations specifically for paper, that are planted, grown, cut down and repeat. But then what about the animal life that made those trees their home, which was then destroyed? Being a human is a constant headfuck.
But that’s what us humans are: hypocrites and walking talking contradictions. But we can’t help it. Unless you want to live the sit-don’t move-don’t eat-die life, it’s unavoidable.
The Dalai Lama needs to fly places³. To talk and teach and advise people how to be good people. But besides the pollution from burnt jet fuel, is there a stat for how many birds have been sucked into the engines during all the chartered flights he’s taken?
If you want to live a perfectly moral, ethical and virtuous life, you can’t. And yeah, the Dalai Lama indirectly murders birds and pollutes the planet just by flying places, but he also spreads a message that without, we may’ve already suffocated to death from our own pollution by now, or have collectively burst into flames from the greenhouse effect. So individually, if you want to be a good person, all we can do is this:
1. Don’t intentionally murder anything you don’t need to
2. Do what we can to offset the bad stuff we do with more good stuff we do.
¹ Let me just say first that I’m not even close to living an ethical life. I eat meat, I drive a car, among doing other not good things.
² A counter argument is that it’s the goal of every species to do whatever it takes to make sure its own species survives and replicates, even if at the expense of all others. So if that’s the case, we’re doing an okay job I guess, if not for a lot of pesky environmentalists protecting or at least very much against murdering all the other also-pesky species we have to annoyingly share the planet with.
³ I’m also not a Buddhist. I like some of the stuff that Buddhism is about but I can’t identify with the spiritual side of it and blah blah blah that’s enough about me and this.