What if you woke up one day and found that this, or any, site you read had undergone a for-profit makeover? Being that it would have to be something very subtle, in order to establish continuity with the day before but represent a turn toward selling you something, would you/we even notice? You’d think, sure. But a better question might be, how would we notice? Of course, you would expect there to be tell-tale signs – more ads, maybe a flashier graphic or a graphic flash file to get things going right at the top (wow, a flash header – why didn’t I think of that?) The point being that the site would want you to know, because of course, we’re reassured by the profit motive – it’s the last honest and pure thing we’ve got.
Worry not. I have not yet begun to sell out. At least not yet. I only thought back around to this upon being pointed to this site (thanks, Ben), which to me seems like a full-throated expectation of (still) being able to sell green living. It’s an excellent idea and I’m as encouraged by it as I’m surprised we’re still right there. I guess since there is no viable internet business model, maybe that’s what all of this amounts to. But at its heart I don’t really believe that. Not yet. At this point the medium seems less than useful for that one sacred mission, and so of course seems of great utility. We can expect this ratio to diminish along such an inverse relational plane, but only to give way to another new one or return us to a renewed emphasis on an old one.
But… the continued optimism about what we can sell goes quite a bit beyond earning a living and circles back on us when it comes to sustainability, as in the way we think about a more ostensibly altruistic goal, like saving the whales. We could and perhaps should reflect on this not as a selfless extention of human empathy for a fellow creature, per se, but a rather direct notion toward saving ourselves. This extends to the oceans, all water, all land, then the air… the ocean within the fish, as they say. All routes to self-preservation, expressed through a more urgent concern for a more directly endangered entity. Endangered by us to be sure; but marked in a but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-we kind of way that we understand better than we let on. Maybe it’s the shroud of inevitability that we just can’t shake, that hasn’t worked its way up to profit making, but once it does and that comes to be percieved as clearly endangered as it surely is today, most of our efficiency and sustainability initiatives will become finally and absolutely mandatory. The we’ll really have something to sell. What a day of strange rejoicing that will be.