Madison Underwood and I were accused of that in October by someone who took issue with our cover story regarding the goals of the Birmingham Charter sustainability movement.
First, Iíve worked too many crappy jobs ó including gardener, house cleaner, office temp, cannery worker, secret shopper, telephone solicitor and construction laborer -- to qualify as a true ďivory tower liberal.Ē
Second, Iím once again living in East Lake, the working-class neighborhood where I grew up. I donít know if youíve been there, but I can assure you that we don't have any ivory towers.
There were no ivory towers there when I was a kid, either, when my mom and late father, who grew up during the Depression, taught me to value a dollar, eat everything on my plate, live within my means and appreciate the beauty of Godís Creation.
Thereís one other problem with that ďivory tower liberalĒ label. Iím not a liberal. Of course, Iím not a conservative, either. Iím not left-wing and Iím not right-wing. I am neither Democrat nor Republican. I donít watch MSDNC, uh, excuse me, MSNBC ó well, except for occasionally checking out Rachel Maddow, who may be a lesbian but is cuter than a bugís butt. I also avoid those shills at Fox News, except maybe Shepard Smith, who isn't so cute but is a decent news reader.
You might say Iím in the radical middle, a social and political agnostic.
Iíve also never been a joiner ó of clubs, cliques or movements. Thatís probably why Iím reluctant to label myself an ďenvironmentalist."
But I am striving to think and act more "green" (an admittedly overused word). What does it mean to be green? For me, in the simplest possible terms, it means that I should become more aware of my impact on the earth and to strive to gradually reduce that impact. I turn down my heat. I wash my clothes in cold water. I recycle. In short, I try to do all of those things, or at least most of those things, that we tell you guys to do every week in those damned "green tips."
Now, I am not perfect, far from it ó especially since I drive an old GMC pick-up truck that, I'm sure, gets crappy mileage. Hey, I needed a car. I couldn't afford to buy one. Somebody gave me the truck. So I drive it. When I eventually move to a city with a decent transit system I will, more than likely, no longer own a car at all. And in my defense, I often ride the bus from East Lake to downtown.
My point is that I am trying my best to educate myself about the environment and to do my part to take care of this planet that we call home.
By the way, I donít use the phrase ďsave the planet.Ē Thatís bullshit. The planet doesnít need us to save it. The earth will be here after we're long gone, even if the Iranians and Israelis and Indians and Pakistanis and North Koreans start shooting off nukes all at once like crazy. What human beings are really trying to do is to save themselves, or at least make sure that future generations do not have to pay the economic and ecological consequences of our unchecked greed and other appetites.
We breathe the air. We drink the water. We grow our food in the ground. We take fish from the seas. If we pollute everything, we're screwed. If we use up all of our resources, we're screwed. Itís that simple. And it wonít kill anybody to make a few small sacrifices and live more sustainably.
We need jobs, of course. We must create wealth. We can't all live in poverty or move to hippy communes. But we donít have to. In fact, one of the great opportunities for economic growth in the 21st century will be in the area of green technology, particularly in the energy field. And there is no reason that the U.S. should not continue to be a world leader in technological innovation, green or otherwise, and to enjoy the economic and strategic benefits that come with that leadership.
In short, in the coming century, at some basic, common-sense level, we will all be more green. We will have to be.
Jesse Chambers is special projects editor of the Birmingham Weekly. Send your feedback to email@example.com.