It is very understandable when we try to justify our actions. We are just trying to protect a particular self image, often as “good”, and to find acceptance from ourselves and others and fit in.
There is fortunately a very simple alternative, and that is to find a fullness of stories around what we initially may wish to justify. And to deliberately include both “good” and “bad” stories in a conventional sense.
Say the stories are about the size of our ecological footprint. It makes all the sense in the world to aim at reducing the size of our ecological footprint individually and collectively, and find ways to do so that are aligned with our values and improves our quality of life. There are many simple and effective ways to do this, there is always further to go, and it can be a great deal of fun as well.
And yet, if we have ideas of perfection, we will always fall short. So it is good to examine these ideas and find a fuller and more realistic and grounded set of stories around it.
Each of our actions have infinite causes – including from the current situation, family, culture, evolved characteristics of our species, the evolution of the earth, and the characteristics and habits of this universe. It is good to acknowledge this. And we can still take full responsibility for our own choices and actions, including how we relate to all of this.
Even if we aim at living in a way that is good for ourselves and the larger whole, there are also drawbacks and unpredictable consequences to each of our choices and actions.
I have chosen to live in another continent than where I was born, which means there are more opportunities for me to explore and be involved in sustainability, but it also means I chose to fly to visit family and friends back there. I eat meat at times, which seem to help my health, and yet I am fully aware of the ecological consequences and the ethical problems around it. I aim at doing my small part in preventing the extinction of species because it is good at a current individual, species, and ecosystems perspective. And yet, I know very well that extinction of species is essential for the evolution of the Earth. It creates room for new species to emerge and flourish, and for Earth, Universe, and existence to explore and experience itself in new ways.
There is no need to justify my actions. But it can be very helpful to explore it through a fullness of stories and perspectives and at different levels. It helps me be more honest with myself, my choices and actions can be a little better informed, and even without aiming for it, it does influence the choices and actions I take.
Trigger: Someone I know who seem a little compulsive in justifying her meat-eating habits, including in slightly one-sided and less-than-honest ways.
- justification and fullness of stories
- no need to justify own actions
- instead, find a fullness of stories around it
- both “good” and “bad” in conventional views
- ex. sustainability, ethics etc.
- each of our actions, understandable, infinite causes
- some, try to live in a way that is good for ourselves/larger social-ecological whole
- but also drawbacks to each actions + unpredictable consequences
- may look quite different from different perspectives and levels (e.g. species extinctions, not good from a current individual/species/ecosystems level, but may be very good in a larger picture, in the evolution of earth as a whole, creates room for new species to emerge and flourish, another way for the earth/universe/existence to explore and experience itself)
And when we realize there is no need for justification, it is very freeing.
Say the stories are about how we live related to sustainability or ethics, for instance the size of our ecological footprint.