Wizardwords Edition 8
Greenwashing, it’s really not our fight, it’s someone else’s.
Sometime after the Assignment (Edition 7.0 Greenwashing is more than brainwashing but so is Blackmail)
Son, how are you today……? (No response)
SON! (wave ..)
Son, what is the matter?
Ok, Dad, I’m pretty upset, if you have to know.
What’s wrong Son, can I help, sometimes it helps to talk about these things. Please tell me what’s wrong.
Well…, I’ve finally got my grade for the presentation I made on Greenwashing.
Oh really! Ok that is news, and …….? (Silent pause)
Dad, I’ll tell you but I don’t want you to get mad or lecture me on working hard for my own good or any of that typical Parent stuff’… OK
Son, just tell me, what did your teacher say about your work…? I can’t imagine that it was bad because I thought that you did a pretty good job … I was impressed, so what did he say, tell me.
My teacher Mr. MacSimmons gave me…. a PASS ……! (silence)
After all of that work, I only got a pass.
He passed me but wrote a long criticism of my argument telling me that I only passed because of the effort I put in but I lost a lot of points because I didn’t speak to the topic …..!
Oh! My poor Son, I’m astonished to hear that, because I thought that you did address the topic and in fact, you went further to develop the issues to make it more relevant and compelling, more current… what could possibly have been the problem with that?
Well here it is, you can read for yourself in his critical notes…
Student Assignment 6/18.5 Greenwashing Teacher’s Notes
The submission mostly missed the point of the assignment which was not to drift off into the state of the world, but rather to focus on the issue of greenwashing and how big corporations are trying to increase profits by telling lies about their environmental footprint.
Even though the initial parts of the Assignment did look at Greenwashing, defining it and noting its effects in general, there were no examples of recognizable brands and the contradictory claims they make. The Assignment was meant to raise awareness amongst students about the fraudulent practices of big corporations in particular and to showcase the difference between their claims and reality.
There are plenty of other student assignments which found and listed these examples and conclusively showed that capitalists push for profit at all and any cost, even if their lies could be easily disproven. It doesn’t matter to them what they destroy so long as they make a profit. Moreover, it should have been noted that there are little or no consequences for these corporations whose false advertising claims proliferate throughout our media-driven lives with no mechanism to stop them or hold them to account.
Your assignment did not treat this issue in any comprehensive way, instead, you went off on an examination of ‘Big Data’ which is another topic entirely and not related to greenwashing. It is for this reason that your grade has been given as PASS. I recommend that you go back and read the passages on the course notes from authors who have written extensively on Greenwashing. The definition of this is as follows; ‘Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound. Greenwashing involves making unsubstantiated claims to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do.’ (What is Greenwashing? How it works, examples, and statistics, Investopedia, Adam Hayes March 2023)
You should also look at the text on Sustainability and the Circular Economy to understand what the real issues are and how they have affected the economy. These are the topics for today.
More stuff like that from the textbook
The importance of this topic to your future as a citizen includes the following issue;
1. The ecological transition can contribute to reducing economic and social inequalities. Environmental policies can be used to redistribute wealth and resources more equitably by ensuring that communities most affected by environmental pollution also reap the benefits of ecological transition.
2. The ecological transition can stimulate economic growth by reducing the long-term costs linked to environmental pollution. Environmental pollution can result in high costs to governments, businesses, and citizens in the form of health, cleanup, and environmental restoration costs. Transitioning and adopting sustainable practices can reduce these long-term costs, which in turn can boost economic growth.
3. Companies should be held to account through increasingly putative legislation so that there are less consequences for the planet and populations by pollution caused by their products. There must be accountability by everyone for their actions and the production of products.
He doesn’t get it and it’s not fair
There it is Dad, Mr MacSimmons doesn’t get any of my arguments and gave me a Pass for effort but nothing for the points I made. The stuff he is writing is confusing, it doesn’t mean anything to me – what does ‘sustainability’ actually mean?
Son, I just don’t understand this, and I think that you are right. It seems that he asking you just to repeat what is written already and doesn’t want to you think for yourself… to really see the truth of what our Society has become I think that he is the one who is missing the point but maybe I can try to understand his argument, maybe there is something in his argument?
What do you mean Dad?
Well, I’ve spent my life thinking that Governments were by and large, for protecting and providing for the citizens. But now I am not so sure.
What do you mean Dad, what’s changed?
Now, as I’m at the end of my career, I see things differently than when I was your age. I can see that big business has largely taken over politics and is pulling the strings - your assignment showed this really well and I learned a lot from your research showing me how it really works. I thought that your analysis of the Big Tobacco scandal and how this is being repeated over and over again, with Big Oil and now Big plastic. It seems that our governments are just vassals of these big money interests. They can’t seem to make any impact on the power that these companies have. You showed me that we are all at their mercy and will be driven to believe what they want us to believe. Its greenwashing and mind control and that is definitely ‘on the topic’, so I don’t agree with your teacher but I can see that the question is too big to tackle with one assignment. It needs to be broken down into manageable bits. The world cannot be changed all at once.
My life in his hands
Well, Dad, that makes me feel a bit better…. But what can I do now, its Mr; MacSimmons who will affect my life and future because he doesn’t like the way I answered his assignment.
Yes, Son, one thing I noticed is that he didn’t say that you were wrong …. Just ‘off-topic’.
True! I guess that is something.
Yes, So maybe you can resubmit a supplementary text that will regurgitate the talking points that he wants to hear. At least then you might get a better grade average so that you can go on to a good University where there might be a bit more room for debate.
OH .;; you mean that I’ve got to redo all of that work.. Dad please, I’m tired of all this and I just don’t want to suck up to him just for a better grade.
Son, sometimes you have to do that in life..; say and write things that you don’t really believe in order to get ahead. Society really doesn’t appreciate people who speak out and ‘rock the boat’.
We are all encouraged at all times to accept the status quo and not stand out above the pack with our performance or our opinions- It’s called the ‘tall Poppy syndrome’.
What does that mean ..; ‘the tall poppy syndrome’.
Well, a farmer is growing poppies in a field and sees that all of the poppies are roughly an even height which is good for his harvester which goes along and cuts off the heads of the poppies. There is one poppy however, just one poppy which is significantly taller than the rest, so he goes over to it and cuts it down because it doesn’t conform. In the farmer’s world, uniformity is harmony, and harmony is easier to control.
The moral is that speaking out and holding opinions out of step with the common opinion will attract too much individual attention and so many will try to destroy the outspoken person so that they will be the same, conform as the ‘average’ opinion - nobody gets ‘too big for their boots’.
So maybe my Son, at this point it’s not smart to be outspoken about the issues you see as the most important. Sometimes you must compromise your conviction for future gains.
But Dad, it’s real, it’s the truth and it’s really happening to us. We are all being manipulated and to write it off as ‘Greenwashing’ is a real cop-out. Nothing will change because no one cares about greenwashing. Nobody is prosecuted for it, it’s just accepted.
I think that you are right my Son and I’m proud of you for finding out all about this disturbing problem. But maybe now is not the right time to make a stand, you know that your teacher has power over your future. So why not give him what he wants and fight the other fight, on another day?
But why should I Dad, he’s wrong. We’re not just brainless consumers who can be exploited, we have a voice.
Yes, Son, but who is listening to our cries?
Looking back, in my day it wasn’t like that
Dad, you’ve got to admit that things have changed over time, things are getting better and the people’s voices are doing something, our protest does something.
Yes I do Son, but I think that it’s not changing fast enough. When I was born in the 60s, the environment was mostly pristine …. You know that the word ‘mostly’ is the important part of that sentence. Now I’m in my 60s I can see that during my lifetime, there has been little regard for our effect on the planet. We were all too busy exploiting everything we could to make as much money as possible and it doesn’t matter how we made it. All of these new things, cars, trucks, trains, plastic packaging, and technology, all that has happened during those 60 years has been without a care and now look at what we have. I think it was John Stuart Mill who said that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Look at all we did for you
What do you mean ‘evil’ Dad?
I read the other day that every person on earth has some really nasty chemicals in their blood that have come from plastic pollution .. that must be an evil act by evil people and it really blows my mind. My generation has made such a mess of the world that it will never fully recover, even if we were to stop now. We knew that this was a problem and did nothing to stop it - that is truly evil.
Dad, I heard a talk on Instagram that supposed that in 500 years, researchers would find a ‘plastic layer’ in the soils around the world. Same in the Oceans, a whole new mass extinction of animals from eating plastic in the sea because plastic waste looks the same as their food.
This is going to hurt
Dad, so what do I do about Mr MacSimmons and my assignment?
Well, Son, you could do nothing and just accept that Pass Grade, as is and move on. (Ha Ha ha..)
I know that I didn’t raise a Son like that, I know that you find it hard to accept and that you don’t want to just repeat his talking points like a parrot. There are bigger eggs to be fried and you’ve shown me that you can really think for yourself. So you’ve got to decide - what now?
It’s up to you because it’s your future you are dealing with, but I think that you should write a supplement and give the teacher what he wants and quote every one of his favorite authors to get a better grade. Once you are on your way to a better forum where dissent and debate are encouraged, then you can speak up. It’s a means to an end, and live to fight another day… like Bond 007.
OK Dad it’s going to hurt if I’ve got to swallow my principles and suppress what I really think in order to please a teacher on a power crusade, but I guess that you’ve made your point…. My fight is not with him because even though he controls my immediate future, he is nothing in the global view of the issues. He is a fixed point in time that will be over soon and superseded by the wave of public opinion as it develops around the future we want rather than the future we get from complacency.
Quite right Son, I could not have put it better myself. If you can really do that and get a better grade from your teacher then you are well on the way to be not just a man, but a Social warrior on the causes which matters to you. Mainly because you have developed the judgment to choose your fights, and that means that you will win more than you lose.
Get ready to fight cause we didn’t
Remember the words of Genghis Chan the Mongol emperor. “The war is not won by the biggest army or the best-prepared army, but by the army with the best strategy.”
Dad, I don’t see why at my age I should have to be preparing for a fight, I’m just a kid who wants to hang out with my friends and graduate.
I’m sorry to say that it’s my generation that has pretty much deleted that possibility for your generation, you will indeed have to fight the fight that we didn’t. We couldn’t do it we didn’t even try; we couldn’t stop the destruction of our world by the waste from things we produced. We were too busy gouging on the fruits to really care about what happens next. It is now up to you Son and I’m ashamed about that.
Dad, I know that it wasn’t you ..; it was Society, Governments, and Corporations, they are responsible.
It was also Me my Son. Did I do all that I could to inform myself? I didn’t change all of the things I was doing, I was buying. I didn’t encourage others to change their habits. I don’t think that I did enough… knowing what I know. I’m as guilty as anyone, and all I can do now is hand the problem over to you to solve. It seems so shameful that I almost feel like a criminal, at the very least, a vandal.
Before I was upset at my teacher, but now Dad after what you said, I’m depressed.
Son, don’t be sad, be energized, be determined, and if it seems right even a little angry. You’ll need all of your passion and emotions to do the things that you’ll have to do throughout your life. When you are 60 years old like me, my hope is that you don’t have as many regrets as I do. I hope that you can look back and say that: “I did everything I could do” and that your children don’t look at you in despair as you are looking at me now. That is the unbearable pain that makes my shame so personal.
Because my Dad and my Dad’s Dad said it was so
Son, do you remember that I told you about my Dad, your granddad Reginald, who sat me down and talked about his life legacy? He started with the time that his Dad, your great-granddad Archibald, talked to him about the same thing. Great-granddad Archie apologized for the consequences of the Great war which ended in 1917, about the devastation and death which had implications throughout the life of his Son Reggie, your granddad. He said that no one realized at the time that fighting this war would be so terrible and so wrong. He apologized to his son for the ignorance and carelessness of his generation to have done such a thing. He said only that they didn’t know any better and that they were sure that they didn’t have any other choice.
I didn’t know that Dad.
Well, Son, when my Dad sat down with me, he said no such thing, he said that his generation was not ignorant like his father’s generation. They had already seen and experienced death and destruction and still, they went into World War 2. He said with an audible sadness and guilt in his voice that his generation we so twisted by the traumas of the first world war that it felt right to fight the Second. He said that there was no choice and that the aggression had to be rebutted and resisted at any cost. At the end, there was a legacy that hung over the world which was a lack of regard for anything or anyone- ‘Take what you want and eliminate anyone who gets in the way’. It was difficult for your Grandad Reggie to explain to me the regrets he had because he was so conflicted between fighting against the rise of fascism and what it was doing to us all and to the world we live in. He could not tell me really how much it affected him and his generation, but he was sure that he needed to pass on the regrets from Great grandad and from his generation and the conviction that it should never happen again.
Regrets, I’ve had a few, didn’t pay my dues either
Dad, you’re really freaking me out now, what’s that got to do with me?
So, now as your Dad, I’ve seen the wrongs and the regrets of your Great-granddad and your Grandad, and now it’s me that has to reflect. My regrets are that the war I have avoided fighting is the war of the time just like my dad and his dad did. The real difference between my war and theirs is that they did not have a choice whereas I do. What is worse is that the war that I didn’t fight will probably be more destructive and kill more people and animals than both of the world wars put together. The war on plastic waste is a real thing, I know that now and maybe I always did. I thought “what’s it got to do with me” because it was just the way things are - It is up to our leaders to change things and to put us on the right course. That is so wrong, it’s really not up to them, they can’t do what we will not. We get the leaders we deserve. We get the life we deserve and must face the reality in the end. If we want good leaders and do the hard things, then we must believe and fight for the right things even if they are hard. Elect leaders who also believe and fight for what is right. Conforming is not fighting.
Lead or follow, it’s yours to choose
You can be a leader if you will accept to lead, and you cannot lead by conforming. So, while you are choosing your fights, remember Archie and Reggie who couldn’t choose their fight, they had to conform to the reality of their time. So, fight the fight that you can win by strategy and strength my Son. Do your Supplementary and make it a lesson in leadership that there is a place for patience and compliance and there is a time for rebellion and resistance. I believe in you and the fight that you choose.
Dad, I love you and I thank you for being so honest and so open with me. I will do my best
Thank you, Son, I love you too very much. I know you will.