Esse Quam Videri

Today it often appears as if everyone seems to be something rather than actually being something. The motto expressed above means “to be rather than to seem” and within that simple concept lies a bottomless pit of hypocrisy. Presidential candidates seem to be interested in the issues, yet waste our time by talking about terrorists from forty years ago nobody cares about and attacking the media as the cause of their intellectual failings. Movie stars appear on Oprah to bask in the glory of having written a children’s books, yet those books are eventually revealed to have been ghostwritten with absolutely no input from the celebrity who harbors no compunction about having his or her name on the cover as author. The problem, of course, is that it is so much easier to seem to be something than to actually be something.

Too many people in this country feel they have done enough to help the environment by signing petitions calling for cleaner air standards or opposing drilling in the Alaskan wilderness. Those are great things, to be sure, but to do so is merely to seem as if you care about the environment unless you back it up with action. If you want to really be someone who cares about the environment then you need to make changes in your lifestyle. The steps you can take to cast off the shackles of seeming to be concerned about the environment and transform into being concerned may not win media time like people who pretend to care, but they are important. These steps include everything from walking instead of using a car to recycling to building your own biodiesel processor.

The thing about being more environmentally active rather than just wearing trendy T-shirts and signing petitions and seeming to appear aware is that in many cases it requires an effort and sacrifice. But what one can learn from refusing to be satisfied with being a poseur instead expending energy on actual action is that you get a sense of well-being and your confidence is increased. Maybe you would rather drive to a club or a store than walk to it or just not go altogether, but when you make that sacrifice and feel that small but important sense of accomplishment it comes with another, perhaps petty but equally inspiring feeling. Knowing that you are acting while others are pretending lends a feeling of something like superiority, but maybe not that harsh. It is perhaps more accurately described as a sense of authority. By being someone who really takes an active role in what is a multi-million part effort, you can confer on yourself a sense of having control that simply cannot be gotten merely by acting the role.

To be is far more satisfying than being content with merely to seem. The good feeling gets transformed into an effort to undertake other changes where you recognize that you are merely seeming to be one way rather than honestly being that way.