Stuck in the Middle – Recycled Centrism


The more we recycle, the more we learn is not suitable for the blue bin.  My city posts billboards reminding us what NOT to put in to the blue bin.  It is discouraging and frustrating to learn that many things that are recyclable are not accepted because the machines that sort the recycled items can’t handle them – anything black because it blends in with the conveyor belt, no loose plastic such as the many bags our food comes in because it jams up the belt, etc.  So where the blue bin used to be full and the other bin one small bag, now they are evening out because western corporate-driven efficiencies reject much of what is recyclable, and we think that the job of sorting garbage should not be done by human beings.

I was whining about this to my sister who had watched a show featuring some environmentalist/recycling expert who said they would rather people got it 30% wrong than not trying at all.

I use this example to talk about the actual difficult subject of the day – George Floyd and his supporters.

As I read other posts I see that people who are concerned enough to write about it are not Liked as usual by their followers.  Comments run along the lines of “Thanks for sharing!”, implicitly not agreeing with whatever was said.  Other posters talk about other things in an attempt at apolitical correctness. My very well-informed and politically and socially sensitive adult kid lost followers after making a supportive post on Instagram, people known through school and work. Weird Venn diagrams showing ultimately no opinion – literally centrist “Me” in the middle – have circulated the internet, posted by people who apparently want to say something but can’t figure out what they want to say.

Even after the past several years of official racism, sexism, classism, right-wing Christian evangelical fanaticism, it seems strange that many are sitting on the fence about George Floyd and the riots.  Maybe because many of us know or are related to police officers; many of us have never had a “bad” experience with the law and look to it to protect us; many of us have not known a person-of-color very well and have no clue as to the daily struggles of trying to function in a world of prejudice; maybe we haven’t watched any Spike Lee films.

Once again, the world created by Donald Trump finds yet another way to divide us.  Make your feelings known about someone dying while in custody of the law and you somehow risk the anger and rejection of people you thought you knew.  In the early Trump days, we learned how to feel people out so as not to cause a rift at a social gathering, though we might have decided not to socialize with those people again.  It seems there is no end to the new issues that arise in this dystopian universe.  First we learned not to discuss dairy products, then plastic vs paper bags; then whether poor people should get medical care and should rich people pay more taxes.  Even COVID has detractors and you never know which one of your friends doesn’t believe it’s a thing.

This latest issue has the added danger of people not talking about it until it goes away, as it has in the past.  There is something so hideous about it that anything we say can be taken as the wrong thing to say.  But we need to keep saying it, whether we are clumsy and uninformed allies, people who have been abused and mistreated by the system, or just people who don’t really know how they feel.  It’s hard not to react to the “Me” in the middle but we shouldn’t discourage them from saying everything – only 30% of it may be wrong.




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