Ever have someone tell you that we're all just as responsible for environmental damage, because we use oil from the ground and wood from clearcut forests? I keep hearing this from time to time. The problem is, it's complete bullshit.
I didn't choose to live this way. If you're reading this, you probably didn't either. I've tried to live in a different way. And I mean radically different, separate from the industrial economy. Then I encountered a series of problems: legal, logistical, social, and corporate. Corporations, for instance, own most of the land in this country. That makes it hard to find a place to set up camp. Laws exist to keep people from living without a house, even if you actually have one and they just don't like it (because you made it yourself and it doesn't require you to contribute to the economy). And very few towns are set up with the intent of making it easy for someone to get around without an automobile.
We're also duped into thinking that expensive schooling is the only way to get educated (or a valid way at all), putting us into debt, which requires us to work, which means we need an address, a car, insurance for the house and car, debt from the car, etc. etc. Considering that a lot of our impact environmentally is from food (i.e. the stuff that you need to live), it's hard to fault a family of four with parents working wage slave jobs for not always buying their food from the local organic farmer who doesn't use artificial fertilizer. Even I'm not able to abstain from oil-related commerce, and I'm considered pretty handy in the wilderness and garden. I've had friends who lasted for a while living off the land, and without already having funds you have to resort to skirting the law (read: without being well-off to begin with, it's too damned expensive to be poor). They're all eventually forced back into civilized society, usually because of laws. They tried to live another way. Our culture hates that.
Like so many situations in our abusive culture, the model of abuse and victim blaming is replicated: Blaming the average citizen for being in the situation they don't like and didn't choose (but maybe thought they did) is like blaming a dependent housewife with a controlling husband for staying with him. She could leave him if he's violent or otherwise abusive, but the deck is stacked against her.
That's not to say that citizens aren't ever responsible; plenty of people go on and use plenty more energy and oil products than they need to, fully aware of the impacts. They definitely share at least a bit of blame. But the real people at fault, the real enemies (yes, enemies) are the people who think they own everything and are calling the shots. It's the people sitting in offices trying to control the world and using everyone else as resources and pawns. They set the system up so that we need to buy their products, to buy into the system.
Blaming everyone for the damages of this culture is pretty damned racist and classist. It's the same old "we're all one" bullshit that white, New-Agey peaceniks always spout to cover up their race and class based privilege. It's the pretension of saying that because you're not personally racist (always debateable) that you don't contribute to racial inequality.(Here's a clue folks: simply saying we're the same isn't going to help make us all equal, no matter how much your guru says the law of attraction can fix the world). It lets yuppies ignore that not everyone can shop at WholePaycheck to buy supposedly non-poisoned food, or have easily accessed public libraries to bring their kids to (or themselves).
Until we ditch this habit of activists, especially those of the armchair variety, innappropriately/disproportionately pinning blame on victims, we aren't going to see any useful action. Useful action springs from correct philosophy and analysis. We're unlikely to see the average Jane and Joe on the street digging deep at the roots until the shared story of our culture is no longer the one perpetuated by mass media and public
I'm not holding my breath.