I used to be very political and idealist. Women don’t have equality. Nuclear weapons are probably wrong. I shouldn’t be judged for sleeping around if I want to, if men get a certain amount of praise for the same behaviour. No matter what, I’d send my kids to state school. If I discovered that a lot of my university’s research funding came from companies with which I fundamentally disapprove – big pharma, arms dealers, you name it – I would seriously consider my place there. Once I can afford it I will go entirely self-sufficient and have the greenest home, the most ethical clothes, no car. Socialism is the best form of government; we should all share everything and everyone should get the same living wage, because we are all born equal.
In an ideal world, maybe. But ours is not an ideal world. People are selfish, me not least, and there is a place for nuclear weaponry (probably) just as there is good in the big pharmaceutical companies, however much they do that is utterly reprehensible. We cannot share everything because people just don’t work like that, and I am sure as hell not sending my kids to a school where I do not believe that they will be happy purely on point of principle. Women do not have equality but I cannot fight for all women, I can only fight for equality for myself because I am lucky enough to have the luxury of being able to afford to respect myself and stick up for what I believe I deserve in a way that many women do not. And yes, my university is funded by companies whose ethical codes seem like a joke. But if they weren’t, a darn sight less research would be going on in my department and yours. We cannot have everything, ours is a fundamentally selfish world, and yes, it would be wonderful if it wasn’t, but to make this world a better one, human nature would have to undergo some huge and very grassroots changes and that just isn’t going to happen. And the only way to be happy in this world is to accept that and to do the best you can to make life better for yourself and those around you in ways you can make a difference.
So I’ll stick with my inethically-funded university, thanks, because I want a good degree and this is the place to get it; I’ll probably be the one to cut down my work hours or stop working altogether, assuming I get married and have children in a traditional fashion, because I am the mother, I’ll be breastfeeding, I’ll be tired, and I’m not a superhuman, and you’re not either, and so you’re the breadwinner and I will probably keep house because that’s just how the world works, and I’ll try not to let myself get trapped by that but one of us is going to have to stay at home with the kids and it’s probably me; I’ll buy second-hand clothes and furniture and I’ll shop from independent shops and I’ll never leave appliances on standby but I’ll never be the type to live in a solar-powered yurt insulated with yak dung or sheeps wool because that really doesn’t appeal and it’s not worth it unless everyone does it and I want a lovely shiny new kitchen please with marble work surfaces and *sigh* probably an Aga.
No, I’m not selfish, I’m just trying to be realistic, and do the best I can in a world that will never be the ideally green, ethical socialist utopia for which I should probably hope.