Dear Inquisitive Stranger,
There has a been a complaint!
I stand accused of seeing our colourful world in black and white.
Your Honour, enter a guilty plea, for it is true, regarding environmental matters, I have an annoyingly extravagant tendency to polarise my beliefs.
I hope any posthumous description of me will be littered with soupy adjectives like ’open-minded’ and ‘curious’, yet I acknowledge the probability that the life chronicles will document my donkey stubbornness.
So what inspires this obstinate attitude when the rest of the day I’m totally chilled if the toilet seat is left up?
My propensity to dichotomize debate is in reaction to the treatment of our planet and all her living inhabitants. Treat them nice or feel the gravitas of an inflexible opinion. It bends as suppily as a steel rod in a Bikram yoga class.
Sitting in ‘Daerim Warehouse Gallery’, life is good….but there is a blip of trouble on the horizon. The Earl Grey gin and tonic is just the right accessory for a Tuesday afternoon. The hint of Twinings is up to snuff, the glass is generous in its tallness, the ice is frozen into an appropriately solid state but this cocktail encounter is bruised with guilt.
Like a periscope rising from the smoky tipple, the plastic straw stands erect, proud and is a source of irritation. It stimulates a conversation with my companion about the introduction of a ban on the sale of single-use plastics by some governments and cities. Hear hear! Great news. So my face registers surprise when my fellow environmental champion-in-arms petitions I consider every side of the story before declaring war on plastic straws.
Eh? No way! Ban those plastic bastards. Rid landfill and oceans of them. I find no middle ground here and my world shrinks to only black and white, right and wrong.
My companion calmly requests I consider alternatives like enforced recycling, better education and litter bans. My response is instinctive, swift and condemning. Plastic straws are the baddies. A recycling swot team is not going to eradicate them. We have reached an impasse.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
Uh oh! Hear the bigot bell toll.
With each defiant shake of my head, the hammer selfishly beats out: Me! Me! Me!
When did my opinion become over-simplified and non-negotiable? I have devalued a contradictory viewpoint because I am obtuse in recognising the complexities of modern environmental issues.
High above from a poster on the exhibition wall, the uncompromising glare of the undead priest bears down upon me. Ivan Isaacs, protagonist of the ‘Priest’ graphic novels, sold his soul to a demon in order to battle evil. The blurred struggle defining his actions is a reminder we are not 2 dimensional characters easily labeled right or wrong, good or bad. Each of us possess a multi-faceted personality panorama shaped by values and experience.
Another popular-culture character neatly summed up how actions cannot be polarised to the categories of love or fear. Asked to pigeonhole a behavioural response, Donnie Darko declares, “You can’t lump things in 2 categories. There are other things that need to be taken into account like the whole spectrum of human emotions”.
Of course, Donnie made this observation long before ‘Lord of the Rings’ had premiered in cinemas, therefore had yet to witness the bad guy robes and sinister values of the Ringwraiths. Those guys galloped around Middle Earth picking fights or spreading fear and foreboding like spiders in the bathtub of an arachnophobic. Maybe these menacing witch-kings were motivated to be bad boys due to reasons we cannot comprehend.
Or maybe they were sore about the billions of plastic straws being dumped in the oceans each year.
So my dear Stranger, before we uncompromisingly dish out the goodie/baddie labels, we must practice contemplation. Philosopher Jacques Derrida proposed opposing ideas are both worthy of attention, therefore we must be mindful not to rush to conclusions without getting curious about the other side of the debate. Afterall, nosediving to an extreme can be quite unbecoming.
On that note, I shall investigate all the ways we can tackle this plastic straw problem. Between the black and white viewpoints, we should linger to consider all the shades of grey. There must be at least 50 of them.
Peace, love and cha cha cha.
Daerim Warehouse Gallery – no plastic straws were harmed in the making of this cafe
2 Seongsu-ro 78, Seongdong-gu , Seoul
Seongsu Station, line 2, exit 3
Monday – Sunday 11:00 – 23:00
Hello! This hand written letter was released at ‘Daerim Warehouse Gallery’ for a stranger to find and hopefully enjoy.
If you were that person, I would love to hear your thoughts about straws, tea-based cocktails or fantastic ideas to keep our lovely planet green and lovely.
Maybe you did not find the letter but the contents got you thinking about your plastic straw consumption. I would love to hear from you too.