LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We should all be water protectors

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.

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Most folks believe they are good and decent people, in fact, most people are; we believe in fairness and equality. We care about our families, neighbors, communities, the environment and our children’s future.

But even good decent people can hold attitudes/beliefs and do things that contradict those values. When that happens, we experience cognitive dissonance -- the feeling we have when our behavior doesn’t match our beliefs/attitudes or when two beliefs/attitudes are in conflict.

It creates this psychological discomfort within us -- which we don’t like -- and we do one of four things to reduce that discomfort: change our behavior; change our attitudes/beliefs; justify our behavior/attitude; or deny information that causes the conflict.

This cognitive dissonance is occurring on a mass scale regarding climate change and social justice.

You see, we know pollution is bad for the water and air and that burning fossil fuel contributes to this. But, we have become comfortable with the convenience so we justify our behaviors, minimize our impact, and vilify others who call for change.


From a psychologist’s perspective, this is understandable and explainable. Again, we want to believe we are good people, we are smart and we do the right things. This is important for our self-esteem and self-concept.

So, when that self-concept of a good person is challenged, we resist change. But, once you see the personal impact climate change can have on us and/or something we really care about, change is possible.

Consider this, consider all the things you love to do and want your children to be able to do also -- and ask yourself would a good person allow that to be harmed or destroyed. Most of us, of course, would say no. Most of us would want to do something to protect those activities and the things we care about.

Well, there is something you can do, you can protect the land and protect the water. You can be a water protector.

If you like fishing, be a water protector; hunting, be a water protector; swimming, be a water protector; canoeing, be a water protector; kayaking, be a water protector; paddle boarding, be a water protector; camping, be a water protector; hiking, be a water protector; biking, be a water protector; drinking beer, be a water protector; gardening, be a water protector; golfing, be a water protector.

Be a good person -- be a water protector!

John Gonzalez, Bemidji, is a professor of psychology at BSU.

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