Friday, October 26, 2012

The More You Know...

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Mahatma Gandhi

Photo: http://www.charitywater.org

Sooo this post is going to be a little weird. And possibly random. And it starts with a visit to a wastewater treatment plant.

Still there? Nice! Here's a little backstory: my Senior Seminar professor asked me to take on an independent research project that requires sifting through/reading A LOT of scientific studies, then compiling the data in a review paper (basically a summary of all the findings). I won't bore you with the details, but our local wastewater treatment facility is worried that an herbicide they have to use is hurting or killing the beneficial microbes the plant relies on to purify the water.

In order to gain a better understanding of the process and meet the amazing people who insure we have clean water, my professor and I took a tour of the plant. Again, I won't bore you with the details. But I will tell you this: we are really, really fortunate to live in a country whose citizens have access to clean water and indoor plumbing.  These people work night and day to ensure our safety and preserve our environment.

Too soapboxy? Sorry. I have a point...and it is this: knowing more makes us more socially responsible. Will I think twice before throwing something down the toilet? You bet. Will I think about those hard working people when I drink tap water? Definitely.

Photo: greencycle.net
The problem is, knowing the truth about things and how they work makes us uncomfortable. We all know where meat comes from, but we don't like to know how it gets from the feedlot to our dinner plates. We flush our toilets and turn on our faucets, but we don't particularly care to know where that water comes from or how it got there. We groan about the cost of organic produce, but do we really, truly know what it takes for those carrots to win that "organically grown" tag? Not really.

I watched Fast Food Nation four years ago. Although it is fictionalized, it shows the darker side of the beef industry and contains actual footage from a slaughterhouse. I can count the number of times I've eaten beef since then on one hand. But I'm better for having seen it.

Photo: aspca.org
I sometimes change the channel when ASPCA commercials come on. I admit it. We've adopted from the Humane Society...I know what horrible people can do to animals. I just don't want the heartache. The African babies with distended bellies? Too depressing. I care about these things, but having to face them head on is unpleasant. Yeah, well, that's life. The fact is, I can't call myself an informed citizen or possess opinions on certain subjects if I know nothing about them and still fail to educate myself. Sometimes my perspective is completely changed. Sometimes life goes on and I give it little thought after a few days. Either way, I can't regret obtaining knowledge.

Over the last few months, I've nearly un-friended a chunk of my Facebook friends. Since when is FB a political minefield anyway? I thought we were supposed to use it to talk about funny stuff our kids do and to let people know when your car breaks down or your coffee spills on your lap. Instead, it's "I hate [fill in the blank]"; "Dear Mr. President, it's all your fault"; "Romney is a poopyhead", etc. I don't mind differing political beliefs. In fact, my husband and I are on differing political spectrums. My issue is that it has become a place to air one's grievances without anything to back them up. I respect a well made point, a supported argument, and rational thinking...even if I don't feel the same way. But to write a never ending post about foreign policy when they've clearly never even read a news article pertaining to the subject just makes them look ignorant. Information is power, folks.

Holy digression, Batman! In the end, I realized today how little I know about so many things I take for granted everyday. But that's not who I aim to be. I can't call myself enlightened when I look at the world around me impassively. There should be a question mark after everything, and I resolve to do just that. And I ask a lot of questions as is...my husband will vouch for that. Complacency in any area of life is a bummer. Writing a check to St. Jude's then letting myself off the hook isn't cool. What if that was my sick kiddo needing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lifesaving treatments?

Here are some documentaries that I've either seen or are on the top of my list. All of these are enlightening, but pretty painless:

  • Tapped (about the privatization of water and its global impact)
  • King Corn (a light-hearted documentary about corn and government crop subsidizing...I watched it in a class and learned a lot...corn is in everything!)
  • Food, Inc. (a great documentary about food...no scary scenes)
  • Food Matters (this one is about food and our health...it really made me stop and think about some things, less about others, but it is well made and worth watching)
  • Forks Over Knives (I've heard great things about this one. It's at the top of my Netflix queue)
  • An Inconvenient Truth (super interesting)
  • Sicko (okay, so people tend to either love or hate Michael Moore...I don't feel either way [I haven't seen all of his documentaries], but I found this to be a really interesting film)
  • Inside Job (a couple of the stock market shenanigans are hard to follow, but this movie opened my eyes a lot...it's well done; we watched it in one of my classes and I didn't want to turn it off and wait until the next class to finish)
If you have any additional movie/documentary suggestions, share! I'd love to know what you found interesting and enlightening.


Was that better or worse than you were expecting? I'm not sure either. But we're still friends, right? Just so you know that it's me and my blog has not been hijacked, I'll leave you with this:


Holy moly! That monkey is sitting like a little man!

2 comments:

  1. I totally complain about the cost of organic food, but I'm so thankful that there are farmers out there who are farming this way so we can have healthier produce and meat. Thanks for the reminder! And the monkey picture :)

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  2. Thanks for stopping by, Claire! I have never written a post quite like this, but it was what I was feeling at the time. If my blog is going to be authentic, it's going to get deep once in a while.

    I feel the same way about organic food. I appreciate it, but often get caught up in the price and forget what those farmers go through.

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