“Why does “I” come before “U” in the alphabet?”
In today’s society, we are so driven by first world problems, technology, and ignorance that we are unaware of our inability to appreciate the valuable things in life and focus on the problems that really need our attention.The consumer culture that we have developed into has made us unaware of the global problems that plague our world. Because we are consumed with buying the new iPhone or reading the latest Tweet, we don’t take the time out of our lives to focus on the issues such as: poverty, politics, academics, or sustainability. These are topics that need our attention the most because they will determine how we live our lives in the next fifty years.
Awareness is a topic in my Critical Thinking and Writing course that has really caught my attention because some of us choose to not be aware. We choose to be stereotypes. The graduation speech, “This is Water” captures this concept clearly because we tend to focus on our first world problems. These problems include getting over a breakup, preparing to study for a final, or having to do the dishes. Although most of the middle class lives a life of boredom, routine and petty frustration, we are neither starving, dying, nor at war. We complain how we have to take finals and how our internet is slow, but we never appreciate any of those things. We never realize how fortunate we are. Ignorance creates such a dilemma. We don’t know what is happening half way across the globe. We “know” that people in some parts of Africa and Southeast Asia are poor, but we really don’t know their pain and suffering. We can only imagine what is going on. Awareness is a choice that we all have in life and it is a choice that governs our options and outlooks on other people. We could be a the grocery store and complain about how long the line instead of consciously understanding that other people might have problems far greater than our own.
From the work “Eating Animals”, I learned that there are people out there that are living lives of suffering and pain. The living conditions that the animals endure are far from the conditions that we imagine. Our food does not come from a conventionally red farm with farmer Bill and his wife. Our farms are factories that mass produce our food similar to the factories that produce our automobiles. We decide what we eat and how big of an impact that we make on these creatures. I am not arguing everyone to go vegetarian, but rather to get investigating. There is a reason why some foods are more expensive than others. We pay for the quality of life that the animal has lived. Basic Economics tells us that cheap food was produced at a low production price. Factories like “Foster Farms” maximize their profits by reducing their expenses, which normally comes with providing their animals with poor living conditions. These animals are the what we serve our children at dinner. The author of Eating Animals presented his ideas in a manner where he was not accusing his audience, but rather he was guilt tripping them in an effort to make them realize that all of their choices have consequences. Being aware of our food and deciding to make a conscience effort to investigate where our food comes from is all it takes.
The idea of putting our needs in front of others is extremely applicable to the environment. We use paper as it were an infinite source. We have a general concept that there are animals going extinct, but we never motivate ourselves to speak up and voice our opinions. In order to conserve the trees and keystones species, we need to be aware of the general problem at hand and we need to act accordingly. When brainstorming for my first paper in CTW, one of my ideas concerned itself over sustainability. This paper did not address the many problems that we are creating for the Earth, but instead a message addressing people to be aware of the their choices. Similar to choosing what we eat, we also have a choice when it comes to sustainability.
The concept of capturing ones attention in the hopes of rising awareness though images is a practice that this course has taught me. The book “The Medium is the Massage” is literally filled with images that captivate the reader in everyday. The author explains his ideas in short paragraphs, but he places a greater emphasis on his pictures. The pictures in this book allow readers to “brainstorm” their own opinion on what they think the author is trying to say. Such mentally stimulating graphics provide ideas and concept that the reader can understand on his own without subtitles or explanations. In my Jazz paper, “All of Me”, I decided to include images that not only allowed me to reach the required amount of pages, but that also caught the readers attention. I did not just google jazz musicians and place the first pictures on my paper, but instead I connected every song album cover that described the following paragraph.
We do not take the time in our busy life to take a step back and say “wow, thank you”. We see homeless people almost everyday if we live by a huge city, but we rarely take the time to help them out. We “assume” that they are going to use our money for alcohol and cigarettes. That’s what we make ourselves believe. Much like the story of the “Hunger Artist“, we assume someone’s position. We can never truly express empathy because of where we, the middle and upper class, stand. The picture of the garbage can depicted as a meal plate is extremely moving because it captures what homeless people actually eat. They are forced to consume this because they have nothing else. When we see someone on the street, we immediately devalue them by the type of clothes they were, or by the type of car that they wear. Deep down we have no idea what these people are going through. My Jazz paper has helped me understand that there are musicians that just don’t get music. They are unable to be musically talented. They put in the work and the effort, but they do not understand how to solo. I should not be so critical of them during practice because I need to be aware that some people learn at different speeds. Empathy is a value that is needed when it comes to these situations.
We view the world from an ignorant standpoint because we decide to put our needs and desires above everyone else. Little do we know that everyone else might have it worse off. I believe that we even though we each have our problems and issues, that we choose to be aware of our blessings in life. We can choose to be happy and we can decide to dedicate our lives to the problems in the world that really need our help. Instead of disclosing those around us and assuming a picture of them; why don’t we reach out? Do we really need that extra paper when drying our hands? Instead of saying “let’s go green”, lets actually go green and not just preach sustainable actions, but actually practice them. Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life. The choice is yours, so choose wisely.