This Featured picture by Photographer Scott Norris represents an old Chinese saying. It refers to the three monkeys of their divine pantheon. It means that to ignore and refuse to acknowledge evil deliberately is to be a part of it. As individuals, we find ourselves sometimes blinded, deaf or speechless in regards to evil; but it is not necessarily the people’s fault. Through the studies of pop culture, food and violence, I have changed my perspective on the actual power we have as individuals. Shakespeare’s words “All the world’s a stage” have resonated in my mind during this course. However, where he describes us as actors, I think we may sometimes be mere spectators, perceiving what the spectacle has to offer. We only see what we are shown and only hear what we are told, therefore in this class I have come to notice that we don’t always see what’s behind the curtain.
Take a simple example. It’s a Sunday afternoon and you’re organizing a grill. You drive down to your local supermarket and walk down the meat section, checking through the variety. You find a steak that is USDA Approved, natural and most of all: Organic. You make your way You continue passing through the isles and find the condiments.
You pick up a certain barbecue sauce since the label seems to show it’s healthy. You get soda because the kids begged you to, but you make sure to buy the diet ones for their good. You go home satisfied and eat a healthy meal.
Well.. you can’t be so certain, and it’s not your fault. Your selection was based on what you know is best. Even as intellectual people, we see only what the spotlight shows us.
For instance, we often forget that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s first duty is towards the farmers and not the consumers. This creates a grey area that confuses the buyer. The truth is, organic sells but it doesn’t mean much (Henry). For example it isn’t necessarily pesticide free and is still mostly factory made. In other words, the cattle probably went through torturous steps before becoming food. The farmer isn’t fully responsible either, because it’s the only way he can compete in the market and make a living. What you might not know about your fat free barbecue sauce is that by itself, it’s already more than half your recommended daily intake (16g vs 25-37g) (Gunnars). The reason you’re not aware is because corporations have made it so. Through laws and regulations, they have made the backstage dark. Imagine seeing that just the sauce was already 60% of your sugar or that a simple candy bar was a whopping 200%. Finally your choice of diet actually contributes to fat storage due to the artificial sweeteners, rather than reducing it like you planned (Squillace).
After your delicious meal, you sit down on your couch and turn on the news. I am the first in agreeing that being aware of issues around the world and especially domestically is essential. Awareness and culture are two indispensable things people should have. You watch a few minutes and turn on the volume as breaking news comes on. There was a school shooting somewhere in the US and they are giving an inside look into the killer’s life similar to what there was for Columbine.
His manifesto explains a lot and groups divide in terms of explaining the cause, often between gun availability and mental illness. You may side with one or the other. However, these causes seem sufficient and you might not think deeper into it. What if I told you the fact that the killer’s face is being displayed by the news broadcast on millions of TVs is the reason he did it in the first place (Healy). Isn’t that a plot twist? It’s easier to blame guns or mental illness, but there is proof that countries with more of both still don’t have as many catastrophes. The US has 5% of the world’s population but 31% of the world’s mass shootings (Basu) and it’s mind blowing. We don’t hear much about these peoples’ feelings of exclusion or insecurities turning into narcissism which is why we don’t change it. A lot of them admit they want fame and want to be remembered. After all, fame for the sake of being famous has become the dominant goal of this generation’s teenagers (Uhls and Greenfield). We mustn’t forget that the media corporations make hundreds of millions of dollars every year selling news. And not much attention is paid towards the consequences of what they show.
There may be much more to your typical Sunday than you may think. As members of society, we play our part in helping the system function. On an individual scale we don’t really grasp the results of our small actions on the bigger scale.”Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil”. However, by buying that factory farmed steak instead of a local small farm one, not only do we participate in animal abuse and massive pollution but we keep them ‘alive’. By watching the news and accepting it the way it is, we deprive ourselves of our ability to think critically. Whether or not we realize, we are actively contributing to a system that is wrong and unsustainable. However, we can’t fully point our fingers to the farmers and the broadcasters or to the heads of the big corporations. Even though the impact may be stronger, they do their part just like we do. The real problem is what has been built by all of us as a society; This power given to the corporations of all types. What I have honestly realized in this English course is that we must all do our part in becoming aware and raising awareness around us. Otherwise, the show may end up running itself.