A world worth fighting for // Paul Ahrens

Right now, we live in a remarkable world of science and technology. It builds the backbone for so many things that have become an integral part of our daily lives. The digital cloud organizes our media, our smartphones perform so much more than calling, and even the simplest clock can have extremely precise time. What do these devices and services all have in common?

They need information in order to function properly.

If a newspaper is writing a story on a spreading disease, they conduct interviews, research, and polls in an attempt to be informed regarding the issue. Likewise, a phone needs to be on a network in order to receive calls, the cloud needs a method to store all the information it is given, and the clock requires the user to occasionally set the time. If any one of these items does not get the proper information, it usually does not end up working correctly. We, as humans, are very similar to technology in this regard. We tend to act on certain issues when were are informed about them. Otherwise, like technology, we can sometimes fail to act and look towards others with authority on the issues to solve the problems for us.

Unfortunately, those with authority on the issues do not always have our best interests in mind. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) found “that eating about 1.75 ounces of processed meat daily was associated with an added lifetime risk of colorectal cancer of roughly 18%” (How Much Should). Additionally, they classified processed meats as a Group One carcinogen, which also includes tobacco and asbestos (Kluger). While government avocation for the quitting of tobacco is prevalent on many media platforms, their response to the WHO findings has been limited barely a paragraph in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Purdy). This is due in large part to the cozy relationship the government has with the meat industry; rather than protect the consumers and help them be aware of the findings, the government has chosen to downplay their significance.

Additionally, people are largely unaware of the violence prevalent in the meat industry. Three years ago, a Rolling Stone Magazine cover article detailed the horrific conditions which employees and animals face in the factory farms. A female worker was described as having nine-hour shifts in a Wyoming barn full of “10,000 pigs in close quarters,” while enduring “the stench of [pig] shit, piled three feet high in the slanted trenches below; the blood on sows’ snouts cut by cages so tight they can’t turn around or lie sideways, [and] the racking cries of broken-legged pigs, hauled into alleys by dead-eyed workers and left there to die of exposure” (Solotaroff). These abuses, along with many other cases that brave individuals have uncovered over the years, are often shielded from the public eye by the meat industry due to its influence in the media, in the government, and on its consumers.

From a young age, we are often taught that actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, when confronted with the choice between action and inaction, many choose to not act. This is incredibly problematic in our world today; despite the great advances we have made, there are still so many problems to confront. This issue largely stems from a lack of awareness regarding the depth to which certain issues impact our world. One may be aware of the scientific consensus on global warming, but that same individual may not be aware of the many different causes associated with it, including animal agriculture.

Throughout this year, my CTW class has emphasized the need to be informed about the large entities that have control over so much of what we do. For one of our group projects, we had to perform a campaign of awareness at Santa Clara University (SCU). My group decided to go with creating a website full of information on vegetarianism and its health benefits for individuals. During the span of a few weeks, we had over 60 students from SCU who visited the site. It may not revolutionize the world or become a highly-visited site, but it is still a step in the right action towards informing the unaware.

Every day, I spend at least an hour or two reading news on my phone or in the newspaper. I do it because through it, I gain at least some information to work with. In some cases, it may not be the most reliable information that is out there, but it is at least a stepping stone to further inquiry and research. I may choose to act with regards to some of the issues I hear about, and other times not to act. What is crucial is that I have the power to choose. If I want to become vegetarian after hearing certain facts about meat, then I have the willpower to do so. However, many other individuals are not aware of the issues with the meat they eat, meaning that without that knowledge, they usually do not act. That is where we, the informed people, need to step in and spread awareness about the issues not only with meat but with other problems that are damaging our world.

Our world is a more fragile place than we usually admit. Issues like global warming, factory farming, and violence threaten our already precarious existence. But with awareness and information, we can help to make a difference, help spread the word to those who are not aware and fight for a brighter tomorrow. It may sometimes seem like no one will care about what you say or do, but even the smallest of actions can have a large result. We all have a mantle of responsibility when it comes to our world and its future, so my question for you is: what are you going to fight for?

“Always remember, never accept the world as it appears to be. Dare to see it for what it could be.” -Dr. Harold Winston

All media courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and TechFAQs.net

Works Cited

“How Much Should You Worry About Meat And Cancer? What You Need To Know About Recent WHO Report.” Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 33.12 (2016): 7. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <https://login.libproxy.scu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=112468204&site=ehost-live&gt;.

Kluger, Jeffrey, et al. “THE WAR ON DELICIOUS. (Cover Story).” Time 186.19 (2015): 30-36. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <https://login.libproxy.scu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=110619734&site=ehost-live&gt;.

Purdy, Chase. “Meat Producers Cry Foul over Cancer Report.” POLITICO. POLITICO LLC, 26 Oct. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/cancer-meat-health-pork-beef-215175&gt;.

Solotaroff, Paul, and Nita Rao. “Animal Cruelty Is the Price We Pay for Cheap Meat | Rolling Stone.” Rolling Stone Magazine. Rolling Stone, 10 Dec. 2013. Web. 16 May 2016. <http://www.rollingstone.com/feature/belly-beast-meat-factory-farms-animal-activists&gt;.

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