You are a caveman. For years, you have traveled around, eating plants, living your life the way you know how, the way you learned by watching others. You have never thought to question it or change the way you live. You take what knowledge you are given and do not search for anything outside of that. Until one day. While attempting to entertain yourself by hitting two sticks together and making them echo in your cave as you usually do, you decide to rub the sticks together instead. It makes a different noise, one you’ve never heard before. Woah.
Before you know it, your hand heats up. It seems as though you have created some sort of warmth while rubbing the two sticks together. You start to rub faster, and faster until, wait! Was that a sliver of light in the dark cave? Where did that come from? You continue to rub the sticks together, faster and faster until, the light becomes constant. It’s hot, and you do it again with multiple sticks until you have one, big, hot light in your cave.
You have just discovered fire.
You have just discovered the mechanism that will better human life for the rest of time. You would have never discovered it if you didn’t think for yourself if you didn’t think, ‘why don’t I rub the sticks together for a different sound than what all of my ancestors have always done?’
The “Status Quo”‘
Copernicus, Newton, Rosa Parks, Steve Jobs, the Neandertal who discovered fire: all great minds who challenged the status quo in different ways.
We as human beings have evolved because of those who have challenged the “status quo” yet, every day we fall into a pattern of trusting the facts, concepts and ideas of those around us. We take what is given to us in our everyday lives and never challenge the fundamental aspect of our lives.
My eyes have been opened to the fact that there is so much that I take as fact or take for granted wihtout thinking about it on my own. I trust those around me and do not think for myself. Maybe, if I did, I too could discover fire in my own way. Throughout this course, I have learned to challenge the basic facts I am handed. I have learned to think for myself and analyze anything and everything thrown at me from a source– whether I consider it credible or not.
The Truman Show
These have led me to think of the movie The Truman Show starring Jim Carey. For those who have not seen the movie, it is about a baby who was adopted by a television producer solely to make a movie out of the baby’s entire life. The baby, Truman Burbank, is placed in the largest TV set known to man that encompasses an entire world filled with stores, homes and even oceans. However, Truman does not know that his whole life is a TV show broadcasted to the rest of the world. His whole life is a lie in which everyone and everything around him I orchestrated and fabricated. Truman has lived his whole life under the surveillance of hidden cameras, believing that the people around him truly love him, that his job is a real occupation and that the things he loves are a great way to reach a fulfilled life. Every day, people around the globe watch him—on a 24 hour loop—eat, sleep, interact with other, work, and participate in his hobbies. They watch is highs, lows and root him on making his actual life into a televised TV show.
In his late thirties, a woman reveals to Truman a small truth about his life. He is evidently confused but following this event, he begins to think for himself and grows more and more suspicious. Like the caveman, Truman begins to take aspects of his everyday life and make them anew. He mixes up his everyday routine and realizes that there are strange flaws.
Until one day, Truman discovered fire.
He took what was given, made it his own, thought for himself and realized that his whole life was a TV show. The Truman show reveals a harsh, thought-provoking and alternate reality: what if everything around is a lie? If we do not think for ourselves in every way our entire life will be a lie.
Fighting With Fire
On a smaller scale, I decided to do research of my own on the lies we take for granted in the food industry. Two topics substantially stood out to me.
First, in one line of research, I looked into the popularity of fad diets amongst millennials. Specifically, for sake of research, I endured a juice cleanse. I found that despite the constant advertisement of cleanses from public figures, the lack of scientific research and the many different types of juice cleanses prove that there is still a gray area regarding whether or not they are genuinely effective. Yet, according to the “Los Angeles Times”, “The cold-pressed juice market is estimated at $100 million a year” (MacVean).
There is very little scientific research on juice cleanses but we take what popular celebrities and televised doctors such as Dr. Oz have said and make it scripture in our diet. I believed that these diets worked before I looked into myself and found that one juice accounts for a person’s suggested daily sugar intake. I’m glad I did my own research.
Another way I decided to conduct my research was to look at misleading advertisements, portion sizes and how people fall for them on food boxes. It is important to look at nutrition facts when eating a food and maintaining a healthy diet, so I conducted a survey of 100 Santa Clara University students to attempt to get a standpoint on the matter.
In my conducted survey, 73% of students stated that they believe they maintain a healthy diet but on the contrary, 76% of students stated that they “only sometimes” or “never” check the portion sizes, nutrients, calories and sugars of their foods. This just doesn’t add up. How can one be maintaining a healthy diet while not knowing what is in their food or how much they are supposed to eat?
The answer is, you can’t. If you are not checking portion sizes or nutrition facts there is no doubt that at some point you are over-eating suggested daily values. In this case, you are taking what the front of the box is telling you and not looking into it for yourself.
Only checking the front of the box is similar to only banging the sticks in a cave to make them echo; you are falling for what everyone else is doing and not thinking for yourself.
Fighting Fire, With Fire
In our lifetimes, we have two options: go through the motions and stand out, or stick to the status quo. Most people simply take what is given and stick to the status quo but taking this course at Santa Clara University a provoked me to encourage a different lifestyle.
I encourage this: think for yourself. If you do not, others will simply think for you. Philosopher Socrates once said: “To find yourself, think for yourself”(Philosophy Paradise). If we are not thinking for ourselves, we will not live a fulfilled, transparent life in which we reach our full potential. We will not be our own people but rather a compiled image of society and those who do think for themselves.
Those who think for themselves will force us to think in their way. They will brand or burn us with the fire they have discovered or the fire they want us to believe they discovered. Leaving us to be not a true self but rather a mass produced whole of ideas and fabrications.
In the end, we will either discover the fire, or be burned by it.
I say, discover fire.
Collins, Megan. “Pressed Juicery Juice Cleanse.” Photograph.