We have become overly comfortable with acceptance. It seems to me that in this day and age, most of us (or certainly a majority of us in the urban/westernised/industrialised regions of the world) accept anything and everything that's thrown at us. By accepting here I am referring to a behaviour which is more akin to unquestioning conformity. Social psychologists have been pulling their hair apart for decades if not centuries to understand the whole concept of how groups behave, conformity and so on. The problem, however, is that things we have been accepting in this manner may not necessarily be good for us and most of them are not, if only were pause for a moment to question their validity and just think about them objectively. This is hardly the case though. Good time to give some examples in defence of this observation.
Everyone likes watching TV and it is generally accepted social norm to do so. Indeed several conversations people have everyday are in some sort of way related to something they watched on the TV. While there is nothing inherently wrong with watching TV, the problem starts with the content we watch. Like most things, TV can be a good and a bad thing, but taking a long term perspective, it may well have done more harm than good to those who prefer watching anything that results in lower utilisation of their ability to think. Advertisement is probably the biggest devil, followed closely by sensationalist media, programmes about celebrities, soap-operas of course and a whole other load of rubbish.
Similarly, we tend to accept processed food without judging its actual merit. Corporations and governments alike are hardly ever keen to talk about this subject. Most people would never realise but over 80% of processed food contains corn and soya in some form or another. It would take us forever to go over why this is a problem. I think it would be fair to suggest that we begin with an assumption that processed food is bad for us. We can debate the truth behind this while we are not eating it, as chances are it would do us more good than harm anyway. Plus it has been proved beyond doubt that this is true. Michael Pollan, an American author and New York Times columnist has gone as far as calling the whole processed food deal as "...Corn's evolutionary strategy to overtake the world while humans pretend to be the smartest species..." For those interested, I would recommend watching his documentary Food Inc. If that doesn't change the way you think about food, nothing will. It may be funny and diffuse the tension for a bit but it doesn't change the obvious fact that nothing beats eating healthy, organic and un-processed food as much as possible. As for the arguments about organic food being too fancy and unaffordable, I will be trying to dispel this myth in subsequent posts on this topic.
The list of such acceptable and indeed expected things to do also include being in debt, which is now considered normal and a lot of times we inevitably get into it whether we like it or not. Also consumerism has become a lot more acceptable. Do we really need that new mobile phone every 18 months? Do we really need to upgrade our cars, computers, home appliances, gadgets every so often and buy every new item that's out there? I doubt it. I admit of being guilty to some of these myself but that makes my questioning all the more appealing. It feels good now to be on the other end of the tunnel and knowing for sure that the light you saw really exists. The list is endless.
So here's what we can try doing to make our lives better and in turn make a difference to everyone including the environment.
- Avoid processed/fast food as much as possible. Buy local and in season products. Look out for that green, recycled or Fair Trade logos where available. It won't kill us to not have Mangoes, Strawberries or Watermelons all year round.
- Stop watching and more importantly believing everything they show on the TV. It is perfectly fine to watch some of the stuff they show on TV but we only need to think before wasting hours in front of the idiot box. One would realise, as I did, that most of what we watch is rubbish and we can easily live without it if not have a better life without it. No harm giving it a try. The feeling of liberation and saving time is amazing.
- Try not getting into debt as much as possible. We can live perfectly happily without credit cards, store cards, jumping at "buy now pay later" deals and falling for personal loans our banks try to sell us. Having said this though, credit is a good way to leverage when used sensibly and responsibly. Recklessness is what causes all the trouble.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium, where Anu, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Maria the Silver Fox, Noor, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Shackman, The Old Fossil, Will Knott, and I write on the same topic. Please visit the other blogs to get eleven different takes on today's topic, chosen by Shackman. Do visit their blogs to see different takes on the same topic.