Last week I was talking about what we had to do to survive. Today I’m going on to several aspects of our culture that seem deeply imbedded, but by logic or humanitarianism should be exorcised. But we stay with the status quo. Why? As Kate Cooper in her TED talk on Compassion in Agriculture said, the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of Big Agro is the willful ignorance of the public. We’re enjoying life too much to worry about what some other person or creature is paying for it.
Let’s start with the “small” ones and work up.
- Daylight Saving Time
Where did this silly idea originate? As a morale booster during the First World War. It was imposed to fool the people of Britain that they were doing something for the war effort, that their small sacrifice of an hour of sleep would help the Empire to survive.
That’s it. No scientific background. No studies have ever proved the practice has the slightest use. The only meaningful data anyone has managed to collect has to do with the rise in heart attacks and auto accidents.
Ask proponents of the practice, and they say things like, “I don’t know. I sorta like the extra hour of daylight in the morning (or in the evening. Whatever). Don’t these people realize that government policy isn’t supposed to be set on what you “sorta like?” People are dying because of this stupidity, but you’re still pushing for the status quo because it suits your rigid little mind.
- Cosmetic Surgery on Puppies
Let’s be frank about this practice. The carvers take over when the breeding program fails. We have bred up exactly the breed we want, but its ears are floppy, and we want nice, perky ears because they look so alert. That’s fine. Just pare them down until they don’t flop of their own weight. Presto, the Doberman.
And don’t give me, “taken off for medical reasons.” On an individual, sure. On a breed? Balderdash. The main reason for the chopping of tails was, as I understand, feudal taxation in Europe. In the days before income tax, governments taxed all sorts of things. Number of panes in the windows of your house, for example. (Hence the “olde English” windows with panes that look like bottle bottoms. Not a real pane, so not taxable.) As far as dogs, the full pet ones were a luxury to be taxed. If a nobleman wanted to keep a hunting dog, which was sort of necessary, he could pay a reduced tax if he was willing to cut off most of the tail. Hence the gun dogs with stumps. And the poor shepherd could get away with low or no tax if he was willing to cut off the whole thing. Thus Old English Sheepdogs.
In case nobody noticed, we are taxed on other things now. Docking is simply a holdover from a crueler era, and modern society can live very happily without the reminder of how we once were. In many countries, the practice is frowned upon, not done by reputable vets, or outright illegal. But watch the Westminster Dog Show.
And the only modern reason for docking is one we really need to get rid of: fighting dogs with ears cropped short to deny the opponent something to grab onto. ‘Nuff said about that barbaric practice.
- Battery Farms
Okay, let’s grant that in the wild the average prey animal lives in fear, destined to die screaming as the teeth of the predator tear it to bits. Very nasty; the life of the average steer is considerably superior, likewise its fairly humane ending.
Grant also that the small minds of animals are bothered less by conditions that would drive a human mad. It still takes a great leap of idiocy to posit that it’s okay to keep a relatively intelligent animal like a pig in a pen about twice its length and height for all its life. And when it comes to chicken factories, one photo should be enough to give the shivers to any human with a touch of empathy.
But most of us choose to ignore this situation as we flop our pork chops on the grill and our drumsticks in the fryer.
- Third World Wages
Here we go again. We must agree that workers in the third world live in a country with a lower standard of living. We have to allow that these people depend on us for their jobs, and without First World markets, they would be even poorer.
However, looking at those statements from the opposite point of view allows that our higher standard of living depends on their cheap products. If we had to pay market price for all the junk we depend on, we wouldn’t be able to afford it. Which might not be such a bad thing.
Yes, many of us blame the “one percent” for being filthy rich and not passing it on to anyone else. When you compare the salary of the average Canadian to that of the average Ugandan, the difference is similar. Yet our “I’m all right, Jack” attitude persists. Turn a blind eye and enjoy yourself.
- Global Warming Ignorance
Is there really anyone who can’t see the effects of climate change on their own life? Okay, I’ll wait until the Forest Fire season is over and ask you that again.
But nobody wants to talk about that, for fear of admitting that our lifestyle is the cause, and therefore we are going to have to make sacrifices, probably large ones, to reverse the trend.
And I’m going to stop talking about Climate Change now because I’ve reached the saturation point. Nobody reads any further in a Climate Change article, because it might disturb their cosy little world where they all sit around with their heads firmly entrenched in the (oil) sand.
“Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You…”
People get the government they deserve. As long as governments in Canada are chosen based on what people “sorta like,” based on outmoded practices that we keep just because “we have always done it like that,” and worst of all based on how much money the winning party will put back in our pockets, we are not going to have democracy, and government will not make the moves necessary for our survival.
We need candidates in the next election that can fire up the voting public to take the actions that need to be taken, even if it will mean a hit to our luxurious lifestyle.
“Ask What You Can Do for Your Country.”
Kennedy had it right. It’s time to step up to the plate and prove our worth.