diet ethics

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

“I think we are blind. Blind people who can see, but do not see.”

~Jose Saramago~

I’ve been noticing lately, how many things there are that we hide from ourselves so we don’t have to truly acknowledge what’s really happening. I realized it in Thailand while there recently with my father as he was putting fuel in the gas tank of his vehicle. The pumps in the area where he lives have a clear container above the pump which fills with fuel prior to being drained into the tank. This process is repeated many times until the fuel is fully dispensed. In this system, you actually see the fuel which goes into your gas tank. There it’s a reddish color. I don’t even know the color of gasoline in the United States. If there were a 20 gallon clear tank which would be filled for viewing prior to draining that tank into our vehicles here in America or elsewhere in the world, I think we would think very differently about our fuel. As it stands, we never have to see it, so in a way, we never truly have to acknowledge its existence. When we see the actual fuel, we are subtly encouraged to recognize the consequences of our fuel usage – primarily pollution and wars. When we don’t see it, it is easier for us to put those things out of our minds or disconnect ourselves from the consequences of our choices.

How many chickens do you think you would eat if you had to kill, pluck, gut and cut them up yourself? I would venture to guess none. Now instead of killing them yourself, what if you had to watch someone else kill, pluck, gut and cut it up? I bet if that were required you still wouldn’t eat it. What we’ve chosen to do is distance ourselves from the activities we don’t want to partake in or even witness so that we can consume what we want. We are simply distancing ourselves from reality, living in a setting of false comfort so that we can have what we want without having to make difficult choices. The same of course goes for eating cow, and pig. Notice how we even create other names for these animals so we can remain another layer away from the reality. We don’t say, “Honey, would you like to eat some cow tonight?” Instead we call it beef, hamburger, steak, tri-tip, tenderloin, brisket, or any other number of names. euphemisms really, designed to distance ourselves from the reality that we are eating an animal. The same is true for eating pigs which we refer to as pork, bacon, pork chops, ham, etc. We also choose to distance ourselves from how these animals are commonly raised, in feedlots in tight pens, in overcrowded cages. And this is how they spend their entire lives. I won’t go into detail on the actual animal raising or slaughtering processes, but if you are curious, I encourage you t check out

I imagine that if you are a meat-eater, you will have chosen to not watch the video. I added that video simply so some of you could first hand experience that feeling of not wanting information which might affect your current beliefs or practices. I don’t blame you. I don’t want to think about these things either, and I often prefer turning a blind eye. I’m writing this though because in my quest to live a more aware life, it feels important to me to start acknowledging things that I’d often rather not see and this tendency I see in myself.

I’ve come up with a list which is far from complete, but includes things about which we choose to avoid information. If we knew more about these things, it would affect our behaviors and purchasing decisions. These include:
  • Effects of and prevalence of pesticides and other chemicals in food
  • What goes into dog and cat food
  • Hormones in the food supply and it’s affect on developing children
  • Genetically engineered food crops
  • Rainforest destruction
  • Global warming
  • The dying of our oceans through acidification, overfishing, pollution and global warming
  • Depletion of ocean resources for animal feed (36% of seafood caught is used to feed animals, largely other animals in the food supply)
  • Health consequences of a diet of animal protein
  • Health consequences of smoking
  • Health consequences of alcohol consumption
  • Logging and deforestation practices
There is also a large category of items that I simply call the “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” collection,to which we simply often choose to turn a blind eye so we don’t have to be emotionally impacted. These include:
  • Poverty
  • People who don’t have enough to eat
  • People who are incarcerated
  • Political prisoners
  • Child abuse
  • Spousal abuse
  • Whale and dolphin slaughter
  • Extent of corporate influence on government decisions
  • Killing of racing dogs and horses
  • Children sold or kidnapped into sex trades
  • Indentured servitude and modern slavery
  • America not honoring treaties signed with Native Americans
  • Affect of historical disenfranchisement on today’s african americans, american indians
  • Land fills
  • Ground water pollution
  • Commodification of drinking water
  • Birth control residue ending up in the food chain
  • Racism
So how much do you really want to know? I admit to being guilty of often turning a blind eye, but the more and more I am interested in living a more truthful and aware life, the less I am able to turn turn my head.

“How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn’t see?”
~Bob Dylan from Blowin’ in the Wind~

Leave a Reply