I was going to put together Divine by Zero for today, but let me tell you a little story.
My sister has been out of town for a week, and Mary and I have been left alone with her faithful pup, Lucky. Lucky is a very sweet dog once she gets to know you and realizes you aren’t a threat. She’s all of 18 inches tall but has a powerful set of lungs. I love this dog. I really do…
And I wish she’d let me sleep!
This will be the third day I get less than three hours of sleep a night because Lucky barks, whines, and cries because she misses my sister. She gets on the bed, wanders between Mary and I, and generally keeps us up. I get it. Lucky’s young. She’s very attached and protective of my sister.
But I have class to teach! I need sleep! I can’t teach with one blood-shot eye!
So, while I’ll finally get some shut-eye tonight, I can’t even gather the energy to put together a picture for this post. In place of satire and righteous anger, please enjoy autotunning… for science!
I love meat. I love rare steaks. When my grandfather makes carne asada, it’s cause for celebration. Meat in all its forms is an essential part of my diet. I am a proud carnivore.
But would I be willing to give it up for the sake of planet?
That’s the assertion made by the UN and reported in The Guardian this week. Within a few decades, we simply won’t be able to feed the population, and even with parts of the world already starving, the Western World and much of the planet may soon need to switch to alternate sources of protein and vitamins. It’s either that or we start breathing something besides oxygen.
There are other reasons for switching to a vegan diet world-wide, says the report:
Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday.
Would I be willing to do this? Would you?
Whenever someone talks of doing something for the common good, of forcing some measure on the planet for the sake the many, I instantly want to say “no.” Who are you, sir, to tell me I can’t have meat. How dare you dictate my diet! Say no to the one-child policy! Don’t tell me what political party to vote for!
Maybe it will come to that. We’re already working on chicken that is texturally identical to the real thing and is soy-based. If we can make a steak that cooks like a steak, smokes like a steak, and bleeds like a steak… maybe.
Maybe I’ll do it.
Whenever I try to explain the appeal of meat, I always have to get cultural. Meat is so integral in Mexican food. A cousin of mine once tried to go vegetarian. She lasted all of a day. You can’t be vegetarian in Mexico, I often joke. There are too many things that require lard, fat, pork, beef, chicken… Meat is in our blood. I’m type A1 Sauce.
If the thought of a rare steak grosses you out, I can’t empathize with you. The taste, the sensation of blood, it’s all more than the taste. It’s primal. This animal died so that I may eat. This being was once alive and now it’s not.
I know people who can’t even see bones in their meat or they’re reminded it’s an animal. I prefer to see the bone. I’d prefer to see the whole animal. Brains, liver, tripe, ovaries, stomach, everything… there is almost no a part of a cow or pig or chicken I haven’t tasted. Some would call it sadistic. In fact, people HAVE called it sadistic.
Nothing sadistic about enjoying food. Food should be a joy to eat and prepare. Food is about sensory experiences as much as it is about nutrition. If we wanted to, we could live on nuts, soy, and vitamin supplements. It would be tasteless yet nourishing.
But we crave flavor. We want textures. When the right smell hits us, it’s like we’re children again and can’t wait for dinner to finish cooking. The smell of cooked meat, or even raw meat for some dishes, is even more primal than that.
If it meant we saved the planet, though…
Yeah, I’d do it. I’m not so selfish as to think I should be able to eat a burger and kill the Earth at the same time.
It seems the middle class isn’t having as much sex as it used to, and this article looks at everything from the decreased gap between gender roles to the overworked nature of our country. An interesting read to be sure…
There are probably no scarier words for many of us. Someone asks us to express emotion, ideas, and otherwise filter a million firing neurons into words. We all know how to talk and write. We can talk about things we know nothing about, too. I may want to discuss the causes of the Civil War to gain information. You may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of international church ministry work without being devout yourself. All of us can talk about politics and art without necessarily being artists and politicians, if only to expand our knowledge or express an opinion based on the available information.
So why is that we’re so afraid of giving voice or text to ideas that we find abhorrent? Why do we believe that to say something gives it power?
Office feuds that may start as simple misunderstandings turn to grudges. Friends harbor ill-will based on minor comments.
Art is censored because of a lack of communication.
That’s right. Communication helps art. It also helps politics. If we can talk about something in an impartial way, in the academic way, we can address it. I’m getting really sick and tired of people who don’t want to talk about things because the topics are either uncomfortable or “should not be discussed.”
I understand some people think we shouldn’t even discuss sex, religion, political views, etc, because they cause strife… but they cause strife because we disagree about them. Swift had entire countries at war based on what side of the egg they cracked!
Ten points if you get the reference.
Believe it or not, it is possible to research and learn about a topic without actually endorsing it. I once had a project where I researched the Navajo and Huichol religious practices involving mind-altering substances like peyote. Granted, I felt like I was on a bad trip by the time we finished everything with five minutes to spare, but the research and analysis of that culture does not mean I use psychedelics.
The ability to talk about something without bursting into an emotion train wreck is a skill that helps people get to the heart of the matter, to truth born from facts, without the baggage and smoke-screen of emotion.
Let me put it this way. What’s the difference between religion and science? Religion offers answers based on predetermined rules and scripture. What happens if a fact flies in the face of that scripture? What if someone found out that there was no Garden of Eden and, instead, we all formed out of goo millions of years ago?
Emotional reaction sets in. It is no longer a question of looking at reality, of studying that which can be measured. It become an exercise in who can yell the loudest or invoke the most emotion. This is where I sincerely believe that a scientific mind-set is important. Science only seeks to describe. That’s it. It’s the reason the realm of the supernatural is of no interest in science, because if it cannot be measured or calculated in any way, it has no bearing on science.
Academic discussion is not just something you do in college. It is a skill that is sorely lacking in everyday life. A biologist would not be afraid to work with bacteria because bacteria make you ill. A physicist does not shy away from smashing atoms together. They each take precautions just like people in conversation must assess a situation and make informed decisions about what to say and what effect words will have, especially in an emotionally-charged situation.
I’m not saying emotions are bad, but they have their use just like truth and logic. Don’t neglect your feelings. Sometimes, you’ll feel something before you understand it. A hunch can be your mind’s way to trying to tell you something before you’ve worked it all out, but a hunch is not evidence and it’s not logical. It’s a step.
Don’t “feel” your way through an argument or a problem any more than you would feel your way through a room. Open your eyes.