Sunday, March 10, 2013

It's not Insanity

I have been told my entire life that I need to speak up. That I am too shy. That I seem distant and stand offish. With a lot of people... I AM. I don't think this is a bad thing. I don't need the whole world to hear me saying what I think. I need them to KNOW what I want and I make sure they know. For me, it's not about everyone knowing who I am and what I do and my beliefs. All that is expected is that they somehow, through my actions, learn what I would like them to know and they then use that information as they wish. Pretty much, I lack an ego. Which is good, I guess. I mean, it comes in handy sometimes, I would imagine but I tend to be rather modest. I am not impressed easily and I don't aim to impress anyone. So it works out. We're all equal, really truly. We may not all do things the same way or have the same goals or intentions or desires but that's groovy. Not to say ignorant people should remain as such... sure, I personally believe a successful life is one which you are making positive change for everyone but I guess at the end of the day, instinct tells us to do for ourselves (aka our children and so forth...)

There are people who look down on you if you're not a BIG philanthropist activist hero moose goblin and there are people who look down on you if they feel you are wasting all your time on silly causes rather than doing something "more important" with your time. I, on the other hand, try to balance both! I would say I get involved with a lot of activism and good causes but I also go to school so I can have a career that will help people. See how that works?

My main intention here is to defend those activists, those believers, those fighters who can't dedicate their entire lives to "the cause" because they are also caught up in equally important causes. These people should not be put down for this, as I have seen done. A doctor who works night and day saving lives is not a bad guy because he or she isn't dealing with corruption in the government. What about those mothers and fathers who don't want their kids amidst a huge crowd of screaming, potentially violent strangers and cops and ruckus and madness? They instead want to be with their kids, safe at home, teaching them about life and love and the infinite possibilities in life... nothing wrong with that!

Just the same as I don't see some "big activists" at food banks or at adoption events or even at nursing homes. Which I find a little disheartening. Immediate or short term fixes are sometimes everything to someone. The arguing and insulting is just shameful. The stealing, the lying, the vandalization... these are not things that add to the beauty of the world. There are enough people destroying it, those who claim to be helping and take such pride in helping, as least do that the best you can if you're not doing anything else.

I don't say this to knock anyone or their life choices, I say this to maybe wake a few people up. Be their little reminder that change has to start within themselves or else no one will do better, no one will be better. Maybe they know this but pride stops them from changing (I'm guilty of this from time to time; we all are!) Just taking a second look at what you do and say and think can sometimes make all the difference within your life or even the world. This is how things progress and improve!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Twist of Fajita (irrelevant title!)

It can happen at any moment. That twisting, turning pain in your chest or stomach. The kind that gives you a headache, leaves you nauseous, and makes you want to run away and hide forever. It can be triggered by too much, too little, too big, too small... or nothing at all!

Anxiety is something I am afflicted with. Another obstacle that millions of people deal with in their lives. It's not the kind you can just take a pill for and everything is all right. Some people can but many can't.

It often stops sufferers from leaving their home or even leaving their bed. It's debilitating  and can easily lead to depression. When you never know what you will come across or, in general, what moment will trigger it, you come to fear experiencing things. You can learn you're fine in a 400 or more people crowd at a jumping, screaming concert and then you go home, put on music and sit with your dog in your lap and realize you find the combination of the dog and music is overwhelming you. You are finding it harder to breathe, your heartbeat is speeding up, and you can't focus on anything. You just want to get into the fetal position under your blanket and sleep. Of course, you're so wound up, you can't sleep, either.

This is what anxiety can do to a person. Take over your day, your happiness, your existence. It can even lead to an anxiety attack. The most dreaded time in an anxious person's life. You are certain you will cry or pass out or die. Everything is terrifying. You're falling, life is failing... Reason doesn't have any meaning to this person. You can tell them they need this or to do this but this person has fallen into a mental blackout. They can't necessarily process what they want or need, they just are following the motions of life. Oftentimes leading to depersonalization to escape the situation. This makes it easier for the sufferer but worse for those surrounding them, trying to help. This is why having anxiety attacks while alone are preferable, even though it may make them scarier.

I wish I could offer a cure or even a treatment. However, I can't. All I can offer is information. I will never expect anyone who has not faced anxiety to understand it. As much as they may try, like an disorder or unique thing in an individual, only those who have been through it understand. The problem with that is, because it is such an internal issue, those who do not know, may blow it off or act as if the sufferer is at fault or being dramatic. I say this because of what I have heard and seen and been told myself. Ironically, as many people as have anxiety issues, there are a million more who have experienced it once or twice and still do not lend an understanding ear to others.

Maybe my offer of a firsthand experience and understanding of anxiety will be of help and help those of you who have been misinformed or uninformed understand or reach out, even. Any step forward is important.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Scratching the Surface of Factory Farming

Shame is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a painful emotion cause by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety". That is to say, shame is a negative emotion felt as a result of not being up to the positive standard that has been set by society, typically an objective view. When an individual lacks in some way, shame is achieved. This is a human emotion and there is no individual who has never felt shame. It is normal and healthy to some extent. This is because humans are prone to do things often without knowing better or because of insensitivity at times.

Jane Bolton wrote an article for Psychology Today titled What We Get Wrong About Shame.  In this article she discusses the information, as well as misinformation most individuals have acquired regarding shame. She uses one case in which a patient of hers felt because she felt shame, she must have done something shameful, therefore, her entire life was shameful. However, this is inaccurate. Shame is simply an emotion one faces in reaction to doing, seeing, or knowing something they feel to be shameful. This does not mean the act is in fact shameful, however.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who have been conditioned to not take notice of the shame involved in an action they are taking part in. Such as someone who overcharges elderly customers for the sake of making more money. He may know what he is doing is wrong but in order for him to make more money, he may choose to take advantage of those who do not know better. On one hand, he could feel shame and do it nonetheless. In other cases, he may be so concerned with paying his own bills that he will not see any fault in his actions.

One case in particular which comes to mind when I think of shame in American history is the common practice of factory farming. Merriam-Webster  explains factory farming as, "a large industrialized farm; especially: a farm on which large numbers of livestock are raised indoors in conditions intended to maximize production at minimal cost." The definition alone does not appear to be all too shameful, however, upon further research it is clear where these farms do wrong.  I do not only find the actions of these farms shameful but also how normalized they have come to be. Whether citizens are unaware of the horrible conditions or simply choose not to care, there is still a major epidemic across the country and the world that occurs right within these farms.

Before delving into the abuse that the animals involved in factory farming face, the impact it has on each person must be discussed. Factory farming, the way it is currently done, has been used for at least the past 20 years. These factories have replaced the small family-owned farms and are now huge corporations that tuck away thousands of of animals into small areas, where they are tightly packed together. This affects us all because between the methane released by these animals and the pollution from their manure, the air and water can be turned dangerous and make sick those in surrounding communities. Within the larger factories there is about 500 million tons of manure produced each year, according to Rather than this massive amount of manure being dealt with immediately, it is placed in pits or lagoons and eventually used as fertilizer. Unlike smaller farms, these large scale factory farms do not prevent the polluting of water because of the size. So much is applied to land each time that it ends up in outside areas and pollutes the air and water. This would be not be as worrisome except, in mass quantities, you now have the release of nitrogen, phosphorus, and possibly even bacteria. These lagoons and pits have been known to leak, as well, along with the overflow of manure, which then spreads into nearby streams and water. This will then be consumed and lead to terrible consequences for the rest of the population, along with killing local wildlife.

The dangers of this manure doesn't stop there. All the chemicals held within the stacks of decomposing manure causes skin rashes, breathing problems and headaches, and long-term exposure has led to neurological problems. Beyond the manure, the animals themselves can spread disease. Due to overcrowding, therefore, stress in these factories, diseases are spread very easily. Having all these cattle in one, overpopulated area leads to bacteria spreading onto the hides and then brought inside the slaughterhouses. Even one cow that has been contaminated can bring about the contamination of thousands of pounds of meat.

The concerns do not end there. They even go as far as changing the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans. Being that spreading disease is so common in these factories, much of the livestock is treated with antibiotics to prevent illness and promote weight gain. These bacteria then become strong and antibiotic resistant. This leads to bacteria that are stronger than antibiotics once they reach humans. This goes along with the fact that chickens often receive arsenic-based additives in their feed, this is used enhance the flesh's pinkness and increases growth. Cattle are fed with animal byproducts, this increases the risk of mad cow disease.

When it comes to the animals themselves and their well-being, this is at risk as well in these factory farms. Most of the hogs and chickens in these facilities never have seen the outdoors. Cows on the other hand are outdoors but they are crammed into feedlots, as most factory farms use, rather than more humane methods. They are not allowed access to grass or open space. Even in the case of "cage free", there is little time outdoors. This is because the laws regarding what can be labeled as "cage free" are very vague. It not uncommon for a "cage free" chicken to have an open cage for 2 hours and be considered "cage free". At this point, the chicken may be unaware or too unhealthy to leave their cage anyway. These practices are all done to maximize profit. However, they also maximize animal stress and misery.

The final group to suffer due to factory farms is farmers! Every year there is less of a need and less of a presence of smaller farms. Most farmers are unable to maintain their farms and income when their competition is so large and powerful. They cannot keep up. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2007 more than half of family farmers lost money on their farming operation. The few but large companies that are able to dominate this field have much control over what money farmers receive and control over the general going ons of the farms. The amount farmers receive for their work and livestock has been steadily decreasing throughout the past two decades. The change from many small, independent farms that were charging fair prices into a lesser number of huge farms occurred rapidly. The Department of Justice allowed these large meatpackers to become a monopoly, influenced by money they were to make more of and faster.

What these large companies and departments don't realize is that the previous system benefited everyone. By simply separating these large factories into smaller, more personal farms, the animals, communities, and farmers can be treated much better and be much healthier. Individual farms have the time, and if given funding, the money to take their time to ensure all animals are treated humanely and all goods are then the best they can be. Those who are currently purchasing these products from factory farms are either unaware or uninterested in the effects of those they are giving their money to.

In this unfortunate case, shame is lacking in those who are supporting a dangerous and unethical practice. Through education and understanding, more people can understand, rather than make light of, the inhumane and unhealthy actions that go on behind the scenes of factory farming.


"How Factory Farms Impact YouFactory Farm Map | Factory Farm Map." Factory Farm Map. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <>.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. “2007 Census of Agriculture.” AC-07-A-51. December 2009. Table 5 at 14.

Bolton, Jane. "What we get wrong about shame." psychology today. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. <>.