Knowledge Sucks

What’s that you say? Bacteria flies into the air when you flush if you don’t close the lid? Fine, I’ll close the thing every time. And I’ll put my toothbrush away.

Oh, toddlers can be enriched? Well then, it’s not enough to simply keep them alive anymore.

Recycling helps the planet? OK, I won’t even throw away the to-go containers from Big Bowl. And I’ll drop my old cell phone into the bin at the library.

Americans waste 30 million tons of food every year? Alright, I’ll take the butt ends of the bread that nobody eats and put them outside for the squirrels.

These ridiculous activities of mine are the culmination of a steady exposure to knowledge. And knowledge always leads to guilt.

Don’t believe me? Watch this. (Or don’t, if you have an aversion to seeing a sick cow that can’t stand up getting shoved into line at the factory by a bulldozer. Oops. Sorry for the visual.)

Tell me whether you’ll ever eat a hamburger again without thinking of this video and that cow.

I am a big fan of animals so it makes sense that I am interested in their well-being. But I was also raised by meat-eaters and what you might call the opposite of hippies. My mother pretty much thinks washing fruit from the store is a sin. My father refuses to take his shoes off in my house when I tell him that they track in all sorts of toxins. So I’ve started making up things like, “I just washed my floor.”

With parents like these, I’ve always been a moderate when it comes to animals. Love them, respect them, but go ahead and make leather or a steak out of them. I grew up fishing. I’m okay with hunting as long as you actually have to use your wits to do it — no using a dog to corner a scared animal so you can walk up and shoot it in the head. Getting dropped off by a helicopter in the Alaskan wilderness to track and shoot caribou? Fine. That is a sport.

But my moderate-ness is being shred to bits by the Internet and cable news and those horrible undercover agents at the Humane Society. I have now acquired specific knowledge of animals being abused to make the food and products that I use. Now that I know this, I can’t un-know it. (Do I have that correct? Because if someone can please tell me how to un-know something, I’d be grateful.)

I’m almost ashamed to say (Dad, please close your eyes) that I have even been toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian. Not vegan–that is just anti-human. But really, I just don’t need the guilt that comes with eating meat. The guilt that comes with knowledge.

Taking all this into account, I shouldn’t have been surprised at what happened Saturday night. I went to Marshalls (because I am just that cool) in search of anything to buy. I happened upon this fantastic bag that had everything I needed–beauty and space for an extra diaper. I purchased the bag even though it was expensive because, people, I’d already saved the money I obviously was not using to buy shots for my friends, so why not?

Wait. Why was it so expensive, you ask? That’s right, because it’s leather. Leather, leather, leather. It’s the only word I could think about on the drive home.

And now my new bag is sitting in a double plastic bag (I mean, really, how horrible can I be?) staring out at me. “What will you do?” it asks. “Will you follow your conscience and return me, or will you shrug it off with a cowardly, ‘If I don’t use it, somebody else will’?”


Oh, thank all that is good in this world, my parents’ influence has come through. I just thought of a happily moderate middle-ground answer for my bag. “I’ll become a vegetarian if I get to keep you.” Good enough for me, for now. Gotta go take some tags off.

Meet my new bag.



16 thoughts on “Knowledge Sucks

  1. Just love these stories, Jess. Because I,too, struggle with the same issues of knowing “too much” on some issues and how to incorporate it into daily living. Ok, vegetarianism…morally it’s unquestionalby ethically wrong when there are so many other food options that actually promote better health. Have you seen Bill Clinton lately or have you seen his numbers on reversing cholesterol and toxic poisons in the body? But here’s my cop out with having that great leather bag… am I aiding and abetting the animal killer industry- or are we at least using what we have left of this animal for some use? Logic I’m afraid to say would lead us to that if there is no leather available then we would find other materials, right? But then that PERFECT bag comes along SO few times…

    • No, I’ll have to look up the Bill Clinton stuff (more knowledge, ugh).
      I’m pretty comfortable with buying meat from sources I know are humane. But it’s so expensive, and even then there’s a small part of me that would like to abstain altogether. But BBQ shredded pork is sooo good. But really, I rarely eat meat so it wouldn’t be too expensive to buy from good sources.
      See? There are so many “buts” above because I tend to go round and round….

  2. Return the bag, Jess! And get 2 non-leather bags. One for me, one for you. Then we can go out and eat vegetarian while being proud of the bags we carry.

  3. Nice! But now that I know that my diet is anti-human, the guilt may cause me to start eating cheese again 🙂

    Glad to be connected and to get your updates!

    – Jon

  4. Good sensible post. You can soothe/confuse feelings by remembering plants are also alive – and feel pain – and respond to stimuli. Just walk gently in your environment – take only what you need and don’t be selfish or wasteful. Buy from responsible sources that treat animals humanely and limit poisons on produce. Avoid lawn companies that spray poisons on lawns – plant sturdy plants instead. You’ll be fine – you’re aware. Oh, keep the bag – that cow’s already dead – and it will last for years (good plan – limit consumption and throw-aways). Enjoy life – gently and with care.

  5. Jess:

    I have a solution for the toilet problem. Don’t bend down and put your face 10 inches above the bowl. The bacteria won’t be able to get to you. Or just put the lid down and come back in 5 minutes to make certain that everything flushed down to its proper place. I am amazed that my generation survived without bringing those paper wipes to the grocery store and every other place that had doornobs, handles, windows etc. etc. etc. If some kid ever saw me using those handy wipes when I was a kid, he would have beaten the bacteria out of me.



    • Yes, Dad, you definitely grew up in a different time. Many, many moons ago.
      Seriously, though, you make a good point. Some things can be overdone. But if the result of the past (hrrmph) years is that we’re more aware and more responsible in how we treat the planet, then that’s good.

      • But we are not more responsible for the way we treat the planet. The term soccer moms is from your generation. My generation rode our bycycles everywhere. If we wanted to join little league we had to ride our bycycles. Our mommies didn’t or wouldn’t drive us everywhere. Most families that I knew owned one car, not two. We returned our pop bottles to the store for 2 cents a bottle and they were recycled for more soda. Our homes had one telephone and one TV. If the kids didn’t like what their parents were watching they found something else to do, like play. The consumption of electricity in our homes was quite a bit less than what is used in your homes. I could go on and on but I think you get my drift.


        • Good points. Our better responsibility has coincided with way more consumption. At some point, though, I hope that our knowledge about the damage we can do and are doing to the world will lead to greater gains for the environment–widespread use of wind power, less demand for oil, treading softly, etc.

  6. I’ve been having similar reservations about meat/poultry/gorgeous-accessory production. I was a vegetarian at one point and don’t think I want to go back down that road, but my goal is to be less lazy & cheap this summer and take advantage of the much-more-humane farm produce I have all around me. When I get farmer’s market sticker shock I’m going to try to remember what the real cost of the crap at Pick N’ Save is when you factor in how it’s produced and the toll it takes on the animals and the environment.

    • That is a great point, Susan. It is more expensive, but when you think about what you’re buying–really think about it and all the ramifications involved–it’s far worth the cost.

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