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.)
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.