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A wave of feelings crashed through my mind as my eyes confronted the horror. Living, breathing animals were reduced to commodities before my eyes as workers shoved turkeys into crates and slammed piglets headfirst onto concrete floors. I could not look away. I will never forget the sickening feeling I experienced the day I first discovered a PETA factory farming video.
It’s remarkable how a short series of clicks on the Internet led me to that previously unknown place. The information was always readily available, but until then, I had never cared to look for it. How had I let that happen? Why had I mindlessly shoveled carcass after carcass into my body without question? The video brought me intense discomfort, but that was its mission: to inspire. At once, I became vegan. It was not easy to do, for I received criticism and humiliation from friends and family members, but the video compelled me to live beyond what I had previously accepted as normal. In addition, I developed a quality of inquisitiveness that motivated me to delve further into everything I learned and experienced. I could not stand the thought of choosing to live in a state of ignorance, and I could not stand the thought of my peers residing in that same ignorance from which I had just been freed. Thus, I made an attempt to share what I had uncovered by recruiting friends to watch the video. Some who viewed the clips had similar reactions to mine. Others were unmoved. What struck me most was the third group of people who actually refused to watch. That shocked me. Those people have implicitly acknowledged “Ignorance is bliss” as an acceptable mantra. Ignorance, however, is representative only of irresponsibility. I was appalled as to why anyone would choose to be so inert. Passivity gets civilization nowhere; pure acceptance of ideas stops us in our tracks and confines us in the same way that dogma halted the advances of the Enlightenment. There is no reason for ignorance to exist in today’s society when torrents of information can be transmitted in the blink of an eye. Technology in media has reached an outstanding level, and we need to take advantage of our situation. With such powerful contemporary resources, the world should fight ignorance through immersion in the humanities, the sciences, and the arts. History teaches that progress is possible, but it is only possible with the aspiration to discover.
I was lucky to undergo such a significant paradigm shift through my experience with the PETA video. After the horrors that I witnessed had penetrated my naïve and trusting innocence, I evolved. I now live with a sense of skepticism that allows me to gain all that I can from each situation I encounter. I am pleased with what I gained from that incident, for it has given me immense insight into the value of awareness and innovation.
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