Saturday, March 2, 2013

What Do We Know?

What Do We Know?

When I was little, one of the more exciting experiences known to happen in school was the fire drill.  We never knew when the alarm would sound;  in a morning English class, an afternoon Biology lab - or, hope upon hope, in the middle of a particularly difficult Math test.  Much like Gabriel’s trumpet, without warning it would blast forth from some unseen source, eliciting responses from every soul within earshot.  Up we would spring from our desks and out of the door we would file, one by one, as docile and obedient as a row of baby ducks.  We’d proceed out to the playground where we’d form orderly lines, presumably safe from whatever harm was afoot.  Occasionally we would participate in what our elders dubbed “Duck and Cover” drills.  These were necessitated by the what was universally perceived as the increasing threat of nuclear war.  It was determined by the experts that by merely crouching underneath our desks with our heads touching our knees we would be totally safe from a nuclear attack.  Unfathomable, I know, but we ducked and covered anyway.  So much for the elevated intelligence of human beings.  

The ads I’ve shown here are real ones, and from not that long ago.  Hilarious now, but perfectly sensible at the time.  And it’s sobering, even as we pat ourselves on the back for our culture’s great strides in knowledge, to note that only this week a well-known televangelist here in the States encouraged one of his flock to “pray over” clothes they  purchase at Goodwill stores, just in case a garment could possess demons in the warp and weft of the fabric.
 (You can read his full exhortation here.)  
One can only wonder how backward we will seem to future generations.  When the polar ice caps and the great bears who live there are only memories, will our heirs shake their heads at those amongst who today insist on refuting the science of global warming and its causes?  Will we one day discover that it wasn’t such a brilliant idea to inject
even a modicum of botulism into our foreheads in order to
paralyze wrinkles that are insignificant anyway? 

I suppose I’ve always been naturally skeptical.  I look at advertisements with a jaundiced eye and whether they flow from the lectern, the podium, or the pulpit, I’ve found it’s always beneficial to question the words I hear. I've learned it's always advisable to do my own investigation, to turn over the stones in the pathway myself in a continuing quest for the truth.

It’s disconcerting to think back on assumptions I’ve made that turned out to be entirely wrong, but little by little I move forward, step by step the light shines a bit brighter.  Someone wiser than I once said when we know better, we do better.  Such an affirming quote.  In the humbling light of history it has to be the height of hubris to think we have it all figured out.  But just as I now know that the ingestion of lard is not a guarantee of happiness or health and that DDT and babies do not make a good mix, I also know that my clothing cannot be a harbor for demons.  So I guess I'm moving forward.


  1. I find that the older I get, the more I question and the more I want to form my own opinions, guided by not just one, but many sides of the story. We think we are so smart, yet, as you've said, how will history judge us?

  2. Duck and cover. Words that have thankfully been consigned to history. Further proof that life moves forward.

  3. Some things we are seeing come full circle, like the fact that both butter and lard we are genetically programmed into our DNA to be good for us except for the nations that traditionally have an oil based diet.
    Frankly, I have never bothered with the fads of blaming certain foods or condiments for all our health problems. I just eat what I like in moderation and steer clear of chemicals both inside and outside of the house.

  4. Your excellent post reminded me of an incident with a fire alarm. Many years ago I worked as a bookkeeper at my children's school. The principal decided when we were having a fire drill and would push the button located in the supply room to activate the alarm. The principal also taught a french class in the morning. One morning, while the principal was teaching french class, I went into the supply room to retrieve some accounting supplies and lost my balance and fell hip first against the fire alarm button. You should have seen the look on the principal's face when he came down the hall with his class, as he thought that this was a real fire. Actuall it wasn't my hip but a part of my anatomy very close to the hip!!!

  5. Those adverts are quite scary Pamela, knowing what we do about health. And yet our parents didn't all die of heart disease did they?
    I have written on a subject not all that distant from this today too.

  6. Terrific post!! I have always been a bit of a skeptic and even more so as I get older. I have always believed you have to be your own advocate when it comes to your health.
    Thanks for making us think!!

  7. it takes so little to be labeled as an "expert" today. just get yourself on a tv show where talking heads sit around a table.
    then spout your particular brand of knowledge ad infinitum.
    a dangerous thing actually. in a land where people are becoming more like sheep than ever before.
    thank you for another inspiring post!!!

  8. These ads are scary, however, we are still being bombarded with inaccurate marketing.

  9. I've always been wary of anything artificial, even when it was supposed to be better for you. I never believed it. Actually lard and butter are okay IF they come from animals that were raised in the natural, old-fashioned way and not force-fed the wrong food. As they say, "if your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, don't eat it!"

  10. Thank you, as always for being your courageous, honest self.
    Loved this.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  11. I heard a southern chef on the radio recently saying that lard had gotten a bad rap and had less fat (I think it was) than butter, and that it was very flavorful. But he said you needed to make your own. Huh? Well, who knew? Personally, I do love butter and never gave it up, though I do use olive oil, too. It always does seem that science is either saying what was once bad for you is now OK, or what was the miracle vitamin or food is not so wonderful after all. And didn't we all follow along? It reminds me of the Woody Allen movie "Sleeper" when the health food eating paranoiac wakes up in the future where hot fudge sundaes are considered good for you. Personally, I'm glad that chocolate is now a health food. I feel a bit like that Woody Allen character. And, Priscilla, I laughed out loud at your comment.

  12. Pamela,
    Sound reasoning, something that seems to have eluded some people living in our country, even today. DTD and babies, or Coca Cola and toddlers? Really?! Could the scientists, even then, think that was a good idea?

  13. My mother had me when she was way too young and clueless in a time when young mothers obeyed and never questioned doctors .
    I was drinking coca cola when I was 3.
    Thankfully, I didn't like butter or mayo when I was a kid .. so I guess all the sugar was enough for my body to cope with, the oil/fat was a minor worry.
    One of the best things that ever happened to me was 1- when I met my husband 2- he didn't eat meat, 3- I have not eaten red meat in over 30 years. Our children have never eaten red meat.
    But I still drink coke :)

    We will be "Up" there in about 2-3 weeks !!

  14. It seems to me i question everything now. And with good reason. I love butter, lol, but i'd never dream of eating a whole stick plain. (Of course A LOT of butter goes into the shortbread cookies i bake and love so much!)

    I can't believe that ludicrousness about demons in goodwill clothes.. What planet are the people who say/think things like that from? (Insert huge eye roll here.) But you're correct that we likely attest to things now that will seem at the least silly a couple of generations from now. I think most of us try to find understanding, though. And that's good!

  15. It dawned on me just today that I'm spending way too much time reading about how to live a healthy life than actually living one! How much of what we take as gospel today will be debunked next week? That doesn't mean I'm going to stop wearing my sunblock, mind you. I just think it's ironic that our obsession with "healthy living" may have its own pitfalls. "Food" for thought, indeed!

  16. Those ads are so funny, but not funny. Isn't hindsight a marvellous gift!

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  18. And Pamela, we might be eating horse lard before long. USDA is passing new laws so the states can start slaughtering horses for consumption. They are trying to say it is the humane thing to do but it is to line the pockets of politicians and ranchers.

  19. "Like sheep to slaughter" when we hand over to others the autonomy to think and decide for ourselves...we may not be able to decide what's gold and what's dross. Ha...we maybe eating horse lard without knowing...:) Moderation in all things has become a cliche but still sound advise.

    "When we know better we do better". Somehow we were never taught that we are merely stewards not owners of this planet. When we accept that fact, we'll treat this planet with respect and considerations.

  20. Pamela I do sometimes wonder what we can believe at all.

    Thank God for my faith and hopefully man will awaken and use some common sense during our time on Earth.

    Art by Karena

  21. Pat Robertson is absurd! I couldn't believe he actually said that--in 2013 no less! 'm questioning everything these days. Great post.

  22. Thought provoking post, it's interesting to think about how our customs and mindsets change

    Apparently in Iceland some people totally destroy any furniture or clothes that they put in the landfill so no-one else can use them.

    The current general reaction against butter has gone too far I think, it's probably a lot healthier than most margarines, if eaten in moderation of course. Lard though, I think is never good for you

  23. The older I get the more I have simplified what I eat and consume...but the clothes & demons bit is crazy!

  24. You are soooo right. But, mind you, it seems that sunblock contains too much parabenes and are not safe neither... Agh! Best wishes from the country of the olive oil.

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