“Out of sight truly is out of mind.”
You might argue that selfishness or the pursuit of profits are the primary reasons major issues are overlooked in the world. But it’s also physical distance between humans and a problem that makes it easy to overlook and ignore problems.
If you are not seeing how your food is getting killed, it’s much easier to purchase it without a second thought. If you are not living amongst the poor, mentally ill & homeless, then the problem simply doesn’t exist in your head.
We evolved to care about the issues in our immediate vicinity – what is happening in our in our tribe, on our street. That doesn’t mean we don’t have empathy with issues around the world. But if we are not exposed to them, they are quickly forgotten.
Part of the problem is our arrogance
Human beings have a bias towards the present day. We know we’re at the most advanced point in human history, therefore we must be extremely civilized, right? Particularly when you compare us to all the awful things people let happen in the past. We are top of the mountain.
It’s easy for us to look at the people before us and wonder how on earth they let things like slavery and female subjugation happen. These feel like completely alien concepts to us – things of the past.
And yet, both are still happening in some parts of the world.
Do we really think we’re so noble that future generations won’t deride us for letting atrocities happen in the western world, as they are right this second?
Our decedents might forgive us for the lack of control we have over issues in far off lands, not connected to our lives. But perhaps not for the issues close to home, that we could ‘easily’ have an impact on if we chose to.
Let’s not kid ourselves, we may be at the forefront of human history, but we’re still in the dark ages. For example, when someone has cancer our best solution is to pump them full of poison – otherwise known as chemotherapy. Poison that makes you vomit, weak, lose your hair, cause brain fog and neuropathy. Just because we’re not using leaches anymore, does not mean we are any more civilized.
Many of us are completely ignorant to some of the issues that we have in the world and just how uncivilized we are – let’s shed some light on just three of them.
1. Sweat shops for iPhones
People are literally throwing themselves off the top of factories due to the conditions in China. Specifically at FoxCon – an enormous manufacturer whose clients include Apple.
Multiple suicides per year have been reported for the last decade.
Everything in the above article is alarming, but one of the most striking statements is the incident in 2012:
150 workers gathered on a rooftop and threatened to jump. They were promised improvements and talked down by management; they had, essentially, wielded the threat of killing themselves as a bargaining tool.
And this happened multiple times afterwards. Think about how bad and desperate your life must be to arrive at this stage.
We in the west vote for this to happen every year, with our wallets. Low pay and terrible conditions allow us to have the smart phone at the reasonable price we do today.
This isn’t about iPhones or Apple though. The clothes you wear, the toys you buy, even the medicine you receive (we rely heavily on Asia) may well have death and suffering attached to it, just to make it slightly more affordable for you.
We don’t see how they were made, so we don’t give it two thoughts. We are happy with the price of the products; it benefits us not to question it. Capitalism would prefer to keep its manufacturing secret out of the public consciousness.
2. Factory farming and the condemnation of hunting
Putting aside the meat eating vs. vegetarian/vegan debate, let’s look at how society deems it acceptable to get meat vs. how it deems it unacceptable.
The vast majority of our meat is through factory farming – animals subjected to truly horrendous conditions, possibly caged up for their whole lives, treated and fed poorly, living among disease and death, and then slaughtered ruthlessly. Society, by once again voting with their wallet, has deemed this acceptable.
Let’s compare this to a wild animal, that lives a full life outdoors in its natural habitat. Its free to do as it wants, eat what it wants, mate with who it wants, and will die quickly and with little pain to a hunter after it’s reached a certain age/size. Society, for some reason, has deemed this immoral.
Regardless of your views on hunting (and I have never hunted, for what it’s worth) we can at least all agree that factory farming is atrocious.
Are we making better choices in the supermarket? For an extra $0.13 per egg, you can upgrade from caged hen eggs to free range eggs. Yet, caged hens still make up around half of all egg sales globally. This is improving, but not at a rate that suggests society is taking the issue seriously.
The counter argument is simple. Poverty is rife. We are not talking about iPhones, but cheap food to feed the family. Lab-made alternatives are still far too expensive.
While people in society struggle, we will continue to subject our animals to inhumane conditions.
3. Mental illness and the homeless
The average person will walk past a homeless person on the street and think one of two things:
- They are down on their luck
- They are a drug addict
Rarely will they give a second thought at all. Rarer still will they think, “that person has mental health issues and needs support”.
In a chicken-&-egg-like situation, many believe that the rampant drug use is the cause of the mental health crisis, when the reverse is also true. Rampant mental health issues are causing alarming drug use.
We know that it’s harder for us to take mental health issues as seriously as physical ones. Again, out of sight is out of mind – if we can’t see the issue, we tend to pay less attention to it. Whilst the previous issues are not close to home, this is an issue literally on our street, that we walk past every day. But it still invisible to us because the problem is mental.
The mental health crisis is an epidemic. The strangeness and unnaturalness of modern life leads to abnormal behaviors & traumas, which pass down through generations. These trauma’s, like the mental health problems they cause, are invisible.
We have no idea what someone has been through nor what they are thinking & feeling. All we see is the end product, which on its own is harder to pity.
In the US, nearly a third of 18-25 year old’s are suffering from a mental illness. That number is staggering and has doubled in the last decade.
In sufficient funding and high cost of treatment are exacerbating the problem. It’s a problem that is snowballing out of control, for which society routinely ignores.
4. Wealth inequality
If we could truly comprehend the size of large numbers such as billions or trillions, there would be riots.
If we could understand the absurdity of someone being as rich as Jeff Bezos, whilst the poor starve in the street, I truly believe we would not allow it to happen.
But we cannot. We see numbers on paper with a few extra zeros, and we don’t see how hoarding wealth is completely destructive to our society.
We not only overlook wealth inequality in our own country (which is enormous) but the difference in wealth between developed & developing countries too (which is astronomical).
We turn a blind eye to all of it because capitalism got us to where we are today.
We were all born in to capitalism, and if you look around at the rest of the world, it has by comparison made our country incredibly wealthy with a fantastic standard of living and life expectancy.
That makes us quite fond of capitalism. But it does not mean it is the best way to build a society, only the best one so far (and that is debatable!).
This website is focused on helping people build wealth through smart investing strategies. We want to help people cut through the murky financial world and close the income divide between the rich and the poor.
We are helping people play the game of capitalism, but that does not mean we like the game of capitalism or think it is at all fair.
So what can we do?
We cannot care about everything, all of the time. It would drive us all into a deep depression. But when an issue is so pervasive in our world and still ignored by the masses, it becomes a problem with society – with all of us.
I have an iPhone. I am not vegetarian or vegan. I am not a hunter, nor a hunting advocate. I don’t give enough or campaign for help for the mentally ill.
I am not holier-then-thou for writing this, I am part of the problem.
But we can choose to make small changes, if we are not willing to make large ones:
- If we’re not willing to give up our iPhones, we can at least be vigilant and put pressure on the companies not ensuring human rights are upheld in the factories they use
- If we’re not willing to give up or meat, we can eat less meat or lab-grown meat if affordable.
- If we’re not willing to volunteer at homeless shelters, we can help the homeless around us by providing a meal or some change.
In the grand scheme of things, these changes seem minimal. But at the very least, they signal that we are recognizing issues that plague us. That we’re focusing on the right things.
We continue to be outraged about the color of a presidents suit, or the way he shakes someone’s hand, but seemingly oblivious to some utterly inhumane situations. We are all complicit in them happening by our ignorance and lack of action, and future generations may judge us on it.
If we can start by raising awareness, it might initiate wider conversations. Not ignoring and overlooking an issue is the first step towards taking positive action. Let’s hope we all wake up to the real issues plaguing our world.