Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Guest Commentary: Pollution of the mind as harmful as of the air

August 30, 2006

Just the other day I overheard someone say, "They have poisoned the water, you know. They have laced the air we breathe with toxins and poisoned the food we eat. They have even poisoned the apples our children eat, the very milk they drink."

The "they" such alarmists are talking about are scientists, technologists, corporations and farmers/ranchers.

In our contemporary society, people one or two generations removed from the land live in sprawling suburbs. Men whose fathers worked the fields with mules, horses and later tractors sit behind desks and computers, serving a public they never see or know.

Everyday life continues to change. The world as we knew it a few short years ago is different today. Television has replaced traditional sources of learning and made our world smaller.

Journalists and scientists continue to act in ever-increasing roles of public advocacy. Self-proclaimed environmentalists declare yet another ecosystem endangered.

What is the public to think?

While Americans say they still believe in science, in many cases the "science" they believe in includes astrology, yoga, psychics and ESP. Many people today will tell you they believe in ghosts and telepathy.

A recent survey found that half of our U.S. adult population does not understand that the earth revolves around the sun. Estimates indicate that less than 10 percent of adults could be considered scientifically literate.

Today, we're seeing not only in the media but also in our culture a lack of regard and belief in the sciences. Many disregard science. They say it has little or no social value.

Look at some of the articles and news stories on television that proclaim that the improved health statistics in our modern times are a result -- not of medical advancement -- but of changes in lifestyles that include jogging, diet, etc. While sensibly taking care of yourself is beneficial, remember that medical advancements have improved our health remarkably.

And what about our schools today? What are we teaching our children -- the leaders of tomorrow? Better yet, what are they learning? What kind of a foundation are they building upon?

As we continue to change in our fast-moving world, don't forget that the most vital resources we have are not the environment or the welfare of our people, but a society that values its environment and its people.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher, once said, "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you."

Yes, everyone wants clean water today. We all want clean air. Everyone wants a greener planet.

Environmental groups cry out to rid our environment of "poisons." As we search for the Holy Grail of material purity, always remember -- there are poisons that pollute the mind.

John Schlageck has been writing about farming and ranching in Kansas for more than 25 years. He is the managing editor of "Kansas Living," a quarterly magazine dedicated to agriculture and rural life in Kansas.

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