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September 25, 2011 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Why We Should Give a Shit

When I was 11 I was pissed off. Riled up, red in the face, cheated and angry.

I had spent months upon months of going on anti-Genetic Engineering marches; pasting stickers and posters reading ‘GE Free NZ’ everywhere; persuading my parents to shop religiously with the GE Free shopping guide—not to mention risking social exclusion by earning myself the label of ‘dirty hippy’ after getting preachy about the topic at my intermediate speech competition. And after all that, ‘Corngate’ broke, and the government was accused of covering up the accidental release of GE-contaminated corn seeds in the country.

I expressed my extreme outrage in a long and strongly-worded (for an 11-year-old) letter to Helen Clark. I’m not sure if it was my over-zealous use of commas or choosing to write in Comic Sans MS that gave me away, but instead of receiving a thoughtful, personalised and adult letter to match mine, I was fobbed off with a ‘GE and You’ information pack for children. At the time I was annoyed, even hurt, that my government thought I could be so easily appeased, simply because I wasn’t of voting age. I had spent hours researching, writing and editing that letter, only to receive a glossy booklet that did nothing to address the issues I had raised, but simply explained to me “What is Genetic Engineering?”. When I was older, I vowed, I would use my pull as a voter to try to change society into the place I wanted to live.

Nine years on from that incident however, and although I may have stopped using Comic Sans and excessive commas, I’m certainly not making the most of my advanced years to right society’s wrongs. Although there are still issues that get me hot under the collar, and certainly things I would like to see changed, the truth is that for the most part, I just don’t give a shit. And it’s not just about genetic engineering, or politics in general—I’ve no idea where the fiery passion of my childhood has gone, but these days I’m hard-pressed to give a rat’s arse about most things. In 2000, I would go hungry at times in order to avoid eating battery-farmed chicken. Now it’s 2011, and after attempting vegetarianism for two weeks, I decided that I didn’t really care anyway, and ate three mince pies in the space of an hour.

Although my childhood protestations had a notably political bent, no matter what our cause, there is no denying that most of us were far more passionate as children and teenagers. Oh, how we stuck it to the man with our temper tantrums, slamming of doors and rolling of eyes.

But now that we are older and capable of constructing a reasoned argument, why aren’t we using this ability to protect the things we hold dear? It seems a shame that we’ve lost our mojo just as we reach an age where society will actually take us seriously.

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we just don’t care; that there’s no point in trying, because even if we did it probably wouldn’t make a difference anyway. It’s easy to think that we’re above being outraged, too cool to get worked up, and too old to throw a tantrum. Yes, it’s easy not to give a shit—but when we let our apathy rule, we risk losing the things we really do give a shit about.

Whatever your cause—whether it be big or small—stand up, speak out, and do something about it. Maybe it’s the cuts to tertiary education that have got a bee in your bonnet; maybe you just paid way too much for a wrap that was actually pretty substandard at Wishbone. Pissed off, riled up, red in the face, cheated and angry? Then do something about it. It’s that simple.


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  1. Electrum Greenstone says:

    ” [Y]ou may be feeling a bit baffled to find yourself reading an article written by that notorious carnivore Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall about the joys of eating less meat. I can appreciate that. But I really have been eating a lot less meat lately and I’m feeling almost evangelical about persuading other people to do the same.


    ” [M]y tendency now is very much towards meals that give equal weight to several different dishes. Much as I enjoy generous one-pot vegetarian curries, hotpots and lasagnes, I find there’s something particularly enticing about a meal made up of several “small” dishes, such as you get with Middle Eastern meze, Spanish tapas, Scandinavian smörgåsbords or Italian antipasti. Vegetable cookery lends itself to such pick-and-mix spreads. It’s all so much less predictable and more fun than being a slave to meat.


    ” [T]his issue isn’t about giving anything up, it’s about filling your boots: embracing a world of fabulous, fresh ingredients and finding some new and irresistible ways to cook and serve them. The crucial thing is the mental shift: after that, I predict you will find it a breeze. “

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