Impressions

The film “No Impact Man” documented the one-year quest of a family of three to make choices that left a good impact on or did not impair the environment. The part of the movie that I felt compelling was how the media, particularly talk show hosts, responded to Colin, the person known as “No Impact Man”. They openly expressed their shock with how Colin’s family was living; one host invited the audience to join in her jest when she asked them if they would be able to live that way, expecting an obvious “no” from the crowd. In contrast, Colin’s family friends are demonstrated to be very accepting of their family and generally regard them as normal people they can enjoy their time with. When their friends asked them some logical questions, such as how they would respond if they were at a friend’s house and were invited to watch television, Colin stated they would join because it was a social occasion. The friends understood, and were willing to listen to the other things the Beavan family was trying their hand at, such as a refrigeration technique and composting/gardening.

In the TED talk entitled “The danger of a single story,” writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about how it can be detrimental to have a view that is limit to only a few facets of a culture, or a general view of another part of the world based on one-sided accounts. She notes that it’s important to hear accounts of life about the non-western world from the regional community. If not written from personal accounts, western writers describing non-western parts of land may feel compelled to give use their limited knowledge about other parts of the world—their assumptions—and it may not include day-to-day normal practices or objects that now exist in non-western society, such as “cars” in Adichie’s Nigerian hometown. I think she makes a striking point about the influence of western literature on her as a child, because we tend to underestimate the ability of children to learn information quickly if it seems like material that is too far advanced for one to understand. However, themes of culture and race in literature could be understood subconsciously, without one knowing that it is a type of culture they are reading about. Adichie suggests that she thought literature could only be about western children eating apples and playing in the snow, and didn’t think anything of it because she wasn’t exposed to other stories that would allow her to gauge its place in the larger community.

The third stanza in the poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” by Wendell Berry describes how one could change their way of thinking to one that embraces the unknown. I enjoyed how it made the point that the questions that are worth engaging with are the ones that don’t have answers. It made an important point that some situations can’t be controlled entirely by us and perhaps shouldn’t be, because there is beauty in observing what possibilities may result when we don’t intervene. It seems to challenge a way of thinking—turning it on its head when it suggests to claim leaves to be “harvested” once they’ve rotted into the mold, which in this case would provide nutrients and may be good for the environment.

“Two Economies” by Wendell Berry in the same way challenges us to rethink our way of living by considering what type of larger economy we’re all a part of, whether we’re aware of it or not. The first paragraph starting on page 6 describes how value is something that exists in nature without our needing to assign value to it. The way we divide things into groups is an “artificial” way of putting life into quantifiable measures of value, according to Berry. I think it’s a good thing to take a step back and regain a perspective of things that take into account what is truly important. Sometimes we don’t realize what things truly mean and how important some things are to others until it’s too late. Allowing oneself to actively look at things a different way each day helps one become a more open-minded thinker.

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