Gallons of Light

A few weeks ago I watched the documentary ‘I am’ by director Tom Shadyac. This movie resonated deeply in the core of my being. In the last five years, many of the things that I had thought of as important have changed greatly. Not long ago, acquiring the latest styles in fashion and jewellery, where I was going to vacation next, and what everyone was buying and wearing, had seemed terribly important.

I thought of individuals who spoke out against multinational corporations, as “granola crunchers”. I saw older people who chastised me about not voting as “old-hippies”. In reality, I was apathetic. I was blind. The truth of the matter was, like Tom Shadyac, I was sick.

But, slowly I got better. Perhaps it was due to becoming a nurse and caring for the ill and dying? Possibly it was my discovery of Buddhism? Maybe, it was my self-awaking to the things that I truly valued?  Honouring and cherishing love, health, family, friends, nature and the environment are what now drive my daily existence.

Like Tom, I have great concerns over how humans are living in this world. Western values are spreading globally. Money, wealth and the accumulation of possessions are now synonymous with success and happiness. Yet, we never seem to make enough money or have enough things.  I feel as though this need for instant gratification becomes worse with every generation. Many times, I have felt that humanity is like a cancer on this earth. This movie clip from ‘The Matrix’ comes to mind when I am feeling particularly saddened by the atrocities I see in the news each day.

A prime example of the need for instant gratification is easily seen on Facebook. On Facebook, acquaintances show off their newest purchases. Whether it be a trip , a home, a car, the most cutting-edge phone or a luxury watch; the latest custom in our society is to flaunt your newest acquisition on Facebook.  In fact, there is a new application called pin-terest , where you share all the latest objects you are intending to purchase in the future. I feel it is all just fuel for the fire. It reminded me of a quote from the book the Hobbit , where a dwarf king’s greed gets so out of control that it is described as an illness.

“Thror’s love of gold had grown too fierce, and a sickness had begun to grow within him. It was a sickness of the mind, and where sickness thrives, bad things will follow.” (Tolkien, J.R.R, 1937)

Wouldn’t it be amazing, if that was how our society saw aggressively competitive co-workers and millionaires? All of a sudden they would not be seen as ambitious intelligent go-getters, but un-civilised greedy sociopaths.

There is a documentary film, ‘I am Fishead’, that compares high powered successful CEO’s to sociopaths. I feel that is a very accurate comparison. In the 2010 study, ‘Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk’, researchers discovered that “3 to 6 percent of corporate employees may be responsible for the majority of ethical breaches in corporations, with corporate psychopathy tending to be concentrated at the higher levels of organisations” (Babiak, Neumann& Hare, 2010. p187)

Corporate psychopaths often display outstanding communication skills, ingenuity and strong strategic thinking (Babiak, Neumann& Hare, 2010). Coupled with charismatic, confident facades and manipulative personalities they are seen as great leaders; many effectively exploit these traits to rise quickly through the ranks and assume senior positions (Babiak, Neumann& Hare, 2010).  Psychopaths are so well adapted to certain positions, such as Chief Executive Officer, some companies deliberately seek them out.  One banking executive reported that the bank he worked for “used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles”(The Daily Kos, 2012).

Given the chance most oil company CEOs would not hesitate to drill in the middle of a national park. The destruction of theses natural environments would deprive future generations the gift of knowing their pristine beauty.  For these executives, the reward of harvesting huge amounts of oil or natural gas is worth the risk of any possible pollution disasters. This almost happened in Canada. Here is a link to a Ted-talk publicizing Shell Oil’s future venture.

If there had not been a social outcry to prevent it, national park of Klappan Valley would have been ruined. It is this example and many like it that give me hope that we are changing for the better as a people.  I do feel that the positive choices we make for the earth and our fellow sentient beings are like wooden twigs, alone they are week and easily broken, together they are strong and cause great impact. I feel that my individual lifestyle choices, although small, will eventually have a larger impact. Here is a list of things I am doing or plan on doing that will impact those around me to change their ways.

1)      Recycling

2)      Buying local

3)      Installing an off-the-grid solar panel energy system to run my home in the next 5 years.

4)       Owning a car, with in the next 3 years, that runs on battery power harvested from the sun.

Yes, these are all small things, but as you know we have great impact on our friends and family. Sometimes small things make big differences.   Enjoy this clip,  “gallons of light”



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3 responses to “Gallons of Light

  1. Hi Allie,

    We must be at the same value stage in life because I agree with your post so much – right down to ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ references (I am a big fan of both). Honestly, it’s a relief to know that someone else was moved by the depressing “humans are like a cancer” scene in The Matrix. The quote from Tolkien reminds me of the part in ‘I Am’ where it mentions too much competition being considered a mental illness. I am interested in the documentary film, ‘I am Fishead’, that compares high powered successful CEO’s to sociopaths, so thanks for sharing.

    My job involves contacting companies to promote the hiring of co-op students and just last week someone told me they had to cut out student hiring for a while in order to cut costs to avoid a rate increase to customers. As soon as I hung up the phone I had a heated discussion with my co-worker about greed. I find it hard to believe that ‘big business’ needs to cut student hiring to save money when I can only imagine what kind of money goes to the CEO and shareholders, etc. It really bothers me to the point that I have made changes to my job. I used to deal with the oil and gas industry at work but traded with a co-worker to take the environmental industry. It’s a lot more work for me because it’s much harder to find jobs in the environmental sector – another reflection of society as less investment is made in that sector and thus fewer jobs for students. I don’t care though. I will work harder for something that reflects my values.

    I could talk forever about this but I better stop as this is getting long and I haven’t even related this to our course! All I can really do is wonder what shapes some people to put material wealth and profit ahead of the good of society? I wonder how they were influenced by their communities of practice and what events in their lives shaped their identity? Now that we are studying “Radical Pedagogy,” by Marck Bracher it’s easier to see how identity issues can lead to social problems and I definitely consider greed at all levels, from individual to corporate, to be a major problem in society.

    Since I’m getting frustrated, I think I’ll end with your lovely quote to get my brain focused on hope and positivity before I sign off, “I do feel that the positive choices we make for the earth and our fellow sentient beings are like wooden twigs, alone they are week and easily broken, together they are strong and cause great impact”. Great words!

    Thanks, Lori .. sorry so long 🙂

  2. Great blog Allie!!
    I feel like you have succinctly captured what many of us feel. After reading Bracher I have to say that I feel less anger for corporations and high level execs and more empathy. Greed is a sickness; it is the most rampant pathology in our society. It causes physiological illness, mental illnesses and leads to psychopathologies. It is a deficiency, a being ‘stuck’ in an imperialist structural way of thinking and being. How do we change this? I think you have answered this also. WE change, we stop buying into capitalism. WE stop demonizing the people who buy in and instead help them to move beyond these imperialist structures. I may sound like a flower child, but crazy as it sounds I buy into this. Having anger is natural, but it also does not lead to good. I have been trying to change for the last few years. I have been trying to do the same things as you: buying local, reducing my carbon footprint, using natural/less environmentally toxic products in my life. As teachers, we have a unique opportunity to help others, to help them see what is truly important and to help them find ways of caring for and being needed by others.
    PS I love the Nissan Leaf, but it’ll only get you ~150km without plugging her in!

  3. Hi Allie,

    You wrote about Facebook. I agree with you about it being a place “flaunt your newest acquisition”. To be honest, when I see all these new posts about how my friends are on some “fabulous vacation” or “just bought a new car, house, etc”. I am happy for them but then begin to compare myself. I think wait a minute we’re the same age! All my friends are doing/buying stuff and I’m not! (Then, I remember I refuse to be in debt forever and I am in full time school and work.)

    Apparently this comparison reaction is not only common, it is normal (Suval, 2012). Research had been conducted and found that Facebook actually causes people to compare their lives to these “updates” and causes people to then have low self-esteem (Suval, 2012). People are not only comparing themselves to one person, it is to multiple updates from multiple people; you’re not just trying to keep up with one member of the Jones Family, but all the Jones relatives (Suval, 2012).

    The article suggests that by being aware of the potential consequences to counteract them we should be more mindful of how we view ourselves (Suval, 2012).


    Suval, L. (2012). Facebook, Happiness and Self-Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 8, 2013, from

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