Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Toxic Legacy: A Representation of American Culture

By Lauren Haag

In my early stages of adjusting to and becoming a Ramapo student, my freshmen year, I heard words on the Ford dumping which occurred nearby, in the forested area of Ringwood, NJ. I heard bits and pieces on how it affected the Ramapough Indians and the Ramapo River, for whom and what, as I was told, the school was named for. I thought this was something typical that every Ramapo student will become aware of, because of its relationship to our college.

However, that is not the case. I’m not even sure how much correlation between the Ramapough Indians and Ramapo College truly exists, if any. The only thing truthful about the assumed first year Ramapo introduction statement seems to be that the company, Ford, did indeed dump toxic waste leading to many deleterious results.

Ford is a large company, one we’ve all heard of, as Americans, as Ramapo College students. It was one of the first car producers in our history, and well recognized for that feat. What is most striking about the entire situation is that this company, Ford, so well known to us all, would commit such an irresponsible act. Not only did Ford managers have no regard for their actions, they denied them and avoided the consequences at all lengths, as detailed in The Record’s “Toxic Legacy” investigative series.

Ford is a very American company, in traditions, history, and representation. For Ford to show more regard for cost and convenience, than human lives, is a statement about business in this country. That the entire dumping situation could occur, the repercussions prolonged a long with the effects, is also representative of our country and our priorities. For such a larger and well known company to be so successful in hiding and avoiding the issue for so long, is telling, raising also the question how many other organizations and corporations could be doing the same, if not worse.

The whole situation reminds me of what is happening in food industries. We’re polluting the earth in multiple places with our ear to ear cattle farming, leading to ear to ear feces. Constantly E-coli is infecting our food supply, killing and harming our citizens. Companies like Tyson and EB eggs are everywhere, purchased every day, but where is the truth about the irresponsibility in their production? Why is it that so few know the truth, in both situations, Ford and Tyson?

I think there is much reflection of our culture in these issues. We’re all so focused on convenience and cost, the details just slip under the surface. As producers and consumers, we’re not focused enough on the resulting loss these details cause. Our relationship to the environment, the natural processes of the world, is so detached that we don’t even concern ourselves with them. In order to avoid and stop these contaminations, both of the system and ourselves, we have to be more in touch with the natural world.

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