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SpaceLogo Sciences Participating with Arts & Culture in Education

By Florencia Vallejo May 1, 2018

Not Alone

Illustrated by William Bissonnette

 “Ok, so what did you put down for entropy?”

“Well, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, entropy is “a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder, that is a property of the system's state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system.”

“What?”

“I learned a simpler definition in school. More like an example, not a definition. My science teacher said that entropy is how you can break something but never un-break it. Like an egg. Do you think it applies to humans, too? I’ve been broken before. Although I’m not fully put back together, I would like to believe that I can be…

Silence.

Did I just make things awkward?

“Merriam-Webster also defines entropy as ‘a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder’. That sounds familiar.

I’ve also heard that entropy can be defied. That one can go against it. But to do so, force and energy is required. Now, what happens when force and energy also cause disorder? Force and energy are required for both processes. They’re both, the cure and the poison.

When I was younger, I believed that making myself thin would put my world in order. I used lots and lots of force and energy running, crunching, restricting, counting calories, dieting. I put so much force and energy into it that it became normal. It was effortless. Everyone said I had an eating disorder, but all I thought was how my eating was in order. In order of calories, portions, grams, etc. Funny thing is recovery took the same force and energy. I moved from my disorder into a new order. Thinking about it this way, order and disorder become subjective.

I’ve now embodied what it means to use force and energy to order something. I see it every day: to have my grades in order, I use lots of force and energy. Same with cleaning my room, working out, etc. Some require a bit more force and energy than others. For the most part, my world is in order, because I like it that way.

However, I acknowledge that it’s not always me who puts this force and energy.

I acknowledge my privilege.  I see how, for me to be studying abroad, my father puts lots of force and energy into his job. I see how, for me to buy a sandwich, someone has to make it. I know that, for me to watch a movie, someone had to film it. For me to recover, my family had to support me, my friends had to comfort me, my doctors had to help me, my therapist had to listen to me nonstop… It isn’t just me. It’s not all about me…”

“Ok, so I put down the second definition.”

“I always talk about me, though. You know? For me to have my world in “order”, others are experiencing disorder. If I’m not putting force and energy for the STM metro to pass, then who is? If I’m not putting force and energy into the restroom being clean, who is? If I’m not watering plants and planting trees, who is? If I’m not putting force and energy to change laws and legislation, who is? If I’m not sewing my clothes, assembling my sisters’ toys, or putting together my iPhone, who is?

These invisible labourers too, as much as my father who’s working hard, must be acknowledged, recognized, respected. This is why it is important to give a cordial “bonjour” and a “bonsoir” to the STM driver. Why the cleaning staff, at the very least, should get a “thanks” and a smile. Why activist and reformists, whenever possible, should get our support. This is why one should advocate for ethical consumerism, worker rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, human rights. Why would you spend your money, which cost you force and energy, into a company that puts people’s life’s’ at risk? It’s a waste of money, a waste of time. You don’t have time to check which companies are ethical and care about their workers’ rights? Well, that young women in Bangladesh didn’t have time to run out of the factory before it burned. That child didn’t have time to say goodbye to his father before he went off to harvest coffee for seventeen cents a day, to be later deported. I’m privileged. That’s not bad, as long as I use my privilege to help.”

“Ma’am, please keep quiet in the library or get out.”

About the author

Florencia Vallejo was born in Mexico and lived in Cancun her whole life. She moved to Montreal at 16 and is now in her fourth semester at Dawson College in A.L.C: Arts and Culture profile. She plans on studying Women and Gender studies at Concordia University and continues to write academically and creatively, leaving meaningful words as her mark in the world.

About the illustrator

William Bissonnette is a student in the Illustration program at Dawson College. His passion for the arts was sparked by Beatrix Potter’s children books featuring her own illustrations. You can view more of William's work through the following link: https://www.instagram.com/wllmbssnntt_art/.

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