When it comes to freely expressing my opinions I tend to work in one of two ways. I'm either calm and deep in my conviction, or I'm explosive and deep in my conviction. The deciding factor seems to be whether or not the topic up for discussion is merely personal opinion or is something that involves actual suffering for me or someone else. So, in effect, I'm able to walk the 'lead by example' line as long as I believe that whatever The Other Side decides in the end, it's no biggie if we disagree. And most of life falls into that category for me. I'm quite 'Big Picture'.
But put me in any debate on a moral issue - not just animal welfare but yes, that's my focus - and I'm rubbish. I find it almost impossible to be calm and instead I fall into the method that alienates people. So I'm asking you (yes, you three) for advice on how to remain calm about the outcome when the outcome really matters.
This is my question, how does one walk away and say,'The world is unfolding just as it should. The pain and suffering just 'are'. There will always be suffering. There will always be a shadow side to life. It is my role to simply shine my light more brightly. Behold, how shiny I am.'? And, um, why?
Because I believe in shining your light in the darkness, I really do. And I do believe in individual freedom. And I don't appreciate having opinions forced on me although I do try to listen just in case my head's up my backside, and I do find it remarkably easy to turn on my heel and walk away, which for most of us is a simple solution. But when there is brutality in the world that has been normalised; to which many millions of people have become desensitized to the point where it's good joke fodder...what do you do? How do you bite your tongue and just vaguely hope that people will change?
My personal belief is that until we end the use of other beings to literally chew up and spit/shit out without much thought beyond #allthenoms, we will never raise the vibration of the human race to anything that is capable of saving itself and the planet it lives on. And maybe that is the world unfolding as it should but I love humans as much (almost) as I love other species so that prospect makes me sad.
Tell me, how do you present your strongest beliefs? What works for you? Is the example of good living really the only acceptable way these days? Where is the middle ground between that and (in this case) the raging, bucket-of-blood swinging activists at the extremes of the animal rights movement?
This is not about influencing others to perhaps take up exercise, shop locally, volunteer at a soup kitchen, downsize their car, meditate, or leave sweet notes for strangers. Those things are wonderful and totally worth modelling and promoting because when the choice made is 'no thanks', no one is dying a horrible death in order to make a cheap sandwich that will probably end up at the side of a road, or an ugly handbag that'll wind up in a boot sale as soon as a more fashionable one is available.
There are some who will never change. Perhaps they genuinely can't or perhaps their life is just too hard on a daily basis to consider changing something so fundamental. I understand that. Feel compassion and acceptance for that. But there are others who enjoy great freedom and have deep intelligence and big hearts who just...refuse. That's where my compassion disappears, to be replaced by frustration on a good day and anger on a bad. That is part of my shadow side, I guess.
I need to work out how to speak about these things without making people mad but people (me included sometimes) get awfully touchy when you challenge their core habits. Especially around food! How do we resensitize? Before it's too late.
The health reasons for not eating animals are well-documented. That's an easy one with which to lead by example. Wanting an end to the suffering involved...why isn't it just plain bloody obvious? I genuinely don't understand how it's possible to be all,'Well of course it's a personal choice' about it, anymore than I could be that way about beating children. Yes. I just said that.
Among the friends I spend actual face-to-face time with - and I am blessed, at least until I publish this, with many - I can count the vegans/100% plant-based on the fingers of one, er, finger. Some of the smartest, nicest people I know and love are meat-eaters and a few of you read this blog. So, if you can think of some other topic that you've struggled with in this way and can throw me a few ideas on how to communicate in a useful way, or perhaps you have tips on this one you want to share, please do. There has to be a better way than mine and I need to find it. Because this matters.