Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Looking for a better way

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.


  1. ye gods, but this is a big one.

    i fear the bucket-of-blood slinging types have done the argument for veggie/vegan living a great disservice. as you said, this is a giant triggery issue and people tend to shut down when faced with raging zealotry. still -- i understand the force of passion and so understand why the blood was slung.

    still, if it's minds you're hoping to change, it needs to be done without the theatrics, methinks.

    for me, it's very big picture. we live right in the middle of farm country -- mostly dairy but with more than a few chicken factories and a smattering of beef herds (although, thankfully, very small scale and mostly pastured - no feedlots). the evidence of the vast market for this stuff is wickedly clear....and the thought of all of that simply 'going away' seems utterly improbable. and if i let myself collapse into that thought, i end up in a very dark, spirally place from which i may never return. so i have to try and find the middle ground -- to meet people halfway.

    i preach the ethical raising of food animals -- it's like a stepping stone to a higher consciousness, i think. it makes people at least consider that what's on their plate used to be alive and so then they can consider what sort of life it had before it landed in their sandwich. intelligent, big-hearted people immediately see the obvious difference between a free-range chicken and one crammed beak-to-arse in a windowless shed with several hundred thousand others.

    this year we're raising turkeys and chickens. it wasn't my idea - i only wanted to be able to provide happy eggs -- but this upcoming holiday season, 7 families will be sitting down to their traditional dinner with a turkey that roamed and plundered and sunbathed and dustbathed like turkeys were meant to do. which means 7 less turkeys lived and died abhorrently for the sole purpose of a 'celebratory' dinner.

    by the same token, the people to whom i sell my happy hen eggs, are no longer buying battery eggs -- and i make a point of reminding them (quietly and non-preachily) about that every time i hand them a dozen...thanking them for making that choice. people who feel good about their choices, tend to make them more often. when they make them more often, it becomes non-negotiable (sort of like eating cheap meat sandwiches) and pretty soon, they're open to expanding their thinking even further.

    so that's a very long-winded way of saying -- living the good example probably is the better way. meeting people halfway, showing them the stepping stones and baby steps....

    honey vs. vinegar.

    and accepting that there are people who will never change, who can't/won't -- so it's better to devote your passion and energies to the people whose minds and hearts are open.

    7 turkeys, 4 chickens and a few dozen eggs isn't very much of a billion -- and it's not the Absolute you believe in -- but i figure it's a step in the right direction.

    so glad for this conversation -- thank you for making me think about this stuff.


  2. the only way i know to do this is to stay in my business.
    properly and completely.
    to know and to practice that it is absolutely none of my business what anybody else thinks, feels, says or does.
    really believing knowing doing this has set me free.
    because everytime I wanted someone to think, feel, say or do something differently it was so that I could feel better.
    now I'm like: you can do whatever the hell you want. i love you. I'm going to take care of me.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. But Sas, the essence of this problem (animal abuse for the satiating of human appetite for tasty noms - which is not an opinion, it's a fact, check out the slaughterhouses) is the very attitude you espouse. 'I'm going to take care of me'. In many contexts I would agree. As I said in my post (personal opinion), in my big picture, very little in this life actually matters so let's go for personal freedom and peace. But this isn't about making me feel better - trust me, if the whole world stopped eating meat there would still be plenty of abuse going on somewhere that would hurt my heart - it's about the voiceless innocents who also deserve to be looked after. Where are THEIR rights to look after themselves? They cannot speak the way we do so we have to do it for them. What I'm looking for is a way to do it intelligently, effectively (provoking thought and compassion before actual change) and without alienation. As you can see...it's a struggle. I guess I'm talking about advocacy and there are some superb advocates put there who I need to talk with. First. And with love in my heart for all concerned.
    Our society is pretty fucked up because we continue to believe that if we were all happy we'd all channel Mother Theresa and the world would be healed. True enlightenment is one thing, happy is another. I don't believe (in as much as I know anything) that enlightenment is about being happy. Happy people are very often selfish people and 90% of the time...so what? The other 10% can be pretty devastating though.

  5. P.S. The comment I removed was simply a duplicate of Sas's original : )

  6. so saving all the animals from their suffering will make you feel better :)

    being in my own business about what I consume (food and otherwise) is about conscious choice for me. I can't make anyone eat or buy (or not eat/not buy) what I think is best.

    But i do want to be informed - I want those choices I am making to be conscious.

    And thats why your work is SO awesome!

    I think our society is running perfectly! its exactly what we’ve created. and if we don’t like something we have choices to do something/anything/many things differently for ourselves - to me, thats enlightenment.


    ps: Mother Teresa was hardly a proponent of healing. She created poverty - she refused to advise anyone about how to protect against unwanted pregnancy or abortion which doomed hundreds of thousands of girls and women. Because she believed in being in everybody's business. On behalf of god.

  7. No, I just said, it will not make me feel better. It is not about me. Do you really think our society is running perfectly? Seriously? You may have choice...many - human and non-human - have it stolen from them every day.
    Mother Theresa: yes. I know. But you know what I meant. In the public consciousness she still embodies that concept. Sadly.
    I continue to believe in the power of and the need for advocacy beyond total focus on ourselves. In another argument, there IS no Self anyway. Hurt Life and you hurt everything, including the illusory individual.

  8. I'm with Mel.
    We are face to face. In fact, we are blood, erm ... blood.
    And I raise animals to eat.
    I despise factory farming, and my only tip on this subject is don't, please don't conflate the two.
    If the choice were to eat meat you have met, or eat no meat, I think a lot of people would be vegetarian. So in that respect it would help.
    There are issues I care about as deeply, and one of those has recently affected our family.
    You know what it was.
    And no, I didn't know what to do either.
    I had exactly the same options. Shut up and hang onto the pain, or upset someone. No,make that everyone.
    All I can say is ... I care. You care. About different things in different degrees but we care.
    That's a thing in common.
    And in this world, currently? If you got one o those. Hang onto it.