Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Indulge to your Heart's Content


1943:

Materialism is rampant. Our thirst for the material satisfactions of life is insatiable. To get the things we want, we take trees out of forests, put people in slums and factories and enslave animals. The rich have made fortunes - wherever’s a benefit to them, they’ve taken it, and without restraint.



Perhaps we’re all complicit since we humans dominate all other species, so that we can do as we please. Apart from a few viruses that we don’t yet control, all other life forms are subject to human whim. Anything useable is used and anything that gets in our way is got rid of. If any human population falls out of line, we bomb it. If any useful animal, like a kangaroo, can’t be farmed, we hunt it. If any life form becomes an uncontrollable pest, like the rabbit, we spread disease amongst it to eradicate it. Humans will stop at nothing to be in control. And whatever we do is done with violence and without a second thought.

         

Control through violence is passed on, from generation to generation, and initially this appeals to young people who only see the advantages to themselves. They don’t know any different. Their mantra is “Live now”. They adopt a carefree approach to all things. That is, until they begin to see through it all.

         

Who is there to guide them? Older people are almost all compromised, and anyway, they’re intimidated by youth, finding young people’s vitality and spontaneity so exciting they hardly dare to criticise them for any lack of responsibility or lack of independent thinking. Conversely, young people don’t usually find their elders inspiring or exciting at all, and turn to their peers for support, which exposes them to peer pressure, group thinking and a lot of unthought-out behaviour. Thus, we are as we are, and will remain so, unguided and prone to the quick, violent ways of our elders.

         

The Animal Rights movement is hopefully brave enough to make a bold stand against one of the greatest irresponsibilities of our time - the message, concerning the abuse of food animals, may just be enough to reverse today’s indulgent trend and bring back some sanity to our increasingly uncivilised society.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Involvement


1942:
Most people today are involved in a live-now-pay-later culture, believing that debts incurred will never have to be paid back. As with money so with every other material advantage - we accumulate useful stuff and don’t care about the damage caused in getting it or wasting it, when we no longer want it. We celebrate the abundance of things because there seems to be so much for the taking. We believe there’s nothing to pay back because it’s all free - the air, the water, the soil, the flora, the fauna - we take it all for granted and throw away what we don’t use. We either live high on the hog or we aspire to it. Our wastefulness and narcissism imprints on each succeeding generation.


Until we come to today when we hardly notice that our ‘smash and grab’ attitude is out of control. We no longer pass on to the young a sense of responsibility and frugality, instead we show them that life can be lived almost entirely for pleasure.

   

Probably the greatest pleasure comes at the expense of exploiting animals. There are rich pickings here. The supply of animal product has become endless, although there’s been a hidden price to pay - animal farmers have had to inflict ever greater cruelty on animals, to keep costs down, to keep prices low in response to fierce competition.

        

Our society lays-to-waste on a grand scale - throughout the animal-eating world vast numbers of defenceless animals are massacred (at a rate of 1500 deaths per second), and we do it because we can, because they can’t fight back, because the customer wants cheap food and because there are always unethical operators willing to undercut less-unethical operators. It’s a fact that all omnivores are caught up in this. And vegans aren’t.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Attachment and Detachment


1941:

What does it feel like to ‘respect’? When I’m deciding who or what to respect, or when to develop a relationship or when to trash things that are no longer useful, I find it’s easy to like the likeable. I can show amazing loyalty and affection for the loveable. Conversely, with the ugly or used-up, I notice how uninterested I can be.



I can see how it happens, with things I acquire but then get bored with, even friends I make who I lose interest in. I know it even happens with companion animals, who don’t have the same fascination as when they first appear on the scene. But whether it’s possessions, friends, cats or even gardens, they each have the power to benefit us or bring us down, depending on how we treat them.



I’ve found (rather too late in life) that in order to stabilise my relationships with anything or anyone I mustn’t try too hard. With people, as soon as a difference appears a threat is felt, as if they want me to be like them, or them like me. I don’t have that trouble with another species. It’s all easy enough with dogs and cats, because they don’t pretend to be other than what they are, and that’s so endearing. I’m happy to be around them - they’re always ready to play, and dogs especially are so loyal and affectionate, just as cats can be so intimate. They make me aspire to be close and affectionate myself. So, I’d say that animals can bring the best out in me, and squash any inferior/superior preoccupations.



The influence of a cat or a dog lets me see my sensitive nature but not necessarily my goodness, because with the less-dear or the less-loveable (human or non-human) I don’t act so honourably. That smelly homeless man, asking me for money. I ignore him. Or that not-so-attractive animal I might have eaten at dinner, In ignore any feelings that might spring up on the animal’s behalf. But this is where I’m sorely tested.



If I take a dislike to an animal (because I want to eat it) their feelings can easily be forgotten. They pose no threat, so I can say, “They can’t possibly hurt me even if I ignore them or hurt them. They have no power or hold over me”.

         

It’s easy to show my kindness to a cute puppy or a family member, but I don’t have the same inclination towards a stranger and feel even less to an anonymous farm animal that’s going to be turned into food.





But all that is changing. Now, in this age, I’m becoming more conscious of a shift taking place, where the hard-nosed human is starting to look ridiculous and the once reviled soft-hearted (“bleeding heart”), gentler, kinder character is winning favour. I can see the balance-point changing here - moving away from dominance and force to a subtler, gentler approach. We’re still in transition, things still blow hot and cold, but something is happening - a move towards the kinder and compassionate is looking to a lot of people like the intelligent way to go. The loyal, mature, sophisticated approach fits better with this ‘age of relationships’ - we’re learning how to relate to things, to people, to the disabled, to minority groups, to farm animals, to forests, etc. I suppose we are beginning to see the advantages of acting more interactively, symbiotically and more altruistically. It’s no longer such a foreign idea , to think in terms of sustainability being a vital necessity.

         

And before I get carried away with speculation on the ideal present and ideal future, there’s another important binding factor - doing the right thing. Once a duty or a strictness or a discipline is now becoming an enjoyment. Perhaps I don’t have to earn merit points and get your approval for what I do. Maybe it comes with the territory, of being less in need of outside encouragement. I see possibilities where before I saw obstacles.



If we are about to rescue our species from ignominy, it will surely be by way of a willing change, an attractive change, shifting the ‘conceptual framework’ of ‘right action’. And in helping to repair the damage we humans have done, it becomes the most fulfilling thing we could ever possibly think about doing. Enjoying doing it, in other words. Work as play as work.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Love


1940:

Love is one of those words which could easily be misunderstood. It’s over-used today. It can have enough sickly- sweet overtones to stop the word ever being mentioned. But love isn’t quite everything anyway, surely? Life isn’t just a matter of showering love on everything we see. In the material world, we have to attend to needs like clothing and washing, looking after our machinery. However, love can be turned around to be used for good purpose – like when we ‘love’ the fridge. It does a lot for us and deserves to be loved. It keeps our food cool and our beer cold. The fridge and the computer and the car, they each deserve respect, yes, and even love.



Our high-ideal lifestyles often show disrespect for ‘things’, and if we think of animals as mere ‘things’ that same attitude of disrespect is applied to them too, especially if they’re a source of our food.



We’re good at ‘loving’ but not always consistent with it. It’s often completely absent in our attitude concerning cruelty to animals. Somehow, we think it’s normal and therefore okay, because we’re real nice, loving people in other quarters of our life. So maybe, somehow, killing animals could be an act of love!! And the animals pleased to be of service!!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Extra Dimension to Life


1939:



If ‘vegan’ means more to us than just food, then it might be a new basis for our thinking. If you can ever see yourself as a guardian, as being protective and independent, then you’re on the way to meeting your ideals.


As a sort of patron-saint of lost causes, the vegan animal rights activist is always going to be on the side of the most vulnerable, the ones who no one else thinks about. There are no rewards, no praise, no encouragement, no notice taken of what you do. But if approval doesn’t matter much then you might just make it - to become one of the planet’s natural caretakers.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Coming Home


1938:

As confused humans, we feel happy being part of the dominant species, tempered by a belief that fun is bad, but not all fun. Yes, much IS bad, because it’s based on things we damage). Take for instance the ‘sheer enjoyment factor’ without the exploitative element in it. Imagine us using resources sustainably and sensitively? How proud we would be of ourselves.



It’s like when you come home from a holiday with big ideasnaa you watch them fade fast as you return back to where you were at. We get back to normal, doing the usual things, taking initiatives, cooking dinner - habits taking over.



Is it possible for our evening to be free of any element of damage? The goal here is surely to satisfy our need for sheer enjoyment whilst adopting a no-damage policy towards things, animals, people and even ideas.


Monday, March 20, 2017

A Conversation


1937:

People are afraid of getting tangled up in awkward situations, and veganism IS an awkward situation. Each fact concerning the treatment of farm animals can be a bomb shell, guaranteed to ignite a scene, especially with vegans probing attitudes too deeply for comfort.

What have we got here? A vegan pointing out some horrible fact (uninvited, unwanted details). You have to give some sort of polite response. Unwittingly, you deepen your involvement by asking a question. Could be, that you open the flood gates, and as the answer broadens into un-asked-for information, so it becomes more difficult to continue conversing. You feel yourself descending into a conversation-trap, where you’re either going to end up looking like a fool or an unfeeling bastard.



So, here are the obvious two questions which we may or may not put: Are humans more entitled to be free than animals?

Are animals (including human animals) more entitled to consideration than inanimate objects?

We could spend a lot of time (fascinatingly) considering this, but right now I’m looking at what’s happening in a conversation between you and me. Facts are one thing, your feelings about me talking to you about Animal Rights is another.