Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dealing with loneliness

Let’s face it, a tiny, tiny minority are vegans. We are outsiders and will remain so until substantial numbers of people start to take vegan principle seriously. It’s debilitating to be alone, so we gravitate to a group. We form escape teams to give us a better chance. Groups forms and a movement builds and strengthens but at the same time other problems appear. As soon as that edge is gone and it feels more comfortable being with like minds, the social safety of belonging to a group sucks the guts out of the initial impetus for escape. We get diverted into actions, all justified, all with the appearance of us being effective. From there we fall into delusion that things are changing, when the changes are pathetically small and insignificant. That’s the interesting thing about all ‘new age’ movements, they show us how-it-could-be, they highlight the need to escape, they never mention the loneliness. All of this comes when we consider taking on a radical viewpoint.
Perhaps two extremes have a pull on us here. The need to be with others and the need to break away from others. It feels like living a contradiction when we’re with people we don’t really agree with. The same applies for others when they’re with us, wanting to avoid us because we make them feel uncomfortable.
Animal rights is about introducing values that we may have not heard of before. Most omnivores haven’t even considered that animals deserve the right to a life. A vegan would be expanding responsibilities while omnivores are self protecting and not wanting to be open to new values. Animals present us with a dilemma because some animals are so famous for being so badly treated. If I said to you fox, you’d say ‘hunt’. If I said chicken, you’d say battery egg. Each exploited animal has their own particular association with cruelty. The chimpanzee going insane in a cage in a science lab, a breeding sow restricted in an ‘iron maiden’ sow stall, the dairy cow a genetic freak milk-making machine. Today we know so much of what happens to animals much of which was not known forty years ago. Most adults are aware of the cruelty and find knowing about it uncomfortable. Vegans will never pass up an opportunity to tell others about it so we seem to be helping people spoil their day by bringing up these issues.
For us it’s not only the loneliness a castaway might feel on a dessert island, it’s a loneliness self imposed by our deliberate disassociation with others. We boycott products in a food store but we also have to boycott certain social events like barbeques and restaurants both of which stink of the cremated remains of animals. And for that we may be hated or disliked.
It’s not unlikely that vegans are vilified, and maybe that’s why we need a way of dealing with this loneliness AND the vilification all at the same time. Vegans are at the very least self developers but we have to take into account our need for other people and to be friendly to those we might be in judgement of.

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