There’s an image that goes around Facebook, with a man saying to Jesus, why don’t you do something about all the wars and starvation and suffering in the world, how can you just let it go on? Jesus says to the man, I was just about to ask you the same thing. Those aren’t the exact words but I’m sure you get the gist.
I sometimes think if we were to be parachuted down here and saw things with fresh eyes, we’d be amazed at what we accept as normal. What, human beings let other human beings sleep outside? In winter? In sub zero temperatures? But don’t they suffer, don’t they get ill, might they even be at risk of dying of the cold?
Oh yeah, rough sleepers die all the time. But why aren’t you all outside your local city hall, protesting until there’s not one person left without shelter and food? Why don’t you all club together and help those people? What, you mean people just walk right past them? You don’t take them home with you, even when you have spare rooms? You don’t even pay for them to stay the night in a budget hotel? What, sometimes you just walk on by without even stopping to say hello and give them some money or buy them a meal?! What kind of world is this that you live in?
I’m opening with this to make two points: one, that I am most certainly very far from perfect, ethics wise. I have two spare rooms, I do not have homeless people staying with me and sometimes I don’t even stop to give money or food. Two, that what we accept, what we think of as normal, is all down to our conditioning: the ideas we have been fed from early childhood and into our adult lives, from our parents, teachers, other adults, authority figures, the government, the media, advertising and so on, as well as what we actually see around us each and every day, reinforcing what we have been taught, making it seem normal, and well, it’s always been this way.
I am sure you have your own special something that is closest to your heart. This is mine:
I don’t really like having to call myself a vegan. I eat exactly the same foods that everyone does, I mean most people eat vegetables don’t they? But what I don’t eat is animals. To my mind, there shouldn’t even be a word for someone who eats plant based foods, isn’t that what everyone eats; most meat eaters don’t generally eat only meat.
For those of us who love animals, and by this I mean those of us who love ALL animals, not just the ones society labels as pets, wouldn’t it be better to have a word for people who eat animals? But unfortunately for us it isn’t some kind of underground thing, where there’s special clubs, restaurants and hidden away shops where people can go to eat animals, it’s everywhere. It’s in almost every shop and establishment you can think of. It’s so everywhere, that everyone thinks it’s normal. It’s got to be okay, right, because everyone’s doing it? And it’s not like these animals that people are eating committed suicide, died of natural causes, or were accidentally killed (except a very tiny proportion e.g. ‘roadkill’).
They were brought into this world for one purpose only, and then they were transported to a place where, alongside loads of others, they were killed. And it’s not just a few animals, it’s some enormous and wildly depressing number.
To return to the ‘pet animals’ versus ‘food animals’ point, I have known of people having pigs and chickens as pets and being very fond of them, seeing them as having personalities and regarding them as a member of the family. I read about a woman who has a very small flock of sheep and each one comes when she calls their name. Likewise I’ve known British meat eaters getting very upset about dogs being eaten in countries they went to on holiday. I think the distinctions are arbitrary.
I’m not criticising individuals. Like I said, there’s much to criticise in my own life, my car ownership, for example, would seem lazy and careless to some, whilst ‘society’ deems it normal. It is our society and conditioning that I am questioning. Plus, this is my ‘thing’, one of the central pivots that I live by and so I’m sharing what that feels like, I’m opening up to you.