Friday, April 18, 2014

Contradictions...

I saw this online and thought it was very very apt. I got a major hoot out of it...maybe you will too.


I'm profoundly impressed by those brave and excellent humans who are raising their children as vegans. Doing that takes a special kind of fortitude and courage and I salute and honor each and every one doing this service for their child and...in the process...for all the rest of planet Earth.

Think of it this way, there are many many more humans out there who are raising their children (usually the boys, but sometimes girls too) to "hunt". Now think of whether these parents...who are teaching their children to kill other living beings...beings who are doing them no harm and are simply trying to live their lives. Think of these parents and consider whether they ever receive any flack about "brainwashing" their children. Or any sort of negative feedback whatsoever. I betcha it is either minimal or nonextant.

I'm not even going to address the obvious absence of any negative feedback to parents who raise their children to eat the dead bodies of beings who lived briefly in horrid conditions and were then killed for "profit". Who says a word about such "normal" parenting? (aside from maybe us "weird" vegans)

So...raising a child to be kind...to be consistent...to show respect and to be non-harmful to others likely elicits accusations of "brainwashing" and raising a child to harm others and support oppression and horror is...well...normal.

If that doesn't make you reconsider whether "normal" is necessarily a positive...well...you might want to take your reconsider engine in for a tune-up.

In the meantime...if you are a vegan parent raising vegan children...wow...I'm in awe of your courage and your determination. Thank you. Please give yourself a pat on the back and a hug from me. You are amazing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Prophets and bathroom walls...

Way way back in the mists of time, when I was profoundly younger than now, there were many many songs floating around that carried themes of discontent about human society. For instance there was a children's song in 1963 called "Puff the Magic Dragon" (by Peter, Paul and Mary) that was reputed to have all sorts of hidden and subversive meanings associated with it.

A couple of years later Simon and Garfunkel wrote a song that was and is one of my favorites of all time, The Sounds of Silence. In the song, one passage has these words:
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls"
I recalled that particular passage when I ran across a photo included in this post over at the blog called The Sistah Vegan Project (written by Breeze Harper). The  photo was of some writing on a bathroom wall in a building where she was attending a conference. (I'm placing a copy of the photo below but if she doesn't want me to use it I will remove it...you can also see the photo if you click on the link to the post)


Bathroom wall...photo by Breeze Harper
The various scribblings/writings include both the words "vegan" and "speciesism". Maybe, just maybe...the "words of the prophets" are also written on the bathroom walls.

The vegan meme is spreading...in the way too few years I've been vegan I've seen a tremendous change and having those words show up on a bathroom wall...well...that's actually pretty impressive. Of course this bathroom wall apparently was at a fairly erudite place...but still.

Do your part...not by writing vegan on the bathroom walls (or subway and tenement walls)...live vegan...and while you're at it...quit bowing and praying to the neon gods too. (what the heck, go ahead and write on the walls too if the urge moves you)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Afflicting the comfortable...

is part of a phrase I like that describes one of the effects of a protest on behalf of victimized Earthlings. A second part of the phrase is "...comforting the afflicted". I didn't know the author until doing some research via the magic of the internet. It is attributed to a fellow named Finley Peter Dunne who was writing about the power of newspapers (according to the wikipedia article). You can read some of his writing online if you want.


OKC circus protest...3-29-2014

This past weekend saw the Shriner's circus make their swing through Oklahoma City and because of the efforts of a few dedicated folks in the area a group of us got together to ensure that the event didn't happen without some accurate information being presented to those attending.

Standing and holding up a sign while car after car goes past gives you a lot of time to think. I noticed that many people would stare intently at the signs and the protesters. After awhile the whole experience became a little surreal (we stood at the entrance before the start of 3 scheduled shows). Having that many people staring at you while moving by must be a little bit like what happens to the prisoners in zoos...no wonder they often appear to be bored and spaced out.

Many looked disturbed as they drove by and that's when it occured to me that one of the things we wanted to happen is described by that phrase "afflicting the comfortable". It just is not ok for something based on fear and pain and confinement and misery to happen and that happening be promoted and publicized as a happy, festive event without some countering voice. Challenging culturally supported distortions, lies and untruths is an obligation we all share. At least that's what I believe. Protesting on behalf of circus prisoners kicks a cultural fantasy in a tender place (reality). And...it is another way of trying to say something "well enough".

Some people honked, some gave a thumbs up, some stopped and took literature we were passing out, most ignored us but some shouted some really really peculiar things. One fellow shouted out that he was a hunter and liked to kill animals. Someone noticed that this same shouter had a confederate flag sticker on his bumper. Killing the innocent and support for human slavery do seem to go together. The most interesting yelling came from a disturbed looking older woman who shouted at us to "get a job, get a real job". It struck me that maybe she was saying that if people were enslaved intensely enough by their work then they wouldn't be objecting to anything...much less cruelty. Maybe that's true.

While driving up to the first protest last Saturday I found my self getting sadder and sadder and what I realized that this was a sad sad thing. What is done to the elephants and tigers and lions and all the other prisoners of that circus is sad, that such things can be done is sad and saddest of all is that the great majority of us see nothing sad at all about it. And rarely does anyone object.

But we did and in the midst of all that sadness something very uplifting and happy making occurred. I met some people who seem to feel very much like I do about hurting others...and that was exciting and nearly giddy making. Several of us talked about why we were there and why we were vegan and it felt phenomenal to know there were others (besides the very very few that I know or have met) who felt much like I did.



That was a very unexpected bonus. The only other AR protests I've participated in were organized by Mercy For Animals and they were fine and welcome but they were also very scripted and, I don't know, sort of stilted or something. They weren't homegrown like this one was nor was there much interaction between the folks that showed up to object to how we treated our fellow Earthlings. This one was all Okie, and the fine folks that pulled it together, who put together the signs, who coordinated the where, when and how were energetic young people from Norman and OKC and Edmond and Yukon and Midwest City and and. It was, in those respects, just fantastic...even though what caused it was not a good or happy thing (a circus "using" living beings without their consent).

So. The bad (a circus) resulted, in an odd way, in a good...a little convocation of rather like-minded human animals and that was an enjoyable and lovely aspect to what was/is an otherwise bleak and sad and dismal thing (harming those with less power). One of the young women there was quite vocal and would ask people to not take their children to see cruelty or ask them if they wanted literature. She was quite energetic and managed to never tump over into being obnoxious or objectionable. One loud remark that came out of her cracked me up, enough so that I smile as I write about it, she shouted at someone: "Do you want to see me hug a tree?" That was a gem.

I'm very very grateful to everyone who came out and participated, to everyone who helped in ways small and large. We didn't stop any cruelty, but we were there and we spoke out...and somewhere....somehow...maybe those prisoners in that circus knew they weren't totally surrounded by humans who could care less what they felt but there were some who objected to what was being done to them. And maybe that was a small, very small, plus for them. And even if it wasn't...at least some of the comfortable had a taste of discomfort.

Want to do your part to help? Go vegan...and...if you get the chance (or can make the chance) go protest. Maybe somehow...someway...those for whom you protest will know...and...for certain you will know that you didn't stay silent when faced with injustice. And that's a good thing.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Do this please...

...copy the letter below, paste it into your word processing software and modify it to reflect the situation in your area and then send it off to the editor of your local newspaper as a letter to be published.

Dear Editor:

Over the next few weeks, many local adults will be tempted to buy an Easter rabbit for a beloved child, godchild, grandchild, niece, or nephew.  And a few months from now, our local animal shelters will be, as they are every year, inundated by a flood of cast-off bunnies.  Heartland Rabbit Rescue asks that everyone who is considering buying a rabbit this year stop and think about three important facts:

First, although rabbits can make wonderful pets, they are naturally fragile and easily frightened.  An active child who expects a cuddly pet can terrify or even injure a rabbit.

Second, a well cared for rabbit should live as long as a dog or cat (ten years or more) and will require just as much love, attention, and specialized veterinary (including spaying/neutering) care as a dog or cat would. No living being is a prop to “teach” responsibility, they are a commitment and an obligation...one often way beyond the capabilities, capacities and resources of a child. 

Third, just as there are countless dogs and cats without homes, so are there numerous rabbits who are languishing in shelters and rescues...often doomed to be killed unless adopted. Never buy a living being, if you wish to share your home with another species, visit your local rescue organizations and adopt in order to save a life.

If you want to make this Easter happy for a child (and for the Easter bunny too) don’t give a live rabbit, give a stuffed or vegan chocolate bunny instead and make a donation to one of the many excellent local animal rescues on their behalf.

Some form of the above example letter can serve as one of your contributions to activism on behalf of our fellow Earthlings. Make it an annual practice...your letter may save a life. Consciousness raising is a necessary activity in the quest for a vegan planet. Letters like this can assist in reducing ignorance and making invisible victims visible. (If you want, include a specific reference to baby chickens and ducks who are also at risk for being used as a "gift" during this time of year.)

Often this is a time of trepidation and worry for the rescues/sanctuaries who offer some place of safety for these victims because many operate on shoestring budgets supported only by donations and many of these facilities are at or over capacity and don't have room for more residents. Enrich your holiday by supporting these islands of safety and refuge any way you can and if they don't promote veganism...begin to gently educate them.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Images....

This photo of the face of a donkey knocked me out.

I saw this on facebook and was entranced...I did not research the origin of the image hence I'm not certain whether is has been manipulated or not...nevertheless it is a striking picture. (my thanks to the creator)

Finally, this graphic with a quote from Albert Schweitzer.


If you want to be an amazing human animal...live vegan...if you are already doing so...go look in the mirror and be amazed. (and please accept my thanks both from me and from those without human words).




Friday, March 14, 2014

The irony...

isn't lost on me. My last post was about how we human animals aren't particularly at ease with violence and yet....yesterday while chatting in the lobby of the local library...chatting with a relative stranger...I had to struggle hard to hold back my impulse to grab the man by the throat and shake/choke him. I was stunned by the rapidity of the desire as well as the incredible strength of it. I actually had to turn my body a little away from him to help me control myself. I felt a burning flush spread from the middle of my stomach to the top of my head. It was all so unexpected and so strong that it seemed almost surreal.

I was leaving the library after checking out an armload of books when I ran into a woman that I knew casually through my previous work. I hadn't seen her in 4 or 5 years and actually didn't recognize her until she said something. She was with her husband whom I had never met and we introduced ourselves and shook hands...all the usual doo dah that the culture/species calls for upon strangers meeting. The woman and I were chit chatting about what we had been doing over the past few years and I shared that I was spending time almost daily helping out at Heartland Rabbit Rescue. They were both surprised that there was such a thing as a rabbit rescue at all, much less in central Oklahoma...then the fun started.

The man said something to the effect of rabbits...they are what you eat aren't they? It was right there that I surprised the hell out of myself by almost attacking the guy who was trying (I suppose) to be funny. I was caught totally off guard by my powerful and rapid reaction. While holding back I was also trying to think of what to say...I guess my face/body showed something, I don't know. I responded by saying something to the effect that as far as I knew the only group on the planet that had said it was ok for humans to kill other beings were the humans...that I didn't know of any other animal that had said...hey humans...come and kill me....and I said that killing someone else was murder and I didn't think murder was ok at all. I then asked him if he knew what veganism was...he said he had heard the term but really didn't know...so I told him about what it meant and that we didn't have to eat animals to survive...that it was all some made-up crap we told ourselves to justify hurting others without looking like total a**holes.

He seemed to realize that I was having some strong feelings and maybe that I was angry...he became conciliatory sounding and appearing. He said he had hunted when he was younger but gave it up because he didn't like it and hadn't hunted in 30 years.

After a bit more chit-chat we did the good-bye thingee and went our separate ways. I've been churning on some level ever since. I truly was and am stunned at my response. I don't anger very easily...and I don't think about or feel like being violent toward others hardly ever. And yet...there it was. I'm still processing this...as I was sitting in the car I realized that his joking was the emotional equivalent...for me...of his saying that my wife or my sister or my father or mother  are what you hunt and eat. The rabbits of Heartland (and all rabbits) have become members of my family and I love them and if they're threatened (even jokingly) I respond with angry feelings/impulses.

It's been awhile since I've been in a situation where someone tried to be funny about killing...especially about killing rabbits (or any Earthling). I've changed...being vegan changes how I see the other animals...it's changed how I see people who hurt other animals...it's changed how I respond to jokes about hurting others. I'm changed and my reactions and responses have changed. And I wasn't a particularly good ambassador for veganism nor was I very articulate. It is probably always disconcerting when we encounter an aspect of ourself that we were unaware of. And I was genuinely discombobulated...and still am for that matter.

We may be uncomfortable with physical violence...I am...but that doesn't mean we don't have impulses to be violent. I did...I wanted to grab that guy so strongly I could almost taste it. But...I didn't. I stopped myself...I was even able to speak and be coherent (I think). We may want to be violent...but we don't have to be. That's the good thing.

My apologies to Darby and all bunnies and all the victims of human animals...I wasn't a very effective or convincing advocate on their behalf yesterday. I stumbled through the encounter and got away from it without behaving violently...I guess that's the best thing about it. Attacking strangers in the lobby of a library isn't a good way to advocate for living without harming others.

Please live vegan if you aren't already...but be forewarned...doing so will change you in more ways than you might know...it certainly has done that in my case.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Teach your children deux....

In part one of this theme, I did not provide much in the way of positives in terms of teaching human children (or adults for that matter). Bea Elliott, one of my greatly appreciated and esteemed readers, noted in her comment on the post that it was "an awful lot of awful evidence that things will always remain on the dismal slant." (some of Bea's fine work can be found here and here)

I really don't think things will always be slanted toward the dismal and there is much evidence that we human animals aren't naturally oriented in that direction. However, the fact is that we seem to be awfully susceptible to being snookered (by ourselves) into viewing our world in such ways that result in our behaving dismally...that's what I was trying to express.

We don't thrive in those sorts of circumstances however...violent and destructive and harmful behaviors aren't growth promoting ways of being nor are we particularly at ease with them. We may "adjust" to them (and often do) but it seems to cost most of us quite a bit. For instance, we have the ability to become 'desensitized' to violence...and that's troubling...yet what is hopeful here is the fact that we react to violence in the first place. In other words, we react negatively to exposure to violence and in order to be able to tolerate it we have to make some kind of adjustment and/or accommodation. Which strongly suggests that our baseline level of being is violence aversive. We naturally don't like it. We can "adjust" to it but the adjusting costs us in terms of emotional resources and effort.

Another very positive thing about we human animals is the fact that we make great efforts to hide places of violence and destruction from ourselves. Either by physically locating places of horror and harm out of sight...or by deluding and lying to our own perceptions and thereby pretending that they don't exist...or that they don't matter. It is not by accident that the great harmers, both of contemporary  and historical times, expend much effort on hiding what they do.

The massive Holocaust in Europe was not undertaken in Germany itself, rather the murder factories were established in out of the way places in Poland. The torture carried out by the United States in its "war" on terrorism is carried out in "dark" sites and hidden bases and remote locations. The agents of repression and intimidation are called "secret" police...in some unconscious recognition of our baseline revulsion at such activities. The proliferation of "ag-gag" efforts on the part of lawmakers here in the US is another instance of our knowing, without openly acknowledging, that the activities we are trying to hide are repulsive to most.

No, it isn't all dismal, nor do I believe it will always be...but our predilection to "other" those who differ from the in-power groups and then to denigrate and persecute the "others" is a strong strain in our make-up and one that we must struggle against constantly and diligently. Being cautious about the unfamiliar, being afraid of the novel...these are strategies that likely assisted in survival (in evolutionary terms)...yet these useful strategies are so terribly easily tumped over into demonization and hatred of and harm to the different.

No, it isn't all dismal, only the disturbed and the deficient aren't disturbed by violence...yet we seem to listen way too often to those who seek violence. We're a mixed bag of impulses and abilities and the voices and influence of the harmers seem to overwhelm those who seek not to harm...but it doesn't have to be that way.

The ultimate expression of commitment to equality and respect for all is veganism and the secret weapon that the vegan way of living has going for it is that we are animals who are disturbed by violence. It might be a small still voice, that disturbance...but it is natural and normal and it is the most reliable ally of a vegan world. Or so it seems to me.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Innocence

Dictionary.com defines innocence:
1. the quality or state of being innocent; freedom from sin or moral wrong.
2. freedom from legal or specific wrong; guiltlessness: The prisoner proved his innocence.
3. simplicity; absence of guile or cunning; naiveté.
4. lack of knowledge or understanding.
5. harmlessness; innocuousness.
This is Darby.
Darby (5-6 months old...estimated)
She embodies a living example of innocence. She even wears a white coat. Someone dumped innocence at a drop box at an animal shelter. She was anywhere from 2 to 4 months old. She came to Heartland very very frightened. She was skittish and jumpy and scared. She ran away from humans when she could but if she was held and head-rubbed you could see that she was a baby who wanted to be comforted.

I'm writing about her because these past few days have seen a transformation. Darby has turned a corner and now instead of being dominated by fear and anxiety around human animals....she bubbles. She eagerly looks them in the face, she seeks touches, head-rubs...she runs toward humans instead of away from them. She especially likes having her shoulders gently massaged, if you touch her there she usually drops to the floor waiting for a rubbing.



She isn't crippled by terror now. There are few things (maybe no things) in this old world better than seeing a baby recover her smiles, her joy of living, her happy, her feeling that life is good.

She didn't have to recover her innocence, she never lost that. She didn't cause human animals to behave like they do...she didn't cause the predator animals, who stalk and kill her relatives for food, to act the way they do. She didn't cause her hair to be white, humans did, so they could better hurt her in laboratories and other places of terror and pain. But her white hair is accurate as an indicator of Darby's state of being...she is innocent.

Thanks for being who you are Darby, thanks for giving humans some trust again. Heartland Rabbit Rescue (and me) will do everything possible to make sure you never ever have any reason to distrust or fear human animals.

That's my hand in the second photo. Look at your hands. Do your hands represent the the destruction and disregard of innocence? Look at the hands of human beings the next time you're out around other people. If those human animals aren't living as vegans...you're looking at hands that destroy innocence, that terrorize and kill babies, that don't care about innocence. If hands told the truth of their doing with their color...the hands of a human being not living vegan would be stained red with blood. That's ugly.

If you don't want to have ugly hands, if you don't want to be someone who destroys innocence, who terrorizes babies, who hurts those who haven't harmed you, who adds to the misery of living on planet Earth...then you have to live vegan.

There's no in-between. Either you hurt babies like Darby or you don't. You can smile and laugh and joke and sing and run and play and be happy all you want...but if you aren't living vegan you're terrorizing babies and killing innocence.

I hurt and terrified babies for years and years, and I'm sorrowful that I did. I'm trying to make up for it. Darby has gifted me with her trust...with her innocence. I will honor her trust with my gratitude and my awe...and by living vegan.

I hope you will step away from being a human being who frightens and hurts the Darbys of this most beautiful planet. She deserves to enjoy her life...and you can do much better. Someone observed that living vegan is hard if you're focusing on yourself but living vegan is easy if you're thinking about who you aren't hurting anymore. Think about Darby...because she makes it easy to live vegan.




Friday, February 21, 2014

Several weeks ago...

I was really excited when my local library let me know they had received their copy of a new book titled Moral Tribes by Joshua D. Greene. There have been a number of books and studies in recent years coming out of popular academia about "morality". What triggered all this was the success that Daniel Kahneman had in explaining a cognitive basis for lousy human thinking. By success I mean like Nobel Prize. That's like the academic version of an academy award...except much better.

I haven't been much impressed with the whacks that have been taken at morality...work by folks like Jonathan Haidt and others. Their writings have simply not resonated with me. Maybe it's my age. I don't really know for sure...I tend to approach any popularization of science by referencing Carl Sagan and his various efforts, including the (well-liked by me) book The Demon Haunted World. The new crop of popularizers seem...I don't know...a little too slick for me...more weighted with style as opposed to genuine substance. To me they're just a little step above such thin beer like that served up by Malcom Gladwell and such. A whiff of hucksterism coupled with slick-shallowness.

Anyway, Moral Tribes is written by a fellow who is described in the book jacket as the director of The Moral Cognition Lab at the prestigious Harvard University. What else could you ask for, at least as far as credentialing goes? And yet.

I've become a serious and persistent skeptic of "science" as currently practiced, especially when it references human behavior and my skepticism has grown out of my adventures in living vegan. Our willful and culturally driven blindness to our living relatives permeates all our activities...sadly...and that includes science.

For me, the first thing I do before jumping into a book on morality is go to the index and see if veganism or vegan or animal rights or anything in that vicinity is listed. If it isn't then I know I'm most probably holding a book written by a person with a major blind spot. Well, first off there's no index entry for animal, much less animal rights. There is an index entry for vegetarian on page 311, no entry for vegan. The index already lets me know that this book is not serious.

Page 311. The author is rambling along about late-term abortions. At one point the asserts that if you're pro-choice but against late-term abortions because of fetal consciousness then you have to be against eating certain animals. He writes:
But this is no easy way out. Consistency requires more than being a moral vegetarian.* It requires being a 'militant' vegetarian. Many vegetarians, including those with moral motivations, choose not to eat meat themselves yet remain "pro-choice" about eating meat. They don't regard their meat-eating friends as murderers, and they don't believe that eating meat should be illegal. (Some do but most don't.)
The asterisk references a brief note at the back of the book..."Many of us would have a hard time killing the animals we eat, but that's probably because we're not used to it. Our ancestors did this for millions of years."

And there you have it. That's about all there is about killing and/or eating and/or imprisoning and/or and/or torturing and/or driving extinct any and all living beings on this planet except the human ones. This...from the "Director of the Moral Cognition Laboratory at Harvard University." He exposes himself as both ill-informed and inaccurately informed...and unaware (apparently) of his deficits. And...we would all get used to killing our fellow animals if we just practiced it a little more. Trivialization of the killing of living beings...by the director of a lab for moral cognition? This is unspeakable.

Based on this book and the shallowness and ignorance exhibited, well, we have a long way to go. And we are severely prone to swallow what our culture hands us and to then believe we are grounded in "reality". Even if we are well educated, even if we are accomplished...even if we are "experts" on "morality". A Ph.D. is no guarantee of wisdom, no guarantee of knowledge, no guarantee of perceptiveness. Attending Harvard or Yale or Stanford or any other "esteemed" educational institute is a guarantee of nothing except that you attended classes there. Period. (it does suggest strongly that you came from a wealthy and/or seriously ambitious family...but not much else).

A few weeks ago I put up a post called Teach Your Children. In it I was presenting my impression that we're terribly prone to swallow what we're taught as children even if we're taught to be monstrous and that whatever bent we might have as a species toward behaving well is faint and apparently difficult (if not impossible) for most of us to hear. It may be that we are, in sum, behaving better toward each other (see Steven Pinker's book). Our behavior toward the other living beings on this planet doesn't seem to be better and when the "Director of the Moral Cognition Laboratory" apparently doesn't even know the term vegan, much less what it means, and thinks that most "ethical vegetarians" believe it is ok for others to kill and eat our fellow animals...well...just...groan.

For the record...I firmly believe it should be illegal to exploit and/or harm any animal. Period. And I do not, emphatically not, believe it is acceptable for people to eat animals and I do regard those who do so as participants in murder. And I'm well aware I am not alone in this stance. Sorry Dr. Greene, your comprehension of "morality" is sorely inadequate...along with your fund of information about veganism. You are apparently more interested in chasing a dollar or aggrandizing yourself than you are in presenting complete and accurate information.

Go vegan, you will be living smarter than the director of the Harvard Laboratory for Moral Cognition.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Until all are free...

none are free.


Go vegan...live a life of freedom for all.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Teach your children...

is the title of a song by Crosby Stills Nash & Young. One stanza includes the lines: "Teach your children what you believe in. Make a world that we can live in."

In a comment by D.E.M. to a recent post she wrote:
...My biggest concern of the moment is this: the access that meat-production has to young minds via the universities; the access it has to their vision, distorting students into seeing "housing" where cages exist. And there is nothing I can do about it.
One of the quests I've been on in the past few years has been to acquire some sort of comprehension or understanding of how horrors like the Nazi holocaust could happen. Primarily because I think whatever aspect of the human animal that allowed and drove the holocaust is probably the same thing that drives or underlies the human assault on every other animal and maybe even the human assault on planet Earth herself.

D.E.M.'s comment made me note that I've tentatively (always subject to revision) realized that yes...we must teach our children...we must teach them that all beings should be respected and left alone and not oppressed or harmed. But...and here's the new stuff (at least for me)...that's no guarantee that such outlooks and/or behaviors will persist or that they will even be incorporated by those children that we teach.

Mainly because...from what I can see...most all of us human "beans" pretty much will learn just about any way of being and motor right on as if it is the coolest way to be there is...no matter whether we're being taught to act like good little nazis or klansmen (or klanswomen) or whether we're being taught to act like good little decent and respectful individuals. There may be some faint yet enduring bent toward not being harmful...but in most of us that bent is oh so very very quiet and easily overwhelmed...if not easily extinguished entirely.

And...as if that wasn't enough...there seems to be a persistent and enduring (albeit small) percentage of us that are maybe completely bent toward harm and destruction and this group waxes and wanes in their ability to influence others to behave in horrid ways. But they never go away and they never ever stop pushing for harm. Sometimes they manifest themselves in such ways that entire populations tump over into an orgy of destruction and horror. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, you can take a look at history and find your own examples of this dismaying and disgusting tendency of ours. And there are plenty.

Then go look in history for non-violent and freedom promoting and peace embracing cultures. They exist, but jeez...it is sort of imbalanced to look at on the one hand all the pain and fear and destruction associated with Nazi Germany and on the other hand to try and balance that by referring to...oh.....say...Denmark (maybe) or Iceland (maybe). Even then you won't find any cultures that have given up harming our fellow Earthlings. Even when we haven't been whacking on ourselves we've been whacking on all the other beings near us.

How about this...it has taken the human species from the onset of their existence up until 1981 to finally make human slavery illegal in every organized grouping of humans that defined things as legal or illegal. That's a long time...a very long time...thousands and thousands of years. Hey...any group of animals that can't figure out that there is something stinky about enslavement of themselves...well...that's a group that doesn't rate too high (at least on any scale that seems reasonable to me) in the smarts or the "good guy" department. Much less in the "inherently good" department.

We may be "inherently good" (and, on balance, I think/hope we are) but we're certainly no more "inherently good" than any other group of beings on this planet. No way. We seem to get all tangled up in the notion that we're hot stuff...hotter stuff than any other group of Earthlings and one thing we have to do to maintain that sort of silliness is to absolutely avoid looking at ourselves and our behavior and our history. (Otherwise we might shrivel up and die of chagrin and embarrassment and horror.) By the way...most of the horrors of human history are predominately driven by males. Sad but true.

Yes...we better teach the children....but any fantasy that we're not susceptible to being taught most any old thing...well...I don't think that's the way most of us are. Take a look around at all the sexism...all the racism...all the environmental destruction...all the speciesism...all the bad, really bad juju that exists and even dominates our behavior and outlooks and...wow, just wow.

I haven't tried to balance this post with referencing the positives...and there are a few...Donald Watson for instance. And there are more, I know, but what is being pointed out here is that we better teach the kids well because somebody is going to teach them something and the little suckers don't seem to have very good built in bullsh*t detectors. They seem to be willing to believe horrid a**holes like Hitler just as quickly (hell, maybe even more so) than they would someone like Ghandi or Martin Luther King. Go watch the Brown eyes and blue eyes racism experiment if you think I'm talking out of my hat.

In the meantime...live vegan if you don't already. One thing I can promise is that no dictator or horrible person ever in the history of the human species has been vegan (because vegan by definition precludes harming or oppressing others)...it is the one way of living that removes you from the risk of being a systematic and purposive harmer of others.

(disclaimer: Please know that I include myself in the grouping of humans susceptible to swallowing crap whole and thinking it is chocolate. I cringe at all the stupid destructive things I've thought and acted upon...and really cringe at consideration of whatever stupidities and sad making things I continue to act out without realizing them. So...I'm definitely not taking the high ground here...but I'm better than I was...living vegan guarantees that.)




Thursday, January 30, 2014

He fought the power...

Pete Seeger died this past Monday at the age of 94. I'm still devastated by his going away and likely will be on some levels for the time I have remaining. He became a hero of mine while I was still in high school and he remained one throughout all this time. He never never failed to delight, he never failed to enlighten and he never failed to "fight the power".

I asked my Tuesday class whether they had heard of Pete Seeger...none of them had. And that made me ever sadder.

It may be that some of you are not familiar with him. If so...here is one of the numerous pieces about his death and here's another. He made beautiful and meaningful music and he stood up against power and he stood up for those being treated unjustly. Even if he didn't make it all the way through to becoming a vegan...I have no doubt he would have at some point or other.

I've sort of had my eye out for something written about him that was worthy of him and here's a piece written back in 1990 that does a very good job.
   What does this have to do with animals?  Nothing and everything.  Pete Seeger has fought the power for a long time.  Summoned before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1955, he pleaded not the Fifth but the First Amendment.  He declared that he had the right to discuss (and sing about) politics with whomever he pleased.  In 2003, as the nation prepared to invade Iraq, an 84 year-old man stood by himself on a cold, snowy street corner in Beacon, New York holding a hand-painted sign that simply said: “Peace.”   As Bruce Springsteen observed, Seeger’s life and work has been all about driving a “stealth dagger into the heart of our illusions about ourselves and our country.”
Mr. Springsteen's observance about driving a dagger into the heart of illusion is also a fitting statement about the job of every vegan. It is our task to puncture humankind's illusion of superiority and dominance and freedom to harm without consequence that characterizes how most behave toward our fellow Earthlings. I will forever believe Pete would have understood and sympathized. RIP Mr. Seeger...we are all lessened by your not being here. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Stranger in a strange land.

Recently one of the blogs, Animal Rights, I follow regularly posted a piece entitled Applesauce and Boiled Pigs (the author is adept both at writing and title creating). She often writes essays that are both funny and painful and this one included content that is smile making and also sad and also dismaying.

I responded with a comment that included the phrase "stranger in a strange land". Science fiction affectionados will recognize the phrase as one used by Robert Heinlein to title one of his most well known books. One that I read way back when I was fairly young and deeply immersed in the reading of science fiction. The book, by the way, centers around a character who, as an outsider, challenges many well-accepted social mores (and eventually gets murdered for his trouble).

What I was trying to wrestle with in my comment was the fact that veganism and the realizations of truths that drive someone to live life as a vegan carry a rather heavy price. Not the least of which is that taking this path is going to place one outside (and not just a little bit outside) of the mainstream way of living of most all of the human cultures on the planet. Culture and her footsoldiers (all those who practice particular ways of seeing things and doing things) do not suffer change gladly. This is a truth most everyone who has protested or resisted or even avoided participation in the murderous mayhem that is accepted as "reality" knows well.

It doesn't matter that veganism extends and places into practice behaviors and ways of feeling and thinking that are generally considered good or desirable...such as compassion, kindness, respect for others, etc. None of this matters to the cultural behemoth. What stirs resistance is change...it doesn't matter that the change is positive or that the change can only be considered good or beneficial...what matters to the culture is that it is different. Period.

If you step out of "being normal" be prepared to discover that human animals are generally not all these wonderous things we've been told that they are. Being frightened of applesauce doesn't say much for intelligence or rationality or wisdom or insight. Be prepared to discover a number to things that are painful about human behavior. Daniel Quinn addressed this phenomenon in his book Ishmael (more in this previous post). He does a great job of exploring this difficult topic.

Be prepared to learn too, if you haven't already, that: "Animals are no where near as different from humans as we’ve been taught..." (source). There's sort of a balance here...as we move toward giving up delusions of "specialness" and "uniqueness" we discover that we live in a world where special and unique doesn't just apply to one type of animal but to all animals. We find we have many more and varied beings that are enjoyable and admirable and that enrich us for knowing them.

Becoming a stranger in a strange land can be painful and disorienting and difficult to endure. But it also can make the world much bigger and more phenomenal than we ever thought it could be. I've met wise rabbits and sassy donkeys and silly ducks...and if I had continued to live in ways that included being threatened by applesauce...I would have been blind to the uniqueness of each of those beings.

Being a stranger in a strange land doesn't mean there aren't other humans there with you either. If you've opted for the strange stranger path (veganism) be sure to be kind to the other human strangers you encounter. You know it's a tough road because you're on it...it's tough for them too...so encouragement, acceptance and appreciation are always beneficial. Being vegan means living a life of kindness to strangers...those strangers being all the other animals that you will never meet that were spared harm because of your veganism...remember to be kind to the human strangers too.

One final thought. If at all possible, get involved with a rescue and/or sanctuary, not only to help them...but to help yourself. By that I mean I think it is nourishing (that's the best word I can think of) to spend lots of time around other types of beings. Especially beings that are safe from harm by humans.

Rescues and sanctuaries (vegan ones) are the closest thing there is to a vegan world that we have right now.

Being involved with a place like that lets you get a taste of what we're all struggling to achieve. It can be a transformative experience. And, if there isn't a vegan rescue or sanctuary near you...maybe you can get involved with one that isn't and begin the process of changing it. I think most of us spend way too much time around other humans and not nearly enough time around unhuman Earthlings...especially other Earthlings who are safe and who are given the respect and acceptance that they deserve. They blossom...and hanging out with blossoming beings is pretty nifty.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Please go read this..

post over at The Animal Blawg. It is one of the best discussions I've ever run across about the problematic issue of "feeding" and interacting with the free animals. The author is a gifted writer who attracted my attention and admiration several years ago and I keep an eye out for anything she writes.

Developing into a respecter of our fellow animals (as well as being, on my part at least, a "lover" of them too) can be a struggle and can be difficult.

By the way, the same sort of perspective applies to interacting with your fellow human animals. Jumping in and doing everything for some other human that you care for is, in general, not a particularly good way to express caring. It's also sort of invasive and can be demeaning...and can be damaging. Why would we think what doesn't work for us...does work for the other animals? Ah well, when has reasonableness and perceptiveness ever defined human activity?

I'm not going to wade into this issue much further. Ms. Stachowski has written well and thoroughly about it...go read it.

And...obviously...if you want to quit harming the innocent...go vegan.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Giving toxic "food" to animals.


Many are aware that about six years ago there was a scandal because a pet food supplier from china had used melamine as an ingredient (because the presence of melamine causes tests for protein levels to be higher...and I presume melamine is cheaper than protein) and this had caused death for a number of pets. Melamine has also been used to boost apparent protein level in foods designed to be used by human animals. "Melamine is a by-product of the coal industry. It is a chemical compound with numerous industrial uses, including the production of plastics, dishware, kitchenware, commercial filters, laminates, adhesives, molding compounds, coatings and flame retardants." (source)

One of the lessons to be learned here is that the desire to make a profit can result in harm to living beings.

Recently Heartland Rabbit Rescue took in two bunnies from different situations where the rabbits were returned along with some of the food they had been being fed. One of the foods came from Walmart, a brand called Small World, that is apparently manufactured for Walmart by a company called Manna Pro. The other bunny was being fed a house brand rabbit food (called Ranch Pro) that is carried by a farm supply retailer called Atwoods. The negative effects of these pitiful "diets" on these two remains to be fully seen.

The link to the Small World brand food goes to a page that lists the ingredients, they include (in order of how much there is of each)....dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Wheat Middlings, Roughage Products, Soybean Meal, Feeding Oatmeal (whatever that is) and the list then degenerates into a litany of chemicals and vitaminany sounding names, e.g. "sodium selenite".

The Ranch Pro brand sold by Atwoods list ingredients (in order of how much there is in the "food") as being "plant protein products, processed grain products, roughage products, dehydrated alfalfa meal...and then the list degenerates again into a listing of chemicals and vaguely nutritional sounding stuff like "copper sulfate". The Ranch Pro brand does say right under the logo that "This feed is designed to be fed to grower and breeder rabbits." In other words...it is designed to make the bunny get as big as possible as fast as possible because getting big fast increases profits that can be made from the bunny. The Small World brand touts itself as "Complete feed for rabbits".

Both of these "foods" are absolutely and totally unacceptable items to give to a rabbit...unless you care nothing about the well being of the rabbit.They will have the same effect as a poison...slow acting poison maybe...but poison nevertheless.

In contrast to "complete feed for rabbits" you might want to look at these nutrition guidelines from the Minnesota House Rabbit Society. They note: "Overfeeding of pellets can lead to obesity, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, chronic soft stools and bladder stones." And even on the Minnesota page, they aren't clear about the fact that alfalfa should be given to adult rabbits only in rare instances...alfalfa is not hay (grass) it is a legume...from the same plant family as peas. Here's another (and maybe better) source to consult concerning food for rabbits.They note: "Perhaps the single most important item in the rabbit diet is grass HAY, and it should be fed in unlimited quantities to both adults and baby rabbits." Notice they specify grass HAY, not alfalfa.

What's all this about food for rabbits? Well, the truth is, most human's are clueless about what rabbits should be eating (I promise I was) but most of us humans simply take Walmat's word that they are selling us a "complete feed" for rabbits and go merrily on our way of slowly poisoning the rabbit(s) in our care.

Furthermore, most of the food "manufactured" (manufactured food is a strange combination of words when you think about it) for rabbits is created to make "growers and breeders" of rabbits happy. That means the rabbit grows large quickly so they can be killed or they can start "breeding" quickly. None of this food is designed to assist the bunny to be healthy or long-lived...it is designed to satisfy the needs and wants of those who exploit rabbits for profit. The fact is, most commercial rabbit "food" is slow acting poison. Period.

I came across a couple of videos recently that do a good job of injecting humor into a topic that is really not humorous. Food for your rabbit (or for any living being) is literally a matter of life or death...and that's really not funny. Never ever ever pay heed to information coming from an exploiter ("grower", "rancher", "breeder", "exhibitor or shower") of living beings about what is beneficial for the beings they exploit. In the end, they don't know or care, they care about profit and what they can get out of those they exploit. 

I'm including one of the videos here...the other on uses a clip from a movie about Hitler that I actually thought was good too...but found myself conflicted about it because it shows Hitler advocating for rabbits. And the juxtaposing of an evil being advocating for beings I care about left me dismayed and ambivalent.

You can find that other video here if you want to see it. Look...we are an ignorant species and our ignorance...even when we are well intentioned...means if we are responsible for someone else then they will likely suffer because of our ignorance. If you are going to take on the awesome power of caring for someone else....you have an obligation to minimize your ignorance. Harming someone you care about is very painful...for you...and even more so for the one you harm.

Even if you don't live with another species...you have to live vegan to minimize your harming...so quit harming...if you haven't already done so.