Friday, January 16, 2015

Aaaarrrgh...this stuff

makes my head hurt. Really it does. Having to re-evaluate "reality" and perceptions of what constitutes reality is for the young. Really it is...old people shouldn't have to do such disturbing and disorienting things. But...what can you do? When ya gotta, ya gotta.

Someone posted this graphic on one of the (way too many) groups that interest me on facebook.


That's pretty innocuous looking...and...there's truth in it. Usually anyone trotting out that response or reaction probably thinks they've ended the discussion right there because they've invoked one of the more holy shibboleths of contemporary U.S. American society that is used to squelch any and all objections and/or resistances to something said or done by an individual. It's a "personal choice" means like wow...you can't mess with that, can you? You have to "respect" someone's "personal choice", right? Fiddle with that and "gasp"...you might be interfering with someone's "freedom" (another U.S. American holy shibboleth that sounds as if it means something everyone knows and understands but actually, it turns out, differs completely from one person to the next).

Mr. Grillo elaborates on the problems with this "personal choice" meme, in this essay, for those who want to delve further into it. Most vegans have had this defense of "personal choice" thrown at them at one time or another and, if so, then Mr. Grillo's writing might be of interest.

This graphic resonated strongly with some notions that were written about in this essay by Robin J. DiAngelo titled "Why Can't We All Just Be Individuals?: Countering the Discourse of Individualism in Anti-Racist Education". For me to read (and half-way understand) her work required a lot of extra effort because she touches on concepts that are unfamiliar and/or unknown to me. Things like "theory of discourse" and "critical analysis" and "dominant discourse"...well, you get the picture. None of this vocabulary and/or concepts were familiar or comprehensible without doing a lot of digging. Whether they are accurately understood is still to be determined...but...I think I have the gist of them (hopefully) and it's all really rather mind-boggling.

Dr. DiAngelo, in her essay, makes the case that trotting out the "why can't we all just be individuals?" notion is a common counter to, or resistance to, or objection to, or an 'answer' to any presentation of the observation that we live in a white-supremacist laced society here in U.S. America. Being an "individual" has achieved the status of some magic invocation in its usage but the scary thing is, when you think about it, it means next to nothing in many contexts.

For instance...can you imagine a human being (an individual one) in a semi-comprehensible way without including all kinds of qualifications and/or specifications that belong to or are associated with that being? Is there such a thing as an individual human without a gender? Without an age? Without a language? Without a historical period in which they lived? Without a mother or father or family or society? Without life experiences? Without social narratives that they've been exposed to? Beyond the word individual meaning a singular instance of something or other (by that I mean one as opposed to two or more or unique) it really doesn't have much meaning at all without considering a myriad of other factors (gender, age, etc). What makes that word have intelligible meaning, beyond that of a single instance of something, is partially or sometimes completely invisible (unspoken, not specified or explicated).

Yet...we all (and I, oh so very much, include me) often trot out that word as if it meant something besides the notion of one...and we trot it out and use it as if it actually meant something when most of the meaning it has is obscured or hidden or invisible....and that hidden or invisible part is not made explicit. The specifics are not presented or considered and we just go blithely on yammering and talking as if we're making sense. When in fact what we're doing is obscuring...we're hiding things...we're trying to express something without saying it or even letting on that there's a whole world of meaning behind what we're saying...we're not going to even hint that that large and powerful meaning is present. In fact, we're often not even aware that this is what we're doing...because it is invisible to us too. Our culture/society/group told us to hide this (for various reasons) and we got the unspoken message (no one told us this explicitly) and we motor on as if we were being perfectly clear and open about what we're expressing or saying.

Look at the graphic above...the meme invoked..."personal choice" has all kinds of invisible factors associated with it...for instance in this particular invocation it is obscures and hides the fact that this particular "personal choice" is an act of violence and there is a victim. There is absolutely no difference between saying that "killing and then eating non-human animal "products" is a personal choice" versus saying "killing and then eating human animal "products" is a personal choice" outside of the species of the victim. Both refer to acts of violence and of eating dead body parts or excretions...the only difference being the identity of the victim.

You would have to be talking to a pretty strange person if they were to make the case to you that "personal choice" carried much weight in terms of behavior justification if they were talking about human animal victims...hence...it is the identity of the victim here that has all the meaning associated with it...not the "personal choice" meme. However, the "personal choice" notion is so potent that here it serves to obscure the fact that the identity of the victim is the significant factor...not the "personal choice" idea. Our culture essentially hypnotizes us to go into a fugue or daze when when we hear "personal choice" and we're supposed to say "oh, personal choice, then that's ok" when that one is trotted out. And...much more often than not...that's what's going on with the person that invokes the magical phrase "it's a personal choice". (Carol J. Adams has written about the invisibling of animals in her work too.)

And, I will have to admit, that when that "personal choice" thingee was first thrown at me by someone it brought me up short. I am, like each of you, partially a product of my culture and "personal choice" is a biggee in this culture and I am just as much a good little automaton as anyone else. I was stymied by the notion of "personal choice" at first because I had been taught to be blind and stupid when I encountered it. Then my thinker started up (it was off somewhere farting around like my culture had told it to) and I realized that the "personal choice" crap was nonsense. Hell, every action we take is, in some form or fashion, a "personal choice"...that's like saying when you do something it is a behavior. It's just words...not meaning...it's like saying abracadabra...it doesn't tell you anything. You have to look at the specifics, at the consequences, at the actions...all of that must be done for any meaningful sense to be achieved.

When we hear "personal choice" we're supposed to stop thinking and just accept it. Just as when we hear "why can't we all just be individuals". Both phrases are part of the discourse of dominance that creates and maintains our norms...both phrases have a myriad of unstated assumptions associated with them...invisible assumptions that serve to hide or obscure the non-dominant "other" and to maintain and sustain the dominant group's norms.

In the instance presented by Mr. Grillo, the dominant group being promoted is human animals...in the instance in Dr DiAngelo's paper the dominant group being promoted is white skinned human animals. The dominance is invisible, unspoken, not made explicit...mainly because if it is brought out into the open...well...questions might be asked...thinking might be done...changes might be made. And, those changes might mean some power or privilege loss for the dominant group...so...let's keep this stuff hidden so the peons and the peasants don't get restless or uppity.

Part of my purpose in writing it was to help me sharpen my thinking about all of it because it is quite new to me...especially the terminology but also the notion that "why can't we all just be individuals" is often a power play by the dominant white group. I had sort of waded through the "personal choice" meme on my own and figured out that it was some flim flam but I hadn't encountered the cultural jujitsu of the individuals thingee.

It is extremely useful to look at the work of the many folks who have done lots and lots and lots of thinking and investigating various oppressions. There is a tremendous amount of information out there and it is important to look and read and learn...it's also often discombobulating and staggering. But...as I said...when ya gotta, ya gotta.

It's not so bad though, if you're vegan, you're already somewhat familiar with being skeptical of your dominant culture. Well...I assure you that if you jump into digging into the work done on racism, sexism, abelism and so on...you'll become even more skeptical. Jeez...we're pretty messed up...not that I didn't know that already...it's just that we're much more pitiful than even I thought (and I thought we were pretty pitiful).

Monday, January 12, 2015

The "Civil" War.

The United States engaged in an internal war between citizens beginning in 1860 and ending in 1865. I was born only about 80 years after the end of that war...so this is not like ancient history...this war wasn't fought between Sparta and Athens several thousand years ago. The last (known) participant in that 'civil' war died several years after I was born...if I had known him I could have had a conversation with him.

This incredibly bloody conflict was over whether human animals could be considered the property of other human animals. Apologists for human slavery have tried to make the issue of "union" and "states rights" be placed at the center of the cause of the conflict but if you look at the reason behind those states wanting to leave the union you discover it was because they were afraid they were going to lose the "right" to legally own other humans. And the "states rights" referenced consisted of the "right" to own human beings as slaves.

"Incredibly bloody" refers to the fact that more than 2% of the population was killed in that war. In 1860 there were around 30 million people in the U.S., the civil war resulted in about 620,000 deaths, this compares with WWII where the U.S. had a population of about 142 million people and about 400,000 were killed...which works out to about .0028% of the population.

Why think about the civil war in context of WWII? Well, upon reflection, one of the major notions driving the Hitlerite dictatorship was that human animals could be enslaved and/or exterminated and had no "rights" just because they belonged to a particular group (neither was that kind of thinking unknown to the Tojo government of Japan). A big factor motivating the German/Japan governments was the notion that some human animals were better (or more worthy or whatever) than other human animals...depending on what group they belong to. That kind of thinking seems awfully similar to the thinking of the Confederate state governments.

WWII definitely isn't ancient history...and by the way...the U.S. was still practicing legal segregation while it was fighting the Axis powers. In other words, we were fighting against those advocating slavery while saying that some of our citizens were not worthy of some "rights" simply because they belonged to this or that group...but we didn't enslave them (hooray for us, I suppose).

It's all about the equality thing. We (those of us who are human animals) seem to have really serious difficulties with the idea that we (all human animals) are equal (in terms of our right to life, liberty and so on) to one another. Some of us are audacious enough to envision that equality notion (the right to life and liberty thingee) as applying to all living beings. We are called vegans.

And, for all of us who are vegan, it might behoove us to realize that we're on the side of a cause (equality of the right to live life freely for all living beings) that has prompted a lot of resistance when it was applied to just one group of animals (human ones), much less all animals.

It makes me wonder what might be in store for the future. It's obvious that human animals are willing to kill or be killed to enslave other human animals...that makes me wonder what they might be willing to do to continue to enslave non-human animals. It's sort of spooky.

So, for you who are vegan, the next time someone gets irate and/or upset at your advancing the notion of veganism...realize that you're encountering in some form or another the same kind of passionate resistance that prompted some awfully big and widespread and deadly human conflicts. A lot of human animals have killed a lot of other human animals over exactly these kinds of thinkings...and they did this killing very much in recent times. This all didn't happen long ago and far away.

So, if you thought veganism was just about being "nice" to our sister/brother Earthlings....you might want to think again. It's rather more serious and possibly deadly (and hell if I know why) than that.





Friday, January 2, 2015

It is 2015...

and I thought I start your new year with a few images.

A tattoo to consider:

Tattoo

I found this image to be seriously thought (and smile) provoking.

Hmmm...

As you make your way through your life, living vegan...do remember this image when you're feeling really really alone and realize that others have felt the same way.
Hooray for him.

And finally, anytime this year you find yourself feeling down and sad and want to maybe get a lift...bring this image up in your mind and you might find yourself smiling.
Imagine.

Enjoy your new year...and if you're living vegan, thank you. Remember that you're one of the good folks...even if it sometimes makes you feel really really alone (see previous image).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The way I see it...

If you oppose racism, if you oppose sexism, if you oppose the strong victimizing the weak...and you aren't vegan...you have a gaping hole in your conceptual repertoire and you need to do some reading and thinking and observing of the world around you. Figure it out and you'll end up vegan.

If you don't (end up vegan) then there's a serious hitch in your figuring out process.

You're following a line of reasoning that leads to the logically accurate and correct conclusion that speciesism is comprised of exactly the same sort of destructive distortions/delusions and behaviors as are sexism and racism (and all the other 'isms' of harm)...only the victims are changed...but many good and true opponents of those systems of oppression and harm recoil and fall into a mental/emotional black hole when they arrive at speciesism. Vapor-lock kicks in when they encounter the challenge to the notion of human supremacy.

Look at this bit of writing.

It is possible to not be racist (in the individual sense of not perpetrating overtly racist acts) and yet at the same time fail to be antiracist (in the political sense of resisting a racist system). Being not-racist is not enough. To be a fully moral person, one must find some way to be antiracist as well. Because white people benefit from living in a white-supremacist society, there is an added obligation for us to struggle against the injustice of that system.

The same argument holds in other realms as well. Men can be successful at not being sexist (in the sense of treating women as equals and refraining from sexist behaviors) but fail at being antisexist if we do nothing to acknowledge the misogynistic system in which we live and try to intervene where possible to change that system. p.80

The Heart of Whiteness, Robert Jensen
We can easily modify that first paragraph (changes are underlined) in terms of actors and associated oppressive behavior. You can change the second paragraph yourself if you want...but I think you get the point well enough with just this example.

It is possible to not be speciesist (in the individual sense of not perpetrating overtly speciesist acts) and yet at the same time fail to be antispeciesist (in the political sense of resisting a speciesist system). Being not-speciesist is not enough. To be a fully moral person, one must find some way to be antispeciesist as well. Because human animals benefit from living in a human-supremacist society, there is an added obligation for us to struggle against the injustice of that system.


Oppressions are all the same dance of harm and hurt and destruction...only the dancers change from one type of oppression to another. And it's an ugly dance...one where even the ostensible "winners" are losers. The gratuitious harming of others inflicts misery on the victim and degrades the perpetrator...it's not a "win-win" nor is it a "win-lose"...it's a "lose-lose more" situation. Veganism offers the opportunity to approach a "win-win" situation...and only veganism offers this chance.

You are an oppressor, if you support speciesism, racism or sexism or any other version of victimization of the weak by the strong via violence or any other means. As an oppressor you are...whether you like it or not...the cause and driving force behind almost all of the self-inflicted problems human society has or creates (which is, arguably, the majority of the problems we have). Whatever positives you think about yourself as an oppressor...the unspeakable horror and misery you bear responsibility for far outweighs any tiny amount of "good" you think you might be doing or have done.

One definition for social justice reads: "Social justice is the ability people have to realize their potential in the society where they live."

Veganizing this results in a definition that reads: "Social justice is the ability sentient beings have to realize their potential in the society where they live." That seems fairly simple to grasp...all we need to do is leave our sister and brother Earthlings alone and let them work things out within their own societies. Leaving them alone means leaving their environment alone too.

Veganism is the logical end point of any striving toward social justice, even if the original goal was the unveganized definition...many of the prominent figures in the great surge of seekers toward social justice that began gathering momentum in the 1950s and on into the 1960s and early 1970s realized this and ended up vegan. (Cesar Chavez , Angela Davis, Coretta Scott King, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz) This grouping (and there are others) of individuals were instrumental in the movements that advocated for Chicanos, African-Americans, Women's liberation and Native Americans.

Unless and until behaviors and attitudes that condone one (stronger) group oppressing and/or victimizing another (weaker) group are relegated to history...until then we human animals will remain not only our own worst enemy...but also the worst enemy of all living beings and of Mother Earth herself.

This truth seems self-evident...yet we obviously have a terrible time grasping this simple reality. Each human culture (some much more than others) deviates from this small simple truth. Each human culture spins ideas, stories, legends and myths that hide and distort this fact. Each human society turns away from this easily understood foundation for living and interacting with others. Each variant of equality denial (racism, sexism, nationalism, etc) rests on the often unspoken delusion underlying all of them...anthropocentrism or human supremacy.

Each human society resists (some much more frequently and persistently than others), ridicules, reviles and represses those who advocate for fairness and justice.

If your life is lacking in ridicule and resistance and instances of outright anger and hostility...then begin advocating for or promoting veganism. Greater excitement will be entering your experiential realm very soon. Pardon the sarcasm, but one of the more astonishing things I've encountered is the incredible resistance that pops up in seemingly "nice" people when they encounter the simple notion of justice associated with veganism. Seemingly 'rational' and kind humans often exhibit amazingly convoluted irrationalities when they encounter veganism. My own personal guesstimate is you're lucky if 1 out of 10 (and that's being generous) are able to fight through their cultural conditioning to a point where they can apprehend the justice inherent in a vegan way of living. Sadly, among even those few who comprehend the justice of veganism, even fewer still, then rouse themselves enough to pursue a vegan way of living...even when they acknowledge the awfulness of not doing so.

Living vegan is a requirement for a just and honorable way of being and many become upset or outraged at being asked to look at their desire to harm others or their complicity in the harming of others and their knowledge that this is an unjust way of being. We are profoundly prone to defend our "innocence" even when we are obviously and clearly un-innocent. Few of us are comfortable with harming others.

The level of resistance and avoidance and upset (and sometimes belligerence)  strongly suggests a hidden core of agreement overlaid with serious denial. We tend to become the most upset and irate (when we're engaging in denial) regarding things about which we have greater or lesser degrees of ambivalence or uncertainty.

Challenges to stances that we take or perspectives that we've assumed as a result of judicious and rational reasoning based on accurate knowledge of ourselves and the world around us do not...in general...result in upset and outrage when they are challenged. But...when we've assumed or simply taken viewpoints and/or sets of behaviors handed to us by our culture...and never really thought about them and their foundations/implications. Well...challenges to those can cause much turmoil and resistance...especially when they are faulty.

Someone would have to be a serious and deadly sociopath to not have some element of ambivalence about harming others...and most human animals...thank goodness aren't sociopaths. However, neither are most humans able to easily overcome cultural conditioning and strongly held social mores...and...as far as I know...all current human societies beat the drum, to lesser or greater degrees, of human supremacy...so part of the task of living vegan involves not only refraining from harmful actions but also resisting "normal" culturally accepted and encouraged behaviors.

Not only must we modify habits and behaviors...we must do so, most often, while getting greater or lesser amounts of pressure or enticements from society in general and other individual humans with whom we interact. It's sort of a double whammy kind of thing. When you think about it, it's stunning how often we make living and behaving justly (fairly) to be really really difficult. You would think it would be the reverse, wouldn't you?

Ok...go forth and quit harming...if you need help...let me know (leave a comment) and we'll see if we can figure out something. If you're living vegan already...go look in a mirror and give yourself a smile...you're worth smiling about.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Enjoy your solstice season...

Juli (my wife) worked and worked to get a photo of the boys suitable for this time of year. She finally came up with one she liked. (I got a hoot out of the boy on the right (Jon Jon) going behind the backdrop and trying to pull it down.)

Happy Solstice from Luigi Jr. and Jon Jon !
I did see some other images that seemed to convey the spirit of the season and here they are...enjoy your holiday(s) and thank you for living vegan!


I'm not sure the hat is welcome.

I don't know who these beings are...but I like the messages on their signs. Enjoy your vegan solstice!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Racism isn't funny...

Nor is using racism (disguised as humor and veganism) to make money. Pattrice Jones does a masterful job of calling out these racist efforts.

When I first ran across stuff about this phenomenon I was both amused and made uneasy by my amusement. I was naive enough initially to presume that these creators of "thug kitchen" were African American while at the same time apprehending that if they weren't their offerings were blatantly racist.

A post on this blog recently noted: "Any "ethical" movement that believes business (or capitalism) will assist it (except by accident) is in for a rude and sad-making awakening at some point. So keep your eyes open for the processes of subversion and redirecting of purpose."

The thug kitchen stuff perfectly illustrates this. Their purpose is to accumulate money...and they don't really care how they do it or who they harm in the process even as they cover their goal (profit) under the blanket of veganism.

What they present is racism being exhibited (for monetary gain) while attempting to hide it under two more acceptable covers....humor and the promoting of veganism.

If you struggle with seeing this (and given the cultural narratives which teach us to obfuscate and hide oppression this is entirely possible) then try this mind experiment. Instead of "gangsta rap" vernacular imagine their presentation is made in English that mimics the accent (Hollywood version) of a native Chinese speaker (think Charley Chan) or that it is presented in the (Hollywood version) accent and/or language structure of a speaker of a Native American language (think Tonto) and you will likely more clearly see the inherent racism.

You may want to choose your own minority group and substitute those characteristics in the "thug kitchen" presentations...all the while keeping in mind that this is the creation of two white people whose goal is money and neither are they contributing any of that money to worthy causes nor or they apologizing for any offense toward the cultural group from which they are appropriating. In addition...they kept their identities hidden until they appeared to be assured of a monetary gain. Hiding of this sort should be a profound marker that something nefarious is occurring.

It's important to realize that maliciousness and harmfulness will adapt itself to contemporary ways of expression. Several decades ago "humorous" racism exhibited itself via 'minstrel shows' where ostensibly "harmless" (nevertheless malicious) fun was made (for profit) of various distortions of the language and the appearance of African Americans. The characters were white people made up to be caricatures of African American people.

The thug kitchen stuff is a 21st century version of a minstrel show and is even more viciously destructive and repugnant than those minstrel shows simply because we ought to know better by now and...they're using veganism to cover up their racism. Ostensibly helping one oppressed group (non-human animals) by making fun of another harmed group is a swap the victim proposition and one that should be rejected and ostracized by everyone.

Please read the post by Pattrice Jones...she does a much more precise and eloquent and thorough job of explaining this than I can.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Legacy.

A post about obituaries over at the So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan blog brought to mind something that doesn't seem to receive much attention from vegans.

Reading a fairly lengthy interview with Donald Watson (which took place when he was 92 years old) made that which came to mind seem rather more important. (a big thank you to Lee Hall who posted a link to that interview).

It is doubtful that many vegans have read that interview and that's unfortunate. I almost wish it were somehow mandatory that everyone receive a printed copy of it at the onset of their living vegan and that they then read it annually (at least) for the remainder of their lives. It's a terrific interview and I hope everyone who happens to see this will take the time to read the whole thing and maybe even print it out and go back to it occasionally. He (Mr. Watson) was quite a remarkable human animal.

Donald Watson.
In his interview he touched on the thought that seems to get way too little focus from vegans and vegan organizations and that is consideration of legacies. He, in a lovely and understated way, points out something that seems to be almost completely overlooked by those who promote the vegan lifestyle.
So, I say there’s nothing wrong with colour printing providing it doesn’t obliterate the words or make them more difficult to read, especially for older people who may, for all we know, be the very people who leave legacies to the Society. The legacies don’t come from teenagers or young people who’re struggling, day by day, to live, and pay the basic living expenses, to keep their business, and their educations, going. The legacies come from older people, not rich people, but people with no dependents, very often, who can leave thousands of pounds as a kind of blood transfusion to keep our message still available for those who are drawn to read it.
Those thoughts from him seem so plain and simple and profound. Everyone who's vegan is going to eventually die, and as my friend over at So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan noted, they'll have an obituary, in addition to a legacy, and how lovely it would be if each vegan left a message of advocacy via their obituary (in addition to directing their legacy toward furthering the spread of veganism). As she points out in her post, that obituary could: "be a testimony about what was most important to you, and an appeal for others to go vegan as well".

It is deplorable that so little attention seems to be given to how very very much we owe our sister/brother Earthlings. Think of all the slave labor we've stolen from them for thousands and thousands of years. Think of all the plowing they've done (under threat of violence) for humans, all the pulling of carts, all the carrying of humans on their backs.

This photo was taken from the internet and the human depicted is doing exactly what my Mother's father did to prepare the soil to plant the crops that he grew on his farm. He (my maternal grandfather) farmed his whole life, helped raise four children (including my Mother) on a small farm in southwestern Oklahoma. None of that way of living would have been possible without the slave labor of non-human animals. My family, it could be argued, owes its very existence to the labor of non-human slaves (not to mention the deaths and misery of those who were killed for food).  We have a debt, a phenomenal and huge owing, to those mule and oxen and horse beings who were made to live their lives expending effort for our benefit.

If you think about it...and you should...the current configuration of human societies owes their very existence to the non-human animals. Certainly my mother's family does. They could not have been able to pull that plow and prepare that soil for crops...well...maybe a little...but nothing like on the scale that allowed my grandfather to grow acres and acres of corn and cotton and whatever. That allowed them to scratch out an adequate enough livelihood to raise four children.

Saying all that to say. Everyone who's vegan should be making provision to leave their legacy to furthering veganism, to helping alleviate the suffering and captivity of non-human Earthlings. Every human animal who is vegan (and non-vegan), it could be argued, owes their life's existence to those animal slaves and those animals who were victimized for food. We took from them, against their will, their labor and their lives.

Those efforts and lives are ill-gotten gains. They didn't belong to us but we took them (or our ancestors did). We got here on their backs and over their corpses (and because of eating their corpses). Everyone reading this, if they look far enough back in their family history, will eventually reach a point where they find that the livelihood of their foremothers and forefathers depended on animal efforts and animal lives. Every single reader will, most likely, find this to be true.

That's why whatever I've accumulated during my lifetime will go toward supporting vegan rescues and/or sanctuaries and/or vegan advocacy efforts. Some small bit of that accumulation might be because of my efforts...but the unpaid owings of my ancestors easily accounts for that and by far the bulk of whatever I might have is because of the beginnings I was given from the efforts of animals who weren't human. We owe reparations to them (just as we here in the U.S. owe reparations for the stolen misery and effort and labor of human slaves)...we owe and we owe tremendously. Trying to returning some of what we've stolen isn't "charity"...it's justice...it's decency...it's the right thing to do.

Use your obituary for advocacy, bequeath your legacy for vegan advocacy and for the sanctuaries and rescues devoted to the alleviation of the suffering and killing of our sister/brother Earthlings. Because we all owe them for what is and has been stolen (by violence or threat of violence) from them. Oh, and please, as Mr. Watson suggests, don't obliterate words in your vegan literature...or make them difficult to read for us older people. Ok?

(Previous blog posts here and here reference some of the ideas that are visited in this piece.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Some observations...

Heartland Rabbit Rescue cares for over 100 rabbit beings who were either abandoned (or deliberately released) by their former caretakers. Spending several hours daily with these fur people means that I've becoming rather familiar with their personalities and their behaviors.

Frank
Here's a recent photo of me holding Frank, a long-time resident of Heartland. Frank was at Heartland when I first started volunteering so I've known him for over 5 years. He definitely did not like humans when I first started and he still isn't particularly impressed with my species but he's much less inclined to growl and slap if he's approached by two-legged folks now.

Frank was outside once right after I started volunteering and a low-flying helicopter cruised over the rescue property. Frank...who at that time really really disliked humans creeped over to position himself as close to my feet as he could get. I was a much safer (even though he thoroughly disliked me) refuge to him than whatever it was that was making all that noise up in the sky. Heck, I might even protect him. Or...at least that's my speculation about what he was thinking.

Frank also exhibits one of the most common activities of the bunnies. When their enclosure is being cleaned they will often be released to run freely around in the building where they are housed. Most of the bunnies (not all of them, but most) will, upon being given freedom to roam the whole building, immediately head toward one or more of their neighbors to settle some scores. A slapping, growling and sometimes biting spat will immediately erupt. It's one of the darndest things I've ever seen. You would think they would want to run and explore after being released from confinement to a fairly small area...nope...they want to go kick some a**. Frank particularly dislikes his neighbor Abigail who lives in the back of his area. He and Abigail have serious differences and they both, if they have the chance, will tangle.

I fantasize that they say mean things to one or fart or engage in annoying habits while they are housed next to one another and when they get the opportunity to go after whomever has offended them...well...then yeeehaaaw. I've seen this so often from so many different bunnies that I've decided that one way to make a rabbit dislike another rabbit is to house them side by side for a lengthy period of time. The odds are high that they will develop quite a dislike for each other. Not always...some buns are pretty laid back and don't do this...but the majority develop some serious antipathy for their neighbors and will get into a real spat if they get the chance.

Putting living beings in close proximity to one another (and their having no choice in the matter) almost always will result in instances of antipathy...that goes for humans and for rabbits...and I betcha it goes for chickens and ducks and cows and donkeys and and and.

Saying all this to say...it sometimes makes me want to weep to think about how thoroughly and completely we've gone about convincing ourselves that the excellent beings with whom we share this beautiful planet are "different" than us. It's one of the most incredible con jobs ever successfully undertaken. Here's a broad statement that carries more accuracy than error: All living beings are more alike than they are different. Period. And yet...we walk around in a fog of human supremacist bushwa. We are truly the delusional species.

Wake up...live vegan if you aren't...and if you are then thank you. Only delusion or profound ignorance or horrid personality issues would cause you to live any other way.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A caution and a warning...

I recently ran across a link to an article that was presented in The Guardian (a newspaper in London). The article was titled: Business and entrepreneurs seize opportunities in rise of veganism. This piece is essentially all about the growth of interest in various areas of business re the plant based foods notion.

I was made very uneasy by this because while this is a positive in one way, there is something that must be kept in mind. Business/capitalism has the very powerful ability to capture and transform all sorts of things...transforming them by subverting them from their original purpose and intent into vehicles to maximize profit. That's the core purpose of business/capitalism.

Mr. James LaVeck talks about something similar to this sort of thing in a series of videos (and an essay) that can be accessed here. While he's talking about similarities between the anti-slavery movement and veganism, he also spends some time talking about the hijacking and/or the co-opting of the vegan movement.

Any "ethical" movement that believes business (or capitalism) will assist it (except by accident) is in for a rude and sad-making awakening at some point. So keep your eyes open for the processes of subversion and redirecting of purpose.

One thing that rarely gets attention is that capitalism looks at everything through the prism of money/power. This means everything gets evaluated, ultimately, only in those terms. Capitalism has nothing to do with life or with ethics or justice or with the avoidance of exploitation (indeed, business/capitalism is all about exploitation) or much of anything that people genuinely value...yet...we often seem to be oblivious to this.

Veganism is all about avoiding the exploiting of others or harming of others. Business/capitalism is all about profit. They are not the same thing. While I'm not 100% sure of this, I'm pretty much convinced that a vegan world is going to require the end of the kind of thinking and behaving that drives the stuff we now call business/capitalism. A principle goal of "no exploitation or harm" must be the heart of a vegan world...not profit.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The boys...

live here for now. When we brought Gwendolyn to our home we didn't think she would soon be joined by some youngsters. Well, Heartland ended up with two babies unexpectedly and we decided that fostering these kids might be a good thing to do.
JJ and Luigi, Jr.
I have never had the opportunity to live with baby bunnies and since these two brothers were not part of a larger group birthing (they were the only two to arrive when their mom gave birth) there was an opportunity to experience baby bunnies growing into adulthood on an up close and personal basis without having to take on a group the size of a basketball or baseball team (group births of bunnies can be large...the biggest one I've seen was 11).

So, as shown in the photo above, John Fitzgerald Kozinski (on the left) and Luigi Bunzini Junior (on the right) live here now. They were born on July 24th so they are about 4 months old. JFK is called John John or JJ and LBJ is called Weegi (we thought it might be nice for them to have the initials of a couple of presidents who helped those with less power (sometimes anyway) around) for short.

They are, like all kids, full of energy and always ready to play or be cuddled. If they want to play...they want to play...and if they want to be cuddled...they want to be cuddled. In the photo above, the fellow on the right (LBJ or Weegi) is, in my wife's phrase, a bit more 'outgoing'...which means he is high energy and fairly demanding. The fellow on the left (JFK or JJ) is less so but he is a binky meister and will let you know what he wants in his less 'in your face' manner.

I wanted to see what sort of blossoming might happen if bunnies lived in a human home and had lots of attention and no trauma. These two have known nothing but kindness, acceptance, attention and encouragement from humans...and...they are a delight to experience.


Weegi and JJ.
If I sit in the floor when they are bounding around, Weegi will climb all over me, jumping over and on my legs, standing up on my arm and sniffing my neck and face. JJ is a little more sedate and calm but both, when they've burned off some energy, will flatten themselves for headrubs. Right now they really really like each other, we hope that will stay true but...just as with human animals...time brings change and they may end up not liking each other at all. If that happens, based on what's going on now...rancor will occur because JJ is sick of putting up with Weegi's intrusive pushiness. We'll just have to see how that plays out.

Watching Weegi run is sort of a hoot...he has so much long hair that he looks sort of like a dust mop with legs hopping around. While the cute factor (to humans anyway) is over the top...all that hair (on both of them) and the whiteness mean they would be immediately attacked and killed by predators if they were placed out into the world. They are doomed to dependency and while I think they are both beautiful, I really would like to grab people by the neck who "breed" our sister/brother Earthlings and talk with great intensity to them. It's a terrible thing that has been done to these boys...and we human animals owe a great price for this crime.

If ever you are feeling like you want a little excitement and energy in your life, foster or adopt some baby bunnies. Whatever it might cost you in time and attention is much more than returned in terms of smiles and large and small delights. However, be prepared, there's no way to not lose your heart to them.

Gwendolyn is not particularly happy about having two teenaged boys around so there's no mixing between the kids and the adults. She said (behaviorally) they are a pain in the butt and I don't want to deal with them. I say teenaged because baby bunnies don't stay babies long, the hormones flow fast and all kinds of behavior changes come hot and heavy. But...that's part of the charm and fun.

Live vegan, and...if you have the time, energy, affection, resources and desire...spice up your life by adopting or fostering some babies (species aside, all babies are pretty much the same in the most important ways, they all want/need attention and affection and safety...and plenty of food).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I'm reading...

a book titled: Witnessing Whiteness (The need to talk about race and how to do it) by Shelly Tochluk. On page xiii of the introduction to the book, she writes about something most every one who is vegan might recognize:
It is highly disconcerting and offensive to be told that you are unconscious of what influences your attitudes and beliefs about the world. The insinuation that unrecognized socialization was largely responsible for my thinking and my actions struck at the heart of my sense of individuality and freedom.

Next time you broach veganism to a non-vegan and get blasted with an inordinate amount of unexpected and bewildering anger and upset, think back to that passage above and see if it doesn't help you to comprehend what just happened.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the book, along with several others that I'm reading about white privilege. Another one I found is called Bootstraps (From an American Academic of Color) written by Victor Villanueva, Jr. Well, 'enjoying' is maybe a misleading term...more like excited and dismayed at the same time. As I read, I find myself asking "where have I been, why haven't I read about or been aware of these ideas before?"

There are many observations and perceptions in these works that are significant, not only in terms of the deplorable manner in which we white people in the USA have avoided coming to grips with racism but how very very similar our pretenses about 'race' are to the pretenses we've fashioned to blind ourselves to speciesism.

Human animals in the USA live in a white supremacist culture that denies it is such, just as we live in a human supremacist culture that either denies it is one or freely admits it is one and blithely asserts that that is "just the way it is and it is supposed to be that way". It most commonly asserts that human domination and/or exploitation of our sister/brother Earthlings is "natural" and "normal". The current "normal" way of dealing with speciesism is so very reminiscent of the way race was thought about (and dealt with) 200 years ago here in the US.

It's eerie and, for me anyway, more than a little stunning and scary. Look at what we've done with racism. We've essentially said that since we passed some laws about civil rights and voting then it's all taken care of. Poof. We don't have to worry about it anymore. And, I'm not letting myself off the hook here, I pretty much blundered around with some of that same attitude for some time...at least until I started serving as a liaison (for mental health services) with the American Indian Tribal unit where I worked. Then I started coming out of the culturally induced dream of "all is well". It isn't...in many ways it's worse than it was before the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s.

Awakening from that dream prepared the way for my being able to grasp the totally disorienting movement toward veganism. I've been in a state of greater or lesser bewilderment ever since. Things are not what they seem in terms of how life is lived for non-human Earthlings nor are things what they seem for how life is lived for non-white humans (at least in the USA), just as things are not what they seem for how life is lived if you are not male. They're not what they seem for white males either but since that group (white males) don't suffer atrocities and/or horrors (beyond mental/emotional deformation) because of membership in that group...their suffering is qualitatively different from those they subjugate.

It's hard to write about this, to think about this, to feel about this...and I'm struggling to find firm ground to stand on. I do know that living as an oppressor is no good way to live nor is living as one being oppressed. We can do better than that...we must do better than that. From what I can see now, unless one is living as a vegan...then you're an oppressor. No matter if you strive to be non-racist or non-sexist or non-whatever-terrible-thing-you-try-to-avoid. You can be a sexist and a vegan or a racist and a vegan or a racist-sexist vegan...but...you can't live as a non-oppressor without living vegan. Or so it seems to me.

Being vegan doesn't mean you're not an oppressor...it just means you're trying not to oppress those who aren't members of the human species. You still benefit from the historical and current societal and institutional oppression of other animals just as (whether you're personally racist or not) you benefit from the historical and ongoing societal and institutional oppression of those who are non-white. If you're a male, even if you personally strive to be non-sexist, you benefit from historical and current societal sexism. Jeez, it makes me want to grab my head and run out in the street and start screaming. I don't know what the hell I would scream though...something incoherent and incomprehensible probably.

I'm in a state of flux now and looking back at my recent posts shows that. The flux has accelerated however over the past several months. New thinkings and ways of understanding are coming hot and heavy as of late and not much firm ground is available. One the one hand I really like it...on the other hand...it's thoroughly upsetting and disconcerting.

There is one source of solace and safety though...living vegan...that's something that seems about as hardcore OK as it gets. Whew, it's a bumpy ride, all this waking up and stuff...it's hard on us old people. Better never to have never been lulled into uncomprehending numb-nuttedness than to have to awaken from it.






Friday, November 7, 2014

Just thinking.


A recent exchange made me think about the different behaviors that we human animals exhibit towards our sister/brother Earthlings. These behaviors seem to fit into some rather easily discerned groupings. Here are five categories (and there would be some shading toward greater or lesser degrees in any category).

More thinking needs to be done, obviously the names of the groupings could easily be changed but I wanted to throw this out and see if anyone else has thought along these lines and/or your thoughts about such a grouping of behaviors. Or maybe you have some snazzier names for the groups. No research or anything has been done so there might be all sorts of stuff that's missing or redundant.

It would be fairly easy to shorthand the groups to initials (RA, N, E a or p R, EP, EA)...I'll keep thinking about names but I sort of like the exploit - restore thingee. For instance, someone who kills for "fun" (a hunter) who also supports the Sierra Club would probably be designated EaR...hmmm...an ear. I don't much think I would want to lend them mine though. The Sierra Club itself would be EpR I think and Catskill Animal Sanctuary would be RA.

The groupings are specific to behaviors only, humans obviously change their behaviors and someone could modify their behaviors say from active exploiter to active restorer...like Howard Lyman for instance. I just wanted to see if I could come up with some general groupings to help me think about how someone (or some organization) typically behaves in relation to the other Earthlings.

By the way, just to think about what percentage of U.S. citizens might fit into each of these categories, a check into charitable deductions as reported on income tax returns for recent years provides a dismal picture. Charity write-off amounts indicate that only about 2 to 3% of all charity deductions are assigned to contributions to environmental/animal welfare groups (they lump them together). Pretty sad.


Restorer – Active
: Vegans who also engage in advocacy against animal use or rescue/assistance activities for animals or the environment.

Neutral
: Vegans (avoidance of the deliberate use/exploitation of animals for food or any other purpose).

Exploiter (active or passive)Restorer: Consumers of animal products who also engage in rescue or welfare or restorative activities on behalf of animals or the environment. This would include those who limit or purposely decrease their use of animals or animal products (but who continue their use in limited amounts) and individuals or organizations who seek to prevent or ameliorate environmental destruction.

Exploiter - Passive: Consumers of animals or animal products who do not engage in activities directly harming Earthlings or the environment beyond common types of use or consumption.

Exploiter - Active: Consumers of animals who are also hunters, ranchers, slaughter-house employees, animal farmers or ranchers or employees of companies exploiting animals. This includes any environmental or Earthling damaging activity or business or promotion of such activity.

If you aren't at least Neutral (vegan), move there as quick as you can...and if you're neutral (vegan) ...think about become an active restorer. Your sister/brother Earthlings not only need us to stop harming them, they need our help too.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Big Three...

excuses for animal exploitation (use of someone or something in an unjust or cruel manner, or generally as a means to one's ends) are:
  1.  Might makes right.
  2.  We have abilities they don't have.
  3.  God said to do it.

Those pretty much cover the gamut, especially if you press someone who's trying to justify it. They will usually end up at one of the three...or maybe more than one.

What's interesting is that the "big three" excuses are pretty much the same for the oppression (the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner) of any group of living beings, be they Indigenous peoples, women, a particular race, the elderly...and on and on. All the entanglements, the social issues, the confusion, the upset, the harm...all of it generally comes down to one or more of the "big three". It's actually not that complicated at all...pretty simple actually. Such simplicity driving such misery...it makes me shake my head.

The first excuse is the stance of a dweeb, the second excuse is the stance of a narcissist and the third is the stance of someone unwilling to be responsible for their own behavior...so they fob it off on an invisible power. Ascribing credence to one or more of the "big three" doesn't say much for the ascriber, eh? Also, notice how well any one of the big three fit into the logic of domination to justify moral superiority. These three are the music for that dance of destruction we are so caught up in.

I ran across mention of the "big three" in a piece written by Pattrice Jones. It contains a wealth of information...much more than I can do justice to in this entry.  I was just was struck by the "big three" and how...like some evil spell...so much horror and suffering and misery has been created and maintained by those three trivial notions. Jeez...we are a piece of work.

I love this vegan stuff, I spent decades trying to sort through and understand human behavior and social ills and thought I had figured some things out...and I had...but nothing like the clarifications that I've stumbled onto while trying to wrap my mind around why I ignored and harmed the innocent Earthlings for so long...and why others keep doing it. It's not rocket science...it's actually fairly simple stuff. But...we do a tremendous job of blinding ourselves to that simplicity.

Simplify your life, opt out of hiding behind the "big three", become an Earthling that our sister/brother Earthlings don't mind having around. Go vegan, you'll be very glad you did...and so will they.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Errata.

I screwed up and I apologize. This was brought to my attention by a gracious and valued reader (Bea Elliot) via her comment on my entry titled Ecofeminism and such. In that post I linked to a talk by Pattrice Jones. My original link led to the wrong talk by her. My serious and humble apologies.

For those who want to visit and watch the correct talk...the linking in that post has been corrected (I hope and it is also accurately linked above). If you simply want to focus on the specific part that prompted my post, you can jump to about the 25 minute mark and follow along for the next 10 minutes or so and you'll hear her speaking about the logic of domination. (the whole talk is very informative...but I focused primarily on that particular segment)

I actually don't think Pattrice Jones does such a thing as giving a "wrong" talk, what I'm meaning is that I linked to a talk she gave about rights and that talk itself is worthy of attention but...it didn't have the segment that prompted the post. Jeez...excuse me please.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Am I my brother's keeper?

When God asked Cain where Abel was, Cain replied, angrily, with another question: 'Am I my brother's keeper?'. The greatest ethical philosopher of our century, Emmanuel Levinas, commented: from that angry Cain's question all immorality began. Of course I am my brother's keeper; and I am and remain a moral person as long as I do not ask for a special reason to be one. Whether I admit it or not, I am my brother's keeper because my brother's well-being depends on what I do or refrain from doing. And I am a moral person because I recognize that dependence and accept the responsibility that follows. The moment I question that dependence, and demand as Cain did to be given reasons why I should care, I renounce my responsibility and am no longer a moral self. My brother's dependence is what makes me an ethical being. Dependence and ethics stand together and fall together.    p.72, Zygmunt Bauman, The Individualized Society.
I was struck by this paragraph when reading because it brought to mind a post I recently made about something quite similar to what this author was saying. The word "brother" (excuse the sexist term, sexism...like a bad smell, takes a long time to dissipate) here is a substitute for those whom I mean when I use the words sister/brother Earthlings. Their well being depends on what we do...or refrain from doing. What makes any of us an ethical being is acceptance of that dependence. If you have to ask why you should care...well...

I only recently discovered the writings of Zygmunt Bauman and I've already ran across a number of exquisite thinkings from him. I'm also reading a book by him called Modernity and the Holocaust that is so very evocative and stimulating. Jeez, you just never know what you're going to stumble across.

As far as I can see...accepting the dependence of all sister/brother Earthlings means living vegan...so do so if you aren't...and if you are...thank you.