Monday, October 18, 2010

Stick your fingers in your ears, squeeze shut your eyes and sing "la la la"........

Compassionate, educated, caring, intelligent human animals want to know about the world they live in and about what they are doing. Right?

Back when I was a young and unseasoned beginning psychotherapist, one of my wiser professors told me that facts do not change attitudes.....he could have added that facts do not necessarily change behaviors either. At the time, I did not quite understand what he was talking about. I now know he was quite correct in his observation......I am still uncertain about the mechanism(s) that makes this true.

One thing that likely contributes is that change takes more energy and effort than inertia. It is work to explore, test and decide on new ways of doing something rather than continuing on some previously established path or routine. Most organisms are inherently conservative in this respect....youth notwithstanding. The principal reason youngsters are willing to try new things is that they have no history with enough longevity to have established any well-routinized patterns. This is not always the case however, as any parent knows, sometimes getting a child to try something new or different can be incredibly difficult. It just depends....on the child, on the situation.......on what I am not sure.

Of this I am sure, many otherwise kind, caring, intelligent, compassionate human animals absolutely do not want to know about the suffering and abuse and terror and death that their routine, everyday, usual food and clothing choices - and other choices and actions causes to be inflicted on rabbits, cows, chickens, pigs and sheep - and other animals.

They would much rather, as the title of this post indicates.....stop up their ears, shut their eyes and sing "la la la" to avoid the facts (and sights and screams of terror and pain) that might cause them to have to reconsider how they go about choosing their food or what to wear.

I have had people say quite clearly that they "did not want to know" when presented with evidence of the horrors of animal use. Compassionate people, caring people, intelligent people.

Except their compassion and caring seems to evaporate when it comes to animals that are not human animals or dog animals or cat animals or rabbit animals or perhaps parakeet animals or maybe hamster animals.

Somewhere in that list of kinds of animals, all that caring and compassion disappears and it seems to turn into "anything goes as long as I don't have to directly know about it".

I am puzzled by this, and unsettled and not at all comfortable with it, I do not understand. It bothers me a lot.

I do not know how to view those that seem to presume that deliberate ignorance precludes responsibility for the consequences of ones behavior. Or maybe ignorance and/or inertia does obviate responsibility and culpability and I am too dense to get it.

I am bothered by all this.....a lot.


Krissa said...

It bothers me too a lot and I think about it a lot. And when you wrote,
"Of this I am sure, many otherwise kind, caring, intelligent, compassionate human animals absolutely do not want to know about the suffering and abuse and terror and death that their routine, everyday, usual food and clothing choices (and other) choices and actions causes to be inflicted on rabbits, cows, chickens, pigs and sheep.", it really hits home with me because almost all of the people closest to me fit that description. My husband, his parents and aunt and uncle and one very good friend of mine are the only people in my life who are not like that. And that bothers me, but to think of it as a many, *many* people fit that description is actually pretty horrifying. It's one of the things that often makes me feel hopeless. And actually, because of it, I guess that deep down inside, I DON'T believe that things will ever change that much, but I always try to force myself to overcome that feeling. Certainly this intentional apathy and self-imposed and carefully enforced ignorance is one of the worst traits of humankind. It is beyond sad and beyond dumbfounding and rather infuriating. And I don't know if it will ever change. I hope so.

veganelder said...

Jeez, Krissa, you have (comparatively) a lot of people in your life who are "not like that". I know all of 2.75 people "not like that" as compared to the 6 you list. ....the .75 is someone who is almost vegan but not quite...

I don't think so much about it "ever" changing....future predicting has always been a futile, inexact and frustrating activity for me so I avoid it whenever possible...I recommend the same to you. One thing is obvious to me is that unless the human population drastically reduces itself soon, the planet itself is quite likely to do it....that's about the only future stuff I feel semi-certain about.

What troubles me and troubles me greatly is that I knew that people I thought were "good", "kind" people could do terrible things depending on a situation (fear, anger, etc) but somehow I did not KNOW KNOW it. I had no concept at all that kind folks could do heinous things with such apparent insouciance and blaseness. I wonder if I did not have some secret childish belief that I would KNOW if someone had it in them to do terrible things....I am uncertain whether this is the case and continue to flounder with the whole thing....this is an ongoing process (a damned uncomfortable and vexing one, I might add).

I do know that this avoidance and blase continuation of terrible behaviors makes me look at each person what way differently I can't say precisely but it has changed how I see them and just how or where that will end up I don't know.

I can attest to this....any way of living that does not include "no exploitation and no unnecessary harm" to other living beings is a shallow, destructive and ugly way of living and one that is indefensible from any perspective that includes compassion and integrity.

Krissa said...

Just wanted to add this...I'm reading that interesting interview with Donald Watson (thanks!) and it reminded me of something else that pertains to humans' willful ignorance regarding the aspect of eating our fellow animals. Human beings' teeth and digestive systems are not made for consuming "meat". Why do most people not believe me when I tell them that? It is a biological fact. Biologically, in a pinch a human could eat meat, but we are NOT made for that. I guess the willful ignorance of that fact helps people to keep that rose colored lie intact when it comes to consuming our fellow beings.

So I'm Thinking Of Going Vegan said...

I think the vast majority of people don't want to know because that will then mean that they have to take responsibility and change their behaviour.

I also think every single person is capable of terrible things (becoming vegan has certainly not changed any of my other negative character traits!), but also good things, and I suppose the challenge is to let the impulse to be good override the impulse to be bad. On the whole though it seems to be a losing battle. :(

Bea Elliott said...

Your description of someone with their fingers in their ears humming "la-la-la" literally happened to me. I attempted to tell an otherwise compassionate and intelligent vegetarian about the baby calves that are sacrificed in the dairy industry. This grown adult woman did the whole "avoidy" thing... "la-la-la". My respect for her diminished on the spot.

I don't know how people can choose to be ignorant. When I had the very first hunch that "something" was foul about the animal/meat/food system - I immediately wanted to know more! Truth was my goal. I don't know how anyone can function without that as a basis of reality.

It frightens me sometimes to be in a world of deliberately disconnected people. Hard to judge what (or who) they will compromise to keep their fake world in tact. To extend the fable about the kid revealing the naked emperor... I'm not too sure he wasn't stoned the very next day! :(

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting SITOGV. Just a long battle, not a losing one. :-)

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting Bea. He likely was stoned.

I too am astonished by the deliberate avoidance of information...such does not tend to be my way of operating either. It baffles me and sometimes appalls me.

One way to think about how far people will go to maintain a disconnect...about 620 thousand folks died in the civil war. That was about 2% of the population.....or 2 people out of 100 died then in order to maintain a lie...the lie being that slavery was justified or moral or necessary or a "right".