Thursday, December 1, 2011

Veganlandia, home of the harmless human animals...

Well, why not?

There could be Veganburgs (small villages of vegans), Veganvilles (vegan towns) and Veganopolises (big towns/citys of vegans....all located in Veganlandia or on the planet VeganEarth.

Naming places aside, something I find missing in the writing and advocating and such around notions of ethical veganism are speculations about cultural or societal configurations that would/could evolve that are supportive of and/or maintaining and nurturing of the vegan ethos.

I have serious reservations (translate that to mean no way in hell) that "western" culture, capitalistic society, yada yada...whatever you want to term it or call it is conducive to living in a way that doesn't harm any living beings and/or doesn't destroy their living areas (habitats) and respects the planet and those that live thereon. Other brands of societies/cultures behave just as irresponsibly and destructively...I'm just more familiar with this one...I'm not excusing any of the others.

The default position in our society (or at least so it seems to me) is to consume, grow, build, destroy nature, grab, compete, win, have sex, be strong, be beautiful, overpower, excel, exceed, improve, be handsome, get rich, have kids, defeat your competitors, get richer, get better-looking, have more sex, get smarter, succeed (which, anymore, has devolved to mean get rich, no matter how), yada yada yada. All that stuff seems so trivial and demeaning and offputting and repulsive. And sad.

Think of all the thousands and thousands of tribes, cultures, peoples, nations, etc. that human animals have congregated in and lived in during the history of our species. We must have stumbled onto some good ways of being (by 'good' ways I mean vegan ways) during that time. What are they? Where are they?

By the way, when I searched for Veganlandia, only this and this showed up when I tried...a few other obscure things did but for some substance (small though it is), those two were it and there wasn't much to them. Probably some much spiffier term is out there but I haven't stumbled across it.

Earlier I wrote a post about Leavers or Takers and recently speculated a little about some aspects of a post-veganized world but that's only a tiny bit of what a world like Einstein referenced would look like. (pardon the links to my own writing, I'm doing so because this post is about poking around in my own thinking) I even have written that maybe the purpose of human animals is to serve as an example of how not to be/live. But I don't want to believe that, although we seem to be doing a damn good job of it...we can do better...can't we?

I would really like to hear some thoughts about what a vegan society might be like...I know some nifty folks sometimes visit here and what they think would beat the hell out of anything I could come up with.

For instance, taking advantage of, profiting from, using, exploiting, unjustly imprisoning, enslaving or harming other sentient beings...all those ways of behaving seemingly so near and dear to us would have to be avoided...quit...stopped...ended. Probably I most developed some of my thinking about this when I wrote about proxy morality part zwei...but I believe lots more (and better stuff) can be thought about and written about all this...and maybe needs to be. Or not.

A few quotes that I found somewhat relevant to what I'm attempting to struggle with here were located on a site called Why Cultured Meat

" Animal liberation is the most difficult liberation struggle of all because speciesism is primordial and universal. Speciesism is arguably the first of any form of domination or hierarchy and it has spread like a deadly virus throughout the entire planet and all of human history. The problem is not limited to Western culture or to the modern world, such that there is some significant utopian past or radical alternative to recover. The problem is the human species itself, which but for rare exceptions is violent, destructive, and imperialistic. Universally, humans have vested interests in exploiting animals and think they have a God-given right to do so. To change these attitudes is to change the very nerve center of human consciousness. That is our task - no more and no less. " 
~Dr. Steve Best
This excerpt by Norm Phelps was also thought provoking to me:
 " Animal exploitation and murder are no more the result of a particular belief system, political system, or economic system than are human exploitation and murder. To think that they are is to mistake the symptom for the disease. The disease is selfishness, greed, arrogance, and a lack of compassion. As Lord Acton told us, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Human history demonstrates that whenever a system (economic, political, religious, whatever) is installed that is designed to end, or at least ameliorate, human oppression, it is fairly quickly corrupted into a new mechanism for the same old oppression. Communism, is one example, institutional Christianity another. Political and economic democracy slow the process by distributing power widely enough to prevent its concentration while placing a significant share of it in the hands of those most vulnerable to oppression. As Winston Churchill reminded us, "Democracy is the worst system of governance ever devised except for all of the other systems that have been tried from time to time." Radical social revolutions simply put a new class of oppressors in charge. I wish it were not so, but it is.
 To put it bluntly, we enslave and murder animals because it is in our self-interest to do so and we have the power to get away with it, not because of capitalism, liberal democracy, the Judeo-Christian dominionist tradition, or any of the other reasons so commonly given. These are merely after-the-fact justifications. We enslave and murder animals because we can and we enjoy the results. Change the political or economic system, and that fundamental fact will still be operative, and the enslavement and murder of animals will continue unaffected except that it will now be justified by a different set of theories, one that is compatible with the new system. "  ~Norm Phelps
So, are the other animals (and us) screwed? Or can we move past our current horridness and behave veganly...and if we can what would it be like? I wonder.


Tenllamaz said...

As an aspiring social worker, I pledge to do my part to ease suffering in the society in which I live, while at the same time holding strongly to a belief that humanity
is on a runaway train to self-destruction. These, of course, conflict, and my personal views hold even further discrepancy in the fact that I am a Christian vegan, which
is a topic for another day.I held these views of humanity's 'degeneration' long before I commited to living as a vegan, but the two viewpoints, as one would guess, complement
eachother in many ways. I have thought about the concept (as it may ultimately remain) of a vegan community, and a number of things initially come to mind:

First, on bad days when I want to spend the rest of my life under my covers and hide from the state of our planet (A desire I am positive I am not alone in), I often wish that there was
some secluded place somewhere in which I could spend my days with other like-minded people, away from the world. This is undoubtedly very selfish of me, and it is probably a good thing
that no such place exist or else my family would wonder where I suddenly went. For every other time, I immediately imagine a vegan world to look very futuristic; not simply that it is in
the future, but much like those 1950's ear depictions of the year 2000, with bubble houses and flying cars. This is my first image, strange as it may be.

Perhaps this is an illustration of just how far off I truly think such a possibility is.

Second, and much more stark, is what humanity itself might look like, if that is the whole center here. Because this "ism" is indeed such a primordial part of the human animal, it requires
a complete reset.

I heard recently during an unrelated conversation that "Interdependance is the only key to a functional human society. Communities were interdependant for every node of human history
up until very recently..." Interdependance here implies that an intrinsic sense that you awknowledge the benefits that come with a close-knit community (honesty, trust, responsibility, ect.)
Without delving into the perils of Western consumerism that you so often discuss, the larger a society becomes the less interdependance is found within it, or is even possible. Americans in
particular hold steadfast to the "Protestant Work Ethic" that, basically, entitles one to various things, and that those things are theirs and theirs alone.

So when I claim a complete reset is the absolute only way in which to ever begin such an undertaking, and then discuss interdependancy, I am infering that a whole new generation be created that is
completely kept blind from the atrocities that are commonplace to what we currently consider to be "human". This new generation would have to be shown/raised in a community that fosters vegan
ideals and responsible, human living that does not place oneself at the center of one's reality-- that their actions affect others. Parent's everyday teach their children this-- that punching Suzie
will cause her unacceptable harm-- so why not simply extend that concept to all sentient life, that there is no difference. This world is no utopia, no commune, no such thing. Crime and the like
will exist anywhere there are more than one human living together, but a base community ethos that extends the golden rule to all sentient life should be the basis.

And it is possible to incorporate religion into this setting; people such as myself do every day. (or try)

As just a note, I have loyally followed your writings since I discovered it in February. I am an enormous fan and refer to topics you've discussed all the time, particularly to older people I know who
think they cannot become compassionate simply because of their age.
Thank you for all that you do.


D.E.M. said...

How do the Jain of India do it? How long have they done it? It seems that a belief in transmigration of souls has stopped the murder of other animals ( because that rat or bug could be your mother.). Sometimes I imagine a vegan city & then I imagine being invaded for our clean water....

Molly said...

Humans have so much potential, really. I've thought about this a lot, too. I do think a vegan world would be so much better than our current one in so many ways. However, as human nature goes, there would still be problems, but probably on a smaller scale, at least?

joan.kyler said...

I'm always impressed by the compassionate, intelligent thoughts posted here, both the blog post itself and the comments.

I was just thinking, without doing the proper research, that it seems to me that the societies that held non-violence to be their foundation have lasted longer than those that embrace violence, like ours.

We have so little respect for lives except for our own and those of our families. And we lie to ourselves about the need for violence: wars, food. Broadly general comment, but we only care about 'ours'.

Annie said...

Why I visit your blog:
to stop and THINK about why I've made changes in my life and "lifestyle," and why they were important to make; to remind myself that I am not better or higher or superior to any of the other living beings with whom I share the planet; because of your ability to articulate what is easier to feel (and remain silent about).

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Jessie (signed on as Tenllamaz). I tend to agree with your thoughts re interdependence, I suspicion we aren't really equipped to operate in groups any larger than those wherein we can know each group member personally.

Sad that anyone thinks they can't become compassionate because of their age...I doubt that age has much impact on whether someone modifies their behavior or not...such things tend to be a question of motivation and willingness to change rather than age.

Again, thanks for visiting, reading and commenting.

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting DEM and Molly.

DEM: Ah but if they invaded and you were minister of defense...they wouldn't have a chance. :-)

Molly: On a much much smaller scale, I bet. :-)

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Joan.Kyler and thanks for your kind words.

I agree, there is a terrible sort of narcissistic orientation we allow and encourage in ourselves...likely such is the foundation of all the deceptions we instigate and cling to. Narcissism is, at its core, willful ignorance...which is in the same neighborhood as lying.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Annie. Your statement reminded me of something one of my favorite of grad school professors/mentors once told me. He said until we could put something into words...accurate and true is hard to really make it our own. Whether that is true or not, I don't know but I do know that often being able to put the right words to something seems to assist in understanding and assimilating least it does for me. I'm glad and gratified that my writing sometimes seems to help you with that.

BTW, I visit (An Unrefined Vegan) because of the terrific food described and reciped there. :-)

Have Gone Vegan said...

Ah, to live in Veganville...

Put shortly, yes, they (and we) are screwed. At least, that's how I feel most days. And while I still think that incremental change is better than no change (and that individuals are responsible for doing no harm even if societies around them are inherently harmful), the kind of massive shift that vegans envision will likely only occur when it becomes necessary for human survival. By that I mean we'll probably continue to screw up our planet so much so that we may not start treating other species kindly (and recognize them not to be other) until we realize human animals won't survive our endless destruction either.

Veganville sounds so nice though. And kinda reminds me of Whoville. Maybe we need to become more like Whos? ;)

veganelder said...

Thank you for taking the time to comment HGV...I know you're dealing with difficult times.

I tend to agree with you about the 'screwed' thingee. But...I remind myself that I have seen in my lifetime the furor that occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas when African American children were integrated into a public school morph to a time when an African American was the president. Strange things have indeed occurred and my glimmer of hope is nurtured by the fact that a very large percentage of people voice compassion and caring for the other animals...who knows...maybe there will be a "grand awakening"....maybe.

Whoville rules!! :-)

Bea Elliott said...

I suppose my outlook is fickle and arbitrary. It shifts often according to my energy level. Sometimes my hope-meter points to empty.

But on better days I'm wide-eyed with optimism! I see the potential (driven by necessity) of cultured meat. I see urban communities thriving. Each one with magnificent towers of plant producing facilities. They'd provide all the clean energy through algae and recycling waste. I see a renewed respect for all living beings because we've exhausted all the fun-to-be-had from material, non-organic "things".

On great days I imagine that we'll have given up on the idea or want of immortality and proceed contented with just so much life... But each would vow to live that with a passion beyond what could be realized in a thousand life-times. And what ways we would still have in the attempt to improve/expand our time would be gotten through technology - Not through disgusting animal testing.

I admit - My good days are fantastical. Equally so, my bad ones lead to inevitable destruction via an enemy virus or bacteria of our making. This is our only natural predator anyway. It's the only thing that has the potential of keeping our numbers in check... And it is sorely needed.

On bad days - Mad Max, Soylent Green and Gattica are just around the corner and all I want to do is hurry my life on so I don't have to endure it all.

I think that's what awareness does though... It forces one to live in the two extremes. Some manage to stay in that first scenario of good times ahead - That positive attitude never sways for them. I often envy their ever-half-full glass.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea.

Jeez, you are much more energetic that me...I would fall over in a stupor if I went up and down like you seem to. I tend to stay in a sort of low level depression with some smiles and laughter interspersed that is often prompted by interactions with fur or feather beings and sometimes skin beings (humans). I'm not particularly impressed with my species and the longer I live the less impressed I am with them (as a whole). Exceptions exist and they provide solace and comfort and moments of pleasure...thank you.

Having said all that, it is pretty much a wise course to cling to an optimistic view (at least the research suggest such) if for no other reason than that that stance seems to result in less negative feelings. "Don't worry, be happy" sounds sort of mindless (and is)...but feeling like crap rarely accomplishes anything.

The future? As far as I can tell we're creating a slow motion global disaster of monumental dimensions and I wouldn't want to be an 18 year old. Keep smiling! :-)