and forgiveness and redemption and such like. The first and last words seem to be very similar in meaning...making up for a bad behavior but forgiveness seems to be sort of the opposite. In other words if you are forgiven you are redeemed and there is no more push or ooch toward reparations or putting right the results of a wrong.
Thoughts about this sort of stuff persist with me, if we become vegan and are living in ways that don't do nearly as much harm to other Earthlings (as we used to do)...are we then forgiven for all the harm we've previously done? Or does our previous harm ask for us to not only refrain from current or future acts of damage but also for some repairing or making up for what we did. Maybe even some repairing or making up for what others do.
I wrote a little bit about this in a previous post. One of the folks that commented (Patty) was kind enough to point out that this repairing notion is expressed by Jewish culture as Tikkun Olam: "...means "repairing the world" (or "healing the world") which suggests
humanity's shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world."
I can't return to life those beings I caused to die. None of us can (at least I haven't run across anyone like that). So I'm already in a position of having caused irreversible harm. Some doings can't be undone. I can not do them anymore...but I can't make it be as if it never happened. I owe. I owe those I've harmed and I can't really repay them...they are gone. They lived, they suffered and they died because of me and my actions and my ways of living.
Bea wrote about an instance of this sort of thing recently. It was a courageous post and it resonated strongly with me in several ways, partially because I've spent so much time around a number of Heartland Rabbit Rescue residents in the last few years so writings about bunny fur people always piques my interest. And partially because I don't know if I am brave enough to look too hard or too specifically at all the instances in my life where I hurt others because of my own foolishness or ignorance or callousness. I'm not certain I could bear doing that.
I'm still wallowing around with all this, so I don't really have any hard and fast place to stand or to be about it. I just feel that it is not enough for me live as vegan as I can. I have much to atone for, I even feel an obligation to atone for those who aren't vegan and who continue to harm. Which contributes to my low-level (usually) feeling of dismay when faced with a participant in the ongoing "breaking of the world" harmer....a non-vegan. And I don't mean that in any meddling or interfering way...I just wish others would quit hurting the Earthlings that aren't human. (Of course I don't want them to harm humans either...but that's a very different thing to me than the other....it's sort of like the difference between punching yourself in the nose versus punching somebody else in the nose).
I wish they would stop because hurting or harming others sucks and I wish they would stop because that's just that much more repairing that needs to be done.
There's another component to this that remains fuzzy and unclear to me and that is the damage we do to ourselves when we harm others. How much repairing does that call for? What kind of harm do we do to ourselves? I've been re-reading Black Like Me and some other works by John Howard Griffin recently and one of the things he struggled with was what we were doing to ourselves when we participated in and supported racism and the oppressions associated with it. What are we doing to ourselves when we support speciesism and the oppressions and harms associated with that?
I have lots more questions than I do answers, lots more un-understandings than I do understandings. That's obvious. I've found it useful to read Mr. Griffin's work and to read Ms. Hobson's works but so much more remains to comprehend and to ponder.
In the meantime...volunteering at Heartland, living vegan, helping out at Hands Helping Paws, sometime helping at Wildcare, placing Vegan Outreach pamphlets at the library, donating money to different groups...these are some of my tiny efforts at repair. There's so much to try to make up for...so much. But...lots and lots of humans are trying to do some repairing and that's worth a smile and some good feelings.