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.)