Monday, January 27, 2014

Stranger in a strange land.

Recently one of the blogs, Animal Rights, I follow regularly posted a piece entitled Applesauce and Boiled Pigs (the author is adept both at writing and title creating). She often writes essays that are both funny and painful and this one included content that is smile making and also sad and also dismaying.

I responded with a comment that included the phrase "stranger in a strange land". Science fiction affectionados will recognize the phrase as one used by Robert Heinlein to title one of his most well known books. One that I read way back when I was fairly young and deeply immersed in the reading of science fiction. The book, by the way, centers around a character who, as an outsider, challenges many well-accepted social mores (and eventually gets murdered for his trouble).

What I was trying to wrestle with in my comment was the fact that veganism and the realizations of truths that drive someone to live life as a vegan carry a rather heavy price. Not the least of which is that taking this path is going to place one outside (and not just a little bit outside) of the mainstream way of living of most all of the human cultures on the planet. Culture and her footsoldiers (all those who practice particular ways of seeing things and doing things) do not suffer change gladly. This is a truth most everyone who has protested or resisted or even avoided participation in the murderous mayhem that is accepted as "reality" knows well.

It doesn't matter that veganism extends and places into practice behaviors and ways of feeling and thinking that are generally considered good or desirable...such as compassion, kindness, respect for others, etc. None of this matters to the cultural behemoth. What stirs resistance is doesn't matter that the change is positive or that the change can only be considered good or beneficial...what matters to the culture is that it is different. Period.

If you step out of "being normal" be prepared to discover that human animals are generally not all these wonderous things we've been told that they are. Being frightened of applesauce doesn't say much for intelligence or rationality or wisdom or insight. Be prepared to discover a number to things that are painful about human behavior. Daniel Quinn addressed this phenomenon in his book Ishmael (more in this previous post). He does a great job of exploring this difficult topic.

Be prepared to learn too, if you haven't already, that: "Animals are no where near as different from humans as we’ve been taught..." (source). There's sort of a balance we move toward giving up delusions of "specialness" and "uniqueness" we discover that we live in a world where special and unique doesn't just apply to one type of animal but to all animals. We find we have many more and varied beings that are enjoyable and admirable and that enrich us for knowing them.

Becoming a stranger in a strange land can be painful and disorienting and difficult to endure. But it also can make the world much bigger and more phenomenal than we ever thought it could be. I've met wise rabbits and sassy donkeys and silly ducks...and if I had continued to live in ways that included being threatened by applesauce...I would have been blind to the uniqueness of each of those beings.

Being a stranger in a strange land doesn't mean there aren't other humans there with you either. If you've opted for the strange stranger path (veganism) be sure to be kind to the other human strangers you encounter. You know it's a tough road because you're on's tough for them encouragement, acceptance and appreciation are always beneficial. Being vegan means living a life of kindness to strangers...those strangers being all the other animals that you will never meet that were spared harm because of your veganism...remember to be kind to the human strangers too.

One final thought. If at all possible, get involved with a rescue and/or sanctuary, not only to help them...but to help yourself. By that I mean I think it is nourishing (that's the best word I can think of) to spend lots of time around other types of beings. Especially beings that are safe from harm by humans.

Rescues and sanctuaries (vegan ones) are the closest thing there is to a vegan world that we have right now.

Being involved with a place like that lets you get a taste of what we're all struggling to achieve. It can be a transformative experience. And, if there isn't a vegan rescue or sanctuary near you...maybe you can get involved with one that isn't and begin the process of changing it. I think most of us spend way too much time around other humans and not nearly enough time around unhuman Earthlings...especially other Earthlings who are safe and who are given the respect and acceptance that they deserve. They blossom...and hanging out with blossoming beings is pretty nifty.


Laloofah said...

Thank you for this post, dearest veganelder, and for the link to the Applesauce and Boiled Pigs post, on which I just broke my long blog-commenting silence with an equally long comment. :-)

I agree with you (oh, what a surprise, lol) about being a stranger in a strange land, but in fact I find it a point of pride that we stopped drinking the Kool-Aide, literally and figuratively, so many years ago. It's painful and challenging at times to bear witness to the cruelty and willful ignorance and brainwashed insanity out there, and I long for the day when that is what is considered alien and strange - but in the meantime, I am grateful to no longer be a card-carrying member of the masses.

Mostly, though, I wanted to say I love your idea of vegan retreat experiences at the rabbit rescue! As you are so well aware, places like that, and the animals who live there, possess a profound power that heals, nourishes and inspires. I have only had the opportunity to visit one, Peaceful Prairie, and that was several years ago now - but the experience has stayed with me, undiminished by time.

AND, I wanted to say hello, and wish you a belated Happy New Year! Lots of xoxo to you and the bunnies and donkeys and ducks (oh my)! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! I feel as if I get loads of free therapy from you all the time :)
I will look into a trip to a sanctuary for when classes end. My daughter would love that too. Will keep you updated.

Bea Elliott said...

A mis-fit. An outsider. A Stranger in a Strange Land. A square peg in a round hole... A non-conformist. A crazy Cat-Lady. An eccentric... How painful it would be to identify with these labels if not for knowing that it's no prize to be *normal* in a sick world...

It does come as a shocker though to realize that there's no cosmic, evil-plot that makes humans this way... It's just a matter of sad apathy and ignorance. It's hard not to be sympathetic with strangers who haven't had the opportunity (or courage) to question their conditioning. Whenever I'm tempted to be curt or silent I remember a post somewhere here that suggested we just haven't said what was needed in the right way yet... Besides, how can any of us ever stop trying to get the truth heard?

Excellent advice to rejuvenate a tired heart through spending time with rescues, rehab, sanctuaries or even the great-out-doors, if your lucky enough to be able to commune with nature at all... I don't think any of us are ever strangers in those situations. It's home.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Laloofah. I was a bit surprised to see your comment, a happy surprise. I'm glad you aren't a "card carrying member of the masses"...all the best aren't and you're one of the best.

As for vegan retreat...I'm still wallowing around with all of it somewhat. I've been spending some hours daily at HRR for over 3 years now and it's changed me. I haven't been quite able to form the accurate words about how yet but it has happened and the changing has to do with being in a place where no one gets hurt and everyone is respected and matter how large or small or whether they're covered with hair or feathers. Their voice doesn't matter or their looks...just that we're all participating in life on Earth together. There's something quietly powerful and change-making about that. The bunnies make you begin to attend to subtlety because so much of their communicating is with quiet looks and small gestures. Once you get to where you understand a little of their ways of communicating...the world gets much bigger and richer and...different somehow.

I'm glad you like the idea, I still have lots of growing to do about it but I realized what a nifty thing it could be and I'm glad you see that.

Happy New Year back to you and I'll convey your greetings to the HRR crowd. :-) (thank you for all your terrific photos and writings)

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting DEM. I hope I didn't sound like I was therapizing. I'm mostly trying to figure things out and maybe my stumbling around saying that isn't said well enough. Really though, when I think about it, why wouldn't veganizing the world be somehow transforming? Maybe we are immersed in a worldview and cultural understanding that is much more impactful and distorting than we understand and the more often and persistently we are able to escape it...maybe the more we begin to recover from it. And then...the world and her beings seem different. Just maybe.

I do know this...Earthlings who aren't human are mostly more nourishing to be around than "normal" humans. That's a truth...a pitiful one (re humans anyway)...nevertheless it is a truth. Therefore...the more you can hang around other Earthlings...the more likely you are to feel nourished. Get thee henceforth to a sanctuary! :-) (A vegan one preferably because there you will be less likely to meet confused and inconsistent human animals.) And thank you for your great posts!

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea. And as stated it precisely and's home. Maybe that's a truth we're trying to can't be strangers with Earthlings who are just trying to live their lives and who avoid harming others. Maybe.

That there's not an evilness making us the way we seem so easily to be...that's both disheartening and liberating. Disheartening because there's no one else or nothing else to blame...liberating because if we can so apparently easily be one way...maybe we can so easily be another way. :-)

I thought of you yesterday when I was greeted by Bea the bunny. She usually stands up and asks for a head rub when I arrive in the morning and I complied with her request and talked a bit to her about her namesake. She seemed pleased. :-)

Anonymous said...

Not "therapizing" at all! I sometimes feel shattered by this world and your posts help me pick up the pieces :)
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.