Friday, March 28, 2014

Do this please...

...copy the letter below, paste it into your word processing software and modify it to reflect the situation in your area and then send it off to the editor of your local newspaper as a letter to be published.

Dear Editor:

Over the next few weeks, many local adults will be tempted to buy an Easter rabbit for a beloved child, godchild, grandchild, niece, or nephew.  And a few months from now, our local animal shelters will be, as they are every year, inundated by a flood of cast-off bunnies.  Heartland Rabbit Rescue asks that everyone who is considering buying a rabbit this year stop and think about three important facts:

First, although rabbits can make wonderful pets, they are naturally fragile and easily frightened.  An active child who expects a cuddly pet can terrify or even injure a rabbit.

Second, a well cared for rabbit should live as long as a dog or cat (ten years or more) and will require just as much love, attention, and specialized veterinary (including spaying/neutering) care as a dog or cat would. No living being is a prop to “teach” responsibility, they are a commitment and an obligation...one often way beyond the capabilities, capacities and resources of a child. 

Third, just as there are countless dogs and cats without homes, so are there numerous rabbits who are languishing in shelters and rescues...often doomed to be killed unless adopted. Never buy a living being, if you wish to share your home with another species, visit your local rescue organizations and adopt in order to save a life.

If you want to make this Easter happy for a child (and for the Easter bunny too) don’t give a live rabbit, give a stuffed or vegan chocolate bunny instead and make a donation to one of the many excellent local animal rescues on their behalf.

Some form of the above example letter can serve as one of your contributions to activism on behalf of our fellow Earthlings. Make it an annual practice...your letter may save a life. Consciousness raising is a necessary activity in the quest for a vegan planet. Letters like this can assist in reducing ignorance and making invisible victims visible. (If you want, include a specific reference to baby chickens and ducks who are also at risk for being used as a "gift" during this time of year.)

Often this is a time of trepidation and worry for the rescues/sanctuaries who offer some place of safety for these victims because many operate on shoestring budgets supported only by donations and many of these facilities are at or over capacity and don't have room for more residents. Enrich your holiday by supporting these islands of safety and refuge any way you can and if they don't promote veganism...begin to gently educate them.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Images....

This photo of the face of a donkey knocked me out.

I saw this on facebook and was entranced...I did not research the origin of the image hence I'm not certain whether is has been manipulated or not...nevertheless it is a striking picture. (my thanks to the creator)

Finally, this graphic with a quote from Albert Schweitzer.


If you want to be an amazing human animal...live vegan...if you are already doing so...go look in the mirror and be amazed. (and please accept my thanks both from me and from those without human words).




Friday, March 14, 2014

The irony...

isn't lost on me. My last post was about how we human animals aren't particularly at ease with violence and yet....yesterday while chatting in the lobby of the local library...chatting with a relative stranger...I had to struggle hard to hold back my impulse to grab the man by the throat and shake/choke him. I was stunned by the rapidity of the desire as well as the incredible strength of it. I actually had to turn my body a little away from him to help me control myself. I felt a burning flush spread from the middle of my stomach to the top of my head. It was all so unexpected and so strong that it seemed almost surreal.

I was leaving the library after checking out an armload of books when I ran into a woman that I knew casually through my previous work. I hadn't seen her in 4 or 5 years and actually didn't recognize her until she said something. She was with her husband whom I had never met and we introduced ourselves and shook hands...all the usual doo dah that the culture/species calls for upon strangers meeting. The woman and I were chit chatting about what we had been doing over the past few years and I shared that I was spending time almost daily helping out at Heartland Rabbit Rescue. They were both surprised that there was such a thing as a rabbit rescue at all, much less in central Oklahoma...then the fun started.

The man said something to the effect of rabbits...they are what you eat aren't they? It was right there that I surprised the hell out of myself by almost attacking the guy who was trying (I suppose) to be funny. I was caught totally off guard by my powerful and rapid reaction. While holding back I was also trying to think of what to say...I guess my face/body showed something, I don't know. I responded by saying something to the effect that as far as I knew the only group on the planet that had said it was ok for humans to kill other beings were the humans...that I didn't know of any other animal that had said...hey humans...come and kill me....and I said that killing someone else was murder and I didn't think murder was ok at all. I then asked him if he knew what veganism was...he said he had heard the term but really didn't know...so I told him about what it meant and that we didn't have to eat animals to survive...that it was all some made-up crap we told ourselves to justify hurting others without looking like total a**holes.

He seemed to realize that I was having some strong feelings and maybe that I was angry...he became conciliatory sounding and appearing. He said he had hunted when he was younger but gave it up because he didn't like it and hadn't hunted in 30 years.

After a bit more chit-chat we did the good-bye thingee and went our separate ways. I've been churning on some level ever since. I truly was and am stunned at my response. I don't anger very easily...and I don't think about or feel like being violent toward others hardly ever. And yet...there it was. I'm still processing this...as I was sitting in the car I realized that his joking was the emotional equivalent...for me...of his saying that my wife or my sister or my father or mother  are what you hunt and eat. The rabbits of Heartland (and all rabbits) have become members of my family and I love them and if they're threatened (even jokingly) I respond with angry feelings/impulses.

It's been awhile since I've been in a situation where someone tried to be funny about killing...especially about killing rabbits (or any Earthling). I've changed...being vegan changes how I see the other animals...it's changed how I see people who hurt other animals...it's changed how I respond to jokes about hurting others. I'm changed and my reactions and responses have changed. And I wasn't a particularly good ambassador for veganism nor was I very articulate. It is probably always disconcerting when we encounter an aspect of ourself that we were unaware of. And I was genuinely discombobulated...and still am for that matter.

We may be uncomfortable with physical violence...I am...but that doesn't mean we don't have impulses to be violent. I did...I wanted to grab that guy so strongly I could almost taste it. But...I didn't. I stopped myself...I was even able to speak and be coherent (I think). We may want to be violent...but we don't have to be. That's the good thing.

My apologies to Darby and all bunnies and all the victims of human animals...I wasn't a very effective or convincing advocate on their behalf yesterday. I stumbled through the encounter and got away from it without behaving violently...I guess that's the best thing about it. Attacking strangers in the lobby of a library isn't a good way to advocate for living without harming others.

Please live vegan if you aren't already...but be forewarned...doing so will change you in more ways than you might know...it certainly has done that in my case.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Teach your children deux....

In part one of this theme, I did not provide much in the way of positives in terms of teaching human children (or adults for that matter). Bea Elliott, one of my greatly appreciated and esteemed readers, noted in her comment on the post that it was "an awful lot of awful evidence that things will always remain on the dismal slant." (some of Bea's fine work can be found here and here)

I really don't think things will always be slanted toward the dismal and there is much evidence that we human animals aren't naturally oriented in that direction. However, the fact is that we seem to be awfully susceptible to being snookered (by ourselves) into viewing our world in such ways that result in our behaving dismally...that's what I was trying to express.

We don't thrive in those sorts of circumstances however...violent and destructive and harmful behaviors aren't growth promoting ways of being nor are we particularly at ease with them. We may "adjust" to them (and often do) but it seems to cost most of us quite a bit. For instance, we have the ability to become 'desensitized' to violence...and that's troubling...yet what is hopeful here is the fact that we react to violence in the first place. In other words, we react negatively to exposure to violence and in order to be able to tolerate it we have to make some kind of adjustment and/or accommodation. Which strongly suggests that our baseline level of being is violence aversive. We naturally don't like it. We can "adjust" to it but the adjusting costs us in terms of emotional resources and effort.

Another very positive thing about we human animals is the fact that we make great efforts to hide places of violence and destruction from ourselves. Either by physically locating places of horror and harm out of sight...or by deluding and lying to our own perceptions and thereby pretending that they don't exist...or that they don't matter. It is not by accident that the great harmers, both of contemporary  and historical times, expend much effort on hiding what they do.

The massive Holocaust in Europe was not undertaken in Germany itself, rather the murder factories were established in out of the way places in Poland. The torture carried out by the United States in its "war" on terrorism is carried out in "dark" sites and hidden bases and remote locations. The agents of repression and intimidation are called "secret" police...in some unconscious recognition of our baseline revulsion at such activities. The proliferation of "ag-gag" efforts on the part of lawmakers here in the US is another instance of our knowing, without openly acknowledging, that the activities we are trying to hide are repulsive to most.

No, it isn't all dismal, nor do I believe it will always be...but our predilection to "other" those who differ from the in-power groups and then to denigrate and persecute the "others" is a strong strain in our make-up and one that we must struggle against constantly and diligently. Being cautious about the unfamiliar, being afraid of the novel...these are strategies that likely assisted in survival (in evolutionary terms)...yet these useful strategies are so terribly easily tumped over into demonization and hatred of and harm to the different.

No, it isn't all dismal, only the disturbed and the deficient aren't disturbed by violence...yet we seem to listen way too often to those who seek violence. We're a mixed bag of impulses and abilities and the voices and influence of the harmers seem to overwhelm those who seek not to harm...but it doesn't have to be that way.

The ultimate expression of commitment to equality and respect for all is veganism and the secret weapon that the vegan way of living has going for it is that we are animals who are disturbed by violence. It might be a small still voice, that disturbance...but it is natural and normal and it is the most reliable ally of a vegan world. Or so it seems to me.