Sunday, November 30, 2014

A caution and a warning...

I recently ran across a link to an article that was presented in The Guardian (a newspaper in London). The article was titled: Business and entrepreneurs seize opportunities in rise of veganism. This piece is essentially all about the growth of interest in various areas of business re the plant based foods notion.

I was made very uneasy by this because while this is a positive in one way, there is something that must be kept in mind. Business/capitalism has the very powerful ability to capture and transform all sorts of things...transforming them by subverting them from their original purpose and intent into vehicles to maximize profit. That's the core purpose of business/capitalism.

Mr. James LaVeck talks about something similar to this sort of thing in a series of videos (and an essay) that can be accessed here. While he's talking about similarities between the anti-slavery movement and veganism, he also spends some time talking about the hijacking and/or the co-opting of the vegan movement.

Any "ethical" movement that believes business (or capitalism) will assist it (except by accident) is in for a rude and sad-making awakening at some point. So keep your eyes open for the processes of subversion and redirecting of purpose.

One thing that rarely gets attention is that capitalism looks at everything through the prism of money/power. This means everything gets evaluated, ultimately, only in those terms. Capitalism has nothing to do with life or with ethics or justice or with the avoidance of exploitation (indeed, business/capitalism is all about exploitation) or much of anything that people genuinely value...yet...we often seem to be oblivious to this.

Veganism is all about avoiding the exploiting of others or harming of others. Business/capitalism is all about profit. They are not the same thing. While I'm not 100% sure of this, I'm pretty much convinced that a vegan world is going to require the end of the kind of thinking and behaving that drives the stuff we now call business/capitalism. A principle goal of "no exploitation or harm" must be the heart of a vegan world...not profit.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The boys...

live here for now. When we brought Gwendolyn to our home we didn't think she would soon be joined by some youngsters. Well, Heartland ended up with two babies unexpectedly and we decided that fostering these kids might be a good thing to do.
JJ and Luigi, Jr.
I have never had the opportunity to live with baby bunnies and since these two brothers were not part of a larger group birthing (they were the only two to arrive when their mom gave birth) there was an opportunity to experience baby bunnies growing into adulthood on an up close and personal basis without having to take on a group the size of a basketball or baseball team (group births of bunnies can be large...the biggest one I've seen was 11).

So, as shown in the photo above, John Fitzgerald Kozinski (on the left) and Luigi Bunzini Junior (on the right) live here now. They were born on July 24th so they are about 4 months old. JFK is called John John or JJ and LBJ is called Weegi (we thought it might be nice for them to have the initials of a couple of presidents who helped those with less power (sometimes anyway) around) for short.

They are, like all kids, full of energy and always ready to play or be cuddled. If they want to play...they want to play...and if they want to be cuddled...they want to be cuddled. In the photo above, the fellow on the right (LBJ or Weegi) is, in my wife's phrase, a bit more 'outgoing'...which means he is high energy and fairly demanding. The fellow on the left (JFK or JJ) is less so but he is a binky meister and will let you know what he wants in his less 'in your face' manner.

I wanted to see what sort of blossoming might happen if bunnies lived in a human home and had lots of attention and no trauma. These two have known nothing but kindness, acceptance, attention and encouragement from humans...and...they are a delight to experience.


Weegi and JJ.
If I sit in the floor when they are bounding around, Weegi will climb all over me, jumping over and on my legs, standing up on my arm and sniffing my neck and face. JJ is a little more sedate and calm but both, when they've burned off some energy, will flatten themselves for headrubs. Right now they really really like each other, we hope that will stay true but...just as with human animals...time brings change and they may end up not liking each other at all. If that happens, based on what's going on now...rancor will occur because JJ is sick of putting up with Weegi's intrusive pushiness. We'll just have to see how that plays out.

Watching Weegi run is sort of a hoot...he has so much long hair that he looks sort of like a dust mop with legs hopping around. While the cute factor (to humans anyway) is over the top...all that hair (on both of them) and the whiteness mean they would be immediately attacked and killed by predators if they were placed out into the world. They are doomed to dependency and while I think they are both beautiful, I really would like to grab people by the neck who "breed" our sister/brother Earthlings and talk with great intensity to them. It's a terrible thing that has been done to these boys...and we human animals owe a great price for this crime.

If ever you are feeling like you want a little excitement and energy in your life, foster or adopt some baby bunnies. Whatever it might cost you in time and attention is much more than returned in terms of smiles and large and small delights. However, be prepared, there's no way to not lose your heart to them.

Gwendolyn is not particularly happy about having two teenaged boys around so there's no mixing between the kids and the adults. She said (behaviorally) they are a pain in the butt and I don't want to deal with them. I say teenaged because baby bunnies don't stay babies long, the hormones flow fast and all kinds of behavior changes come hot and heavy. But...that's part of the charm and fun.

Live vegan, and...if you have the time, energy, affection, resources and desire...spice up your life by adopting or fostering some babies (species aside, all babies are pretty much the same in the most important ways, they all want/need attention and affection and safety...and plenty of food).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I'm reading...

a book titled: Witnessing Whiteness (The need to talk about race and how to do it) by Shelly Tochluk. On page xiii of the introduction to the book, she writes about something most every one who is vegan might recognize:
It is highly disconcerting and offensive to be told that you are unconscious of what influences your attitudes and beliefs about the world. The insinuation that unrecognized socialization was largely responsible for my thinking and my actions struck at the heart of my sense of individuality and freedom.

Next time you broach veganism to a non-vegan and get blasted with an inordinate amount of unexpected and bewildering anger and upset, think back to that passage above and see if it doesn't help you to comprehend what just happened.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the book, along with several others that I'm reading about white privilege. Another one I found is called Bootstraps (From an American Academic of Color) written by Victor Villanueva, Jr. Well, 'enjoying' is maybe a misleading term...more like excited and dismayed at the same time. As I read, I find myself asking "where have I been, why haven't I read about or been aware of these ideas before?"

There are many observations and perceptions in these works that are significant, not only in terms of the deplorable manner in which we white people in the USA have avoided coming to grips with racism but how very very similar our pretenses about 'race' are to the pretenses we've fashioned to blind ourselves to speciesism.

Human animals in the USA live in a white supremacist culture that denies it is such, just as we live in a human supremacist culture that either denies it is one or freely admits it is one and blithely asserts that that is "just the way it is and it is supposed to be that way". It most commonly asserts that human domination and/or exploitation of our sister/brother Earthlings is "natural" and "normal". The current "normal" way of dealing with speciesism is so very reminiscent of the way race was thought about (and dealt with) 200 years ago here in the US.

It's eerie and, for me anyway, more than a little stunning and scary. Look at what we've done with racism. We've essentially said that since we passed some laws about civil rights and voting then it's all taken care of. Poof. We don't have to worry about it anymore. And, I'm not letting myself off the hook here, I pretty much blundered around with some of that same attitude for some time...at least until I started serving as a liaison (for mental health services) with the American Indian Tribal unit where I worked. Then I started coming out of the culturally induced dream of "all is well". It isn't...in many ways it's worse than it was before the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s.

Awakening from that dream prepared the way for my being able to grasp the totally disorienting movement toward veganism. I've been in a state of greater or lesser bewilderment ever since. Things are not what they seem in terms of how life is lived for non-human Earthlings nor are things what they seem for how life is lived for non-white humans (at least in the USA), just as things are not what they seem for how life is lived if you are not male. They're not what they seem for white males either but since that group (white males) don't suffer atrocities and/or horrors (beyond mental/emotional deformation) because of membership in that group...their suffering is qualitatively different from those they subjugate.

It's hard to write about this, to think about this, to feel about this...and I'm struggling to find firm ground to stand on. I do know that living as an oppressor is no good way to live nor is living as one being oppressed. We can do better than that...we must do better than that. From what I can see now, unless one is living as a vegan...then you're an oppressor. No matter if you strive to be non-racist or non-sexist or non-whatever-terrible-thing-you-try-to-avoid. You can be a sexist and a vegan or a racist and a vegan or a racist-sexist vegan...but...you can't live as a non-oppressor without living vegan. Or so it seems to me.

Being vegan doesn't mean you're not an oppressor...it just means you're trying not to oppress those who aren't members of the human species. You still benefit from the historical and current societal and institutional oppression of other animals just as (whether you're personally racist or not) you benefit from the historical and ongoing societal and institutional oppression of those who are non-white. If you're a male, even if you personally strive to be non-sexist, you benefit from historical and current societal sexism. Jeez, it makes me want to grab my head and run out in the street and start screaming. I don't know what the hell I would scream though...something incoherent and incomprehensible probably.

I'm in a state of flux now and looking back at my recent posts shows that. The flux has accelerated however over the past several months. New thinkings and ways of understanding are coming hot and heavy as of late and not much firm ground is available. One the one hand I really like it...on the other hand...it's thoroughly upsetting and disconcerting.

There is one source of solace and safety though...living vegan...that's something that seems about as hardcore OK as it gets. Whew, it's a bumpy ride, all this waking up and stuff...it's hard on us old people. Better never to have never been lulled into uncomprehending numb-nuttedness than to have to awaken from it.






Friday, November 7, 2014

Just thinking.


A recent exchange made me think about the different behaviors that we human animals exhibit towards our sister/brother Earthlings. These behaviors seem to fit into some rather easily discerned groupings. Here are five categories (and there would be some shading toward greater or lesser degrees in any category).

More thinking needs to be done, obviously the names of the groupings could easily be changed but I wanted to throw this out and see if anyone else has thought along these lines and/or your thoughts about such a grouping of behaviors. Or maybe you have some snazzier names for the groups. No research or anything has been done so there might be all sorts of stuff that's missing or redundant.

It would be fairly easy to shorthand the groups to initials (RA, N, E a or p R, EP, EA)...I'll keep thinking about names but I sort of like the exploit - restore thingee. For instance, someone who kills for "fun" (a hunter) who also supports the Sierra Club would probably be designated EaR...hmmm...an ear. I don't much think I would want to lend them mine though. The Sierra Club itself would be EpR I think and Catskill Animal Sanctuary would be RA.

The groupings are specific to behaviors only, humans obviously change their behaviors and someone could modify their behaviors say from active exploiter to active restorer...like Howard Lyman for instance. I just wanted to see if I could come up with some general groupings to help me think about how someone (or some organization) typically behaves in relation to the other Earthlings.

By the way, just to think about what percentage of U.S. citizens might fit into each of these categories, a check into charitable deductions as reported on income tax returns for recent years provides a dismal picture. Charity write-off amounts indicate that only about 2 to 3% of all charity deductions are assigned to contributions to environmental/animal welfare groups (they lump them together). Pretty sad.


Restorer – Active
: Vegans who also engage in advocacy against animal use or rescue/assistance activities for animals or the environment.

Neutral
: Vegans (avoidance of the deliberate use/exploitation of animals for food or any other purpose).

Exploiter (active or passive)Restorer: Consumers of animal products who also engage in rescue or welfare or restorative activities on behalf of animals or the environment. This would include those who limit or purposely decrease their use of animals or animal products (but who continue their use in limited amounts) and individuals or organizations who seek to prevent or ameliorate environmental destruction.

Exploiter - Passive: Consumers of animals or animal products who do not engage in activities directly harming Earthlings or the environment beyond common types of use or consumption.

Exploiter - Active: Consumers of animals who are also hunters, ranchers, slaughter-house employees, animal farmers or ranchers or employees of companies exploiting animals. This includes any environmental or Earthling damaging activity or business or promotion of such activity.

If you aren't at least Neutral (vegan), move there as quick as you can...and if you're neutral (vegan) ...think about become an active restorer. Your sister/brother Earthlings not only need us to stop harming them, they need our help too.