Saturday, December 27, 2014

The way I see it...

If you oppose racism, if you oppose sexism, if you oppose the strong victimizing the weak...and you aren't vegan...you have a gaping hole in your conceptual repertoire and you need to do some reading and thinking and observing of the world around you. Figure it out and you'll end up vegan.

If you don't (end up vegan) then there's a serious hitch in your figuring out process.

You're following a line of reasoning that leads to the logically accurate and correct conclusion that speciesism is comprised of exactly the same sort of destructive distortions/delusions and behaviors as are sexism and racism (and all the other 'isms' of harm)...only the victims are changed...but many good and true opponents of those systems of oppression and harm recoil and fall into a mental/emotional black hole when they arrive at speciesism. Vapor-lock kicks in when they encounter the challenge to the notion of human supremacy.

Look at this bit of writing.

It is possible to not be racist (in the individual sense of not perpetrating overtly racist acts) and yet at the same time fail to be antiracist (in the political sense of resisting a racist system). Being not-racist is not enough. To be a fully moral person, one must find some way to be antiracist as well. Because white people benefit from living in a white-supremacist society, there is an added obligation for us to struggle against the injustice of that system.

The same argument holds in other realms as well. Men can be successful at not being sexist (in the sense of treating women as equals and refraining from sexist behaviors) but fail at being antisexist if we do nothing to acknowledge the misogynistic system in which we live and try to intervene where possible to change that system. p.80

The Heart of Whiteness, Robert Jensen
We can easily modify that first paragraph (changes are underlined) in terms of actors and associated oppressive behavior. You can change the second paragraph yourself if you want...but I think you get the point well enough with just this example.

It is possible to not be speciesist (in the individual sense of not perpetrating overtly speciesist acts) and yet at the same time fail to be antispeciesist (in the political sense of resisting a speciesist system). Being not-speciesist is not enough. To be a fully moral person, one must find some way to be antispeciesist as well. Because human animals benefit from living in a human-supremacist society, there is an added obligation for us to struggle against the injustice of that system.


Oppressions are all the same dance of harm and hurt and destruction...only the dancers change from one type of oppression to another. And it's an ugly dance...one where even the ostensible "winners" are losers. The gratuitious harming of others inflicts misery on the victim and degrades the perpetrator...it's not a "win-win" nor is it a "win-lose"...it's a "lose-lose more" situation. Veganism offers the opportunity to approach a "win-win" situation...and only veganism offers this chance.

You are an oppressor, if you support speciesism, racism or sexism or any other version of victimization of the weak by the strong via violence or any other means. As an oppressor you are...whether you like it or not...the cause and driving force behind almost all of the self-inflicted problems human society has or creates (which is, arguably, the majority of the problems we have). Whatever positives you think about yourself as an oppressor...the unspeakable horror and misery you bear responsibility for far outweighs any tiny amount of "good" you think you might be doing or have done.

One definition for social justice reads: "Social justice is the ability people have to realize their potential in the society where they live."

Veganizing this results in a definition that reads: "Social justice is the ability sentient beings have to realize their potential in the society where they live." That seems fairly simple to grasp...all we need to do is leave our sister and brother Earthlings alone and let them work things out within their own societies. Leaving them alone means leaving their environment alone too.

Veganism is the logical end point of any striving toward social justice, even if the original goal was the unveganized definition...many of the prominent figures in the great surge of seekers toward social justice that began gathering momentum in the 1950s and on into the 1960s and early 1970s realized this and ended up vegan. (Cesar Chavez , Angela Davis, Coretta Scott King, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz) This grouping (and there are others) of individuals were instrumental in the movements that advocated for Chicanos, African-Americans, Women's liberation and Native Americans.

Unless and until behaviors and attitudes that condone one (stronger) group oppressing and/or victimizing another (weaker) group are relegated to history...until then we human animals will remain not only our own worst enemy...but also the worst enemy of all living beings and of Mother Earth herself.

This truth seems self-evident...yet we obviously have a terrible time grasping this simple reality. Each human culture (some much more than others) deviates from this small simple truth. Each human culture spins ideas, stories, legends and myths that hide and distort this fact. Each human society turns away from this easily understood foundation for living and interacting with others. Each variant of equality denial (racism, sexism, nationalism, etc) rests on the often unspoken delusion underlying all of them...anthropocentrism or human supremacy.

Each human society resists (some much more frequently and persistently than others), ridicules, reviles and represses those who advocate for fairness and justice.

If your life is lacking in ridicule and resistance and instances of outright anger and hostility...then begin advocating for or promoting veganism. Greater excitement will be entering your experiential realm very soon. Pardon the sarcasm, but one of the more astonishing things I've encountered is the incredible resistance that pops up in seemingly "nice" people when they encounter the simple notion of justice associated with veganism. Seemingly 'rational' and kind humans often exhibit amazingly convoluted irrationalities when they encounter veganism. My own personal guesstimate is you're lucky if 1 out of 10 (and that's being generous) are able to fight through their cultural conditioning to a point where they can apprehend the justice inherent in a vegan way of living. Sadly, among even those few who comprehend the justice of veganism, even fewer still, then rouse themselves enough to pursue a vegan way of living...even when they acknowledge the awfulness of not doing so.

Living vegan is a requirement for a just and honorable way of being and many become upset or outraged at being asked to look at their desire to harm others or their complicity in the harming of others and their knowledge that this is an unjust way of being. We are profoundly prone to defend our "innocence" even when we are obviously and clearly un-innocent. Few of us are comfortable with harming others.

The level of resistance and avoidance and upset (and sometimes belligerence)  strongly suggests a hidden core of agreement overlaid with serious denial. We tend to become the most upset and irate (when we're engaging in denial) regarding things about which we have greater or lesser degrees of ambivalence or uncertainty.

Challenges to stances that we take or perspectives that we've assumed as a result of judicious and rational reasoning based on accurate knowledge of ourselves and the world around us do not...in general...result in upset and outrage when they are challenged. But...when we've assumed or simply taken viewpoints and/or sets of behaviors handed to us by our culture...and never really thought about them and their foundations/implications. Well...challenges to those can cause much turmoil and resistance...especially when they are faulty.

Someone would have to be a serious and deadly sociopath to not have some element of ambivalence about harming others...and most human animals...thank goodness aren't sociopaths. However, neither are most humans able to easily overcome cultural conditioning and strongly held social mores...and...as far as I know...all current human societies beat the drum, to lesser or greater degrees, of human supremacy...so part of the task of living vegan involves not only refraining from harmful actions but also resisting "normal" culturally accepted and encouraged behaviors.

Not only must we modify habits and behaviors...we must do so, most often, while getting greater or lesser amounts of pressure or enticements from society in general and other individual humans with whom we interact. It's sort of a double whammy kind of thing. When you think about it, it's stunning how often we make living and behaving justly (fairly) to be really really difficult. You would think it would be the reverse, wouldn't you?

Ok...go forth and quit harming...if you need help...let me know (leave a comment) and we'll see if we can figure out something. If you're living vegan already...go look in a mirror and give yourself a smile...you're worth smiling about.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Enjoy your solstice season...

Juli (my wife) worked and worked to get a photo of the boys suitable for this time of year. She finally came up with one she liked. (I got a hoot out of the boy on the right (Jon Jon) going behind the backdrop and trying to pull it down.)

Happy Solstice from Luigi Jr. and Jon Jon !
I did see some other images that seemed to convey the spirit of the season and here they are...enjoy your holiday(s) and thank you for living vegan!


I'm not sure the hat is welcome.

I don't know who these beings are...but I like the messages on their signs. Enjoy your vegan solstice!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Racism isn't funny...

Nor is using racism (disguised as humor and veganism) to make money. Pattrice Jones does a masterful job of calling out these racist efforts.

When I first ran across stuff about this phenomenon I was both amused and made uneasy by my amusement. I was naive enough initially to presume that these creators of "thug kitchen" were African American while at the same time apprehending that if they weren't their offerings were blatantly racist.

A post on this blog recently noted: "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."

The thug kitchen stuff perfectly illustrates this. Their purpose is to accumulate money...and they don't really care how they do it or who they harm in the process even as they cover their goal (profit) under the blanket of veganism.

What they present is racism being exhibited (for monetary gain) while attempting to hide it under two more acceptable covers....humor and the promoting of veganism.

If you struggle with seeing this (and given the cultural narratives which teach us to obfuscate and hide oppression this is entirely possible) then try this mind experiment. Instead of "gangsta rap" vernacular imagine their presentation is made in English that mimics the accent (Hollywood version) of a native Chinese speaker (think Charley Chan) or that it is presented in the (Hollywood version) accent and/or language structure of a speaker of a Native American language (think Tonto) and you will likely more clearly see the inherent racism.

You may want to choose your own minority group and substitute those characteristics in the "thug kitchen" presentations...all the while keeping in mind that this is the creation of two white people whose goal is money and neither are they contributing any of that money to worthy causes nor or they apologizing for any offense toward the cultural group from which they are appropriating. In addition...they kept their identities hidden until they appeared to be assured of a monetary gain. Hiding of this sort should be a profound marker that something nefarious is occurring.

It's important to realize that maliciousness and harmfulness will adapt itself to contemporary ways of expression. Several decades ago "humorous" racism exhibited itself via 'minstrel shows' where ostensibly "harmless" (nevertheless malicious) fun was made (for profit) of various distortions of the language and the appearance of African Americans. The characters were white people made up to be caricatures of African American people.

The thug kitchen stuff is a 21st century version of a minstrel show and is even more viciously destructive and repugnant than those minstrel shows simply because we ought to know better by now and...they're using veganism to cover up their racism. Ostensibly helping one oppressed group (non-human animals) by making fun of another harmed group is a swap the victim proposition and one that should be rejected and ostracized by everyone.

Please read the post by Pattrice Jones...she does a much more precise and eloquent and thorough job of explaining this than I can.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Legacy.

A post about obituaries over at the So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan blog brought to mind something that doesn't seem to receive much attention from vegans.

Reading a fairly lengthy interview with Donald Watson (which took place when he was 92 years old) made that which came to mind seem rather more important. (a big thank you to Lee Hall who posted a link to that interview).

It is doubtful that many vegans have read that interview and that's unfortunate. I almost wish it were somehow mandatory that everyone receive a printed copy of it at the onset of their living vegan and that they then read it annually (at least) for the remainder of their lives. It's a terrific interview and I hope everyone who happens to see this will take the time to read the whole thing and maybe even print it out and go back to it occasionally. He (Mr. Watson) was quite a remarkable human animal.

Donald Watson.
In his interview he touched on the thought that seems to get way too little focus from vegans and vegan organizations and that is consideration of legacies. He, in a lovely and understated way, points out something that seems to be almost completely overlooked by those who promote the vegan lifestyle.
So, I say there’s nothing wrong with colour printing providing it doesn’t obliterate the words or make them more difficult to read, especially for older people who may, for all we know, be the very people who leave legacies to the Society. The legacies don’t come from teenagers or young people who’re struggling, day by day, to live, and pay the basic living expenses, to keep their business, and their educations, going. The legacies come from older people, not rich people, but people with no dependents, very often, who can leave thousands of pounds as a kind of blood transfusion to keep our message still available for those who are drawn to read it.
Those thoughts from him seem so plain and simple and profound. Everyone who's vegan is going to eventually die, and as my friend over at So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan noted, they'll have an obituary, in addition to a legacy, and how lovely it would be if each vegan left a message of advocacy via their obituary (in addition to directing their legacy toward furthering the spread of veganism). As she points out in her post, that obituary could: "be a testimony about what was most important to you, and an appeal for others to go vegan as well".

It is deplorable that so little attention seems to be given to how very very much we owe our sister/brother Earthlings. Think of all the slave labor we've stolen from them for thousands and thousands of years. Think of all the plowing they've done (under threat of violence) for humans, all the pulling of carts, all the carrying of humans on their backs.

This photo was taken from the internet and the human depicted is doing exactly what my Mother's father did to prepare the soil to plant the crops that he grew on his farm. He (my maternal grandfather) farmed his whole life, helped raise four children (including my Mother) on a small farm in southwestern Oklahoma. None of that way of living would have been possible without the slave labor of non-human animals. My family, it could be argued, owes its very existence to the labor of non-human slaves (not to mention the deaths and misery of those who were killed for food).  We have a debt, a phenomenal and huge owing, to those mule and oxen and horse beings who were made to live their lives expending effort for our benefit.

If you think about it...and you should...the current configuration of human societies owes their very existence to the non-human animals. Certainly my mother's family does. They could not have been able to pull that plow and prepare that soil for crops...well...maybe a little...but nothing like on the scale that allowed my grandfather to grow acres and acres of corn and cotton and whatever. That allowed them to scratch out an adequate enough livelihood to raise four children.

Saying all that to say. Everyone who's vegan should be making provision to leave their legacy to furthering veganism, to helping alleviate the suffering and captivity of non-human Earthlings. Every human animal who is vegan (and non-vegan), it could be argued, owes their life's existence to those animal slaves and those animals who were victimized for food. We took from them, against their will, their labor and their lives.

Those efforts and lives are ill-gotten gains. They didn't belong to us but we took them (or our ancestors did). We got here on their backs and over their corpses (and because of eating their corpses). Everyone reading this, if they look far enough back in their family history, will eventually reach a point where they find that the livelihood of their foremothers and forefathers depended on animal efforts and animal lives. Every single reader will, most likely, find this to be true.

That's why whatever I've accumulated during my lifetime will go toward supporting vegan rescues and/or sanctuaries and/or vegan advocacy efforts. Some small bit of that accumulation might be because of my efforts...but the unpaid owings of my ancestors easily accounts for that and by far the bulk of whatever I might have is because of the beginnings I was given from the efforts of animals who weren't human. We owe reparations to them (just as we here in the U.S. owe reparations for the stolen misery and effort and labor of human slaves)...we owe and we owe tremendously. Trying to returning some of what we've stolen isn't "charity"...it's justice...it's decency...it's the right thing to do.

Use your obituary for advocacy, bequeath your legacy for vegan advocacy and for the sanctuaries and rescues devoted to the alleviation of the suffering and killing of our sister/brother Earthlings. Because we all owe them for what is and has been stolen (by violence or threat of violence) from them. Oh, and please, as Mr. Watson suggests, don't obliterate words in your vegan literature...or make them difficult to read for us older people. Ok?

(Previous blog posts here and here reference some of the ideas that are visited in this piece.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Some observations...

Heartland Rabbit Rescue cares for over 100 rabbit beings who were either abandoned (or deliberately released) by their former caretakers. Spending several hours daily with these fur people means that I've becoming rather familiar with their personalities and their behaviors.

Frank
Here's a recent photo of me holding Frank, a long-time resident of Heartland. Frank was at Heartland when I first started volunteering so I've known him for over 5 years. He definitely did not like humans when I first started and he still isn't particularly impressed with my species but he's much less inclined to growl and slap if he's approached by two-legged folks now.

Frank was outside once right after I started volunteering and a low-flying helicopter cruised over the rescue property. Frank...who at that time really really disliked humans creeped over to position himself as close to my feet as he could get. I was a much safer (even though he thoroughly disliked me) refuge to him than whatever it was that was making all that noise up in the sky. Heck, I might even protect him. Or...at least that's my speculation about what he was thinking.

Frank also exhibits one of the most common activities of the bunnies. When their enclosure is being cleaned they will often be released to run freely around in the building where they are housed. Most of the bunnies (not all of them, but most) will, upon being given freedom to roam the whole building, immediately head toward one or more of their neighbors to settle some scores. A slapping, growling and sometimes biting spat will immediately erupt. It's one of the darndest things I've ever seen. You would think they would want to run and explore after being released from confinement to a fairly small area...nope...they want to go kick some a**. Frank particularly dislikes his neighbor Abigail who lives in the back of his area. He and Abigail have serious differences and they both, if they have the chance, will tangle.

I fantasize that they say mean things to one or fart or engage in annoying habits while they are housed next to one another and when they get the opportunity to go after whomever has offended them...well...then yeeehaaaw. I've seen this so often from so many different bunnies that I've decided that one way to make a rabbit dislike another rabbit is to house them side by side for a lengthy period of time. The odds are high that they will develop quite a dislike for each other. Not always...some buns are pretty laid back and don't do this...but the majority develop some serious antipathy for their neighbors and will get into a real spat if they get the chance.

Putting living beings in close proximity to one another (and their having no choice in the matter) almost always will result in instances of antipathy...that goes for humans and for rabbits...and I betcha it goes for chickens and ducks and cows and donkeys and and and.

Saying all this to say...it sometimes makes me want to weep to think about how thoroughly and completely we've gone about convincing ourselves that the excellent beings with whom we share this beautiful planet are "different" than us. It's one of the most incredible con jobs ever successfully undertaken. Here's a broad statement that carries more accuracy than error: All living beings are more alike than they are different. Period. And yet...we walk around in a fog of human supremacist bushwa. We are truly the delusional species.

Wake up...live vegan if you aren't...and if you are then thank you. Only delusion or profound ignorance or horrid personality issues would cause you to live any other way.