Friday, March 6, 2015


Audre Lorde might be a name you're unfamiliar with, if so, you can read about her here. She is credited with this quote:

While you're mulling over what she said, I'll add a corollary to her statement. Finding accurate information about the Master and the Master's doings will not come from the Master or those who agree with the your knowledge from those who are oppressed by the Master. I wish someone had repeated that to me many many times many many years ago...I might have been able to see things a bit more clearly earlier. At worst I would have been exposed to viewpoints not drenched in unperceived and unacknowledged privilege.

Here's another quote from quite a different human. "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

These are two very different human is quite likely you recognize the second one...he's probably one of the most well-known humans who ever lived, it's also likely you have never heard of the woman in the first photo. Yet...they both grasped something that is (for me, anyway) quite profound, obvious and elusive. The two of them essentially represent the virtual end points, from maximally denigrated to maximally celebrated, of the western patriarchal and racial hierarchy of human beings.

Albert Einstein was a white (although an asterisk has to be attached to him because he was Jewish and that grouping of humans has sometimes been considered to be not quite white) heterosexual male and Audre Lorde was a black, lesbian female. A curious combination of humans seemingly well separated in terms of positioning in the social hierarchy of European origin...yet...both definitely experienced instances of oppression...Audre Lorde's experiences are easily imagined and Albert Einstein's having to flee Hitler's Germany certainly qualifies as an instance of oppression. Oh, and just to confuse things more, Einstein was really no friend of women.

Whether they were thinking about the same thing or not is not as significant as the interesting similarities of their observations. They both reference a something to change, Audre Lorde's use of the term "Master's house" and  Albert Einstein's use of the word "problems" can be thought of wherein they're both saying there's something wrong going on and however you got into the wrong won't be solved by continuing on that path. That seems similar to the notion that you can't find the right way to do the wrong thing. Such a simple and glittering truth and yet one that appears to incessantly bewilder human animals.

Over the past several months I've been doing much reading and Youtube viewing and thinking about veganism and how it seems to be an attempt to cease the same sort of other horrid follies that we humans do...over and over. The only thing that varies is the identity of the victims. It's not that hard to come up with a listing of groups that are targets of oppression. Animals who aren't members of the human species, human women, humans who are too young or too old (children or elders), humans who are physically or mentally disabled, humans who don't pick accepted sex partners (LBGTQ), humans who have skin color outside the accepted range, humans who belong to a particular religion....and on and on.

The common factor isn't the victims so much (although there is a common factor and it is that the victims don't have the power to effectively resist their being oppressed), no the common factor that is sort of spooky is that one group of beings pretty much (sometimes with others piling on) figures prominently on the side of the oppressors in every instance noted in the previous paragraph. One, two or three characteristics pretty much cover all instances of oppression I can think of and most often it's all three...male, white, heterosexual...oh...and one other is a given for all and that is being a member of the human species.

It's iffy to find a group of beings who's wholly innocent insofar as refraining from oppressing other beings simply because of their membership in some group or other...except...probably it's difficult to make a case that any non-human groupings of animals engage in such nastiness. Think about this...what if you stuck all human males in a box for a few years and let the rest of the world roll on...what would it be like? Fewer pregnancies, obviously, but what other changes might occur? Think about it this way, ignoring the fewer pregnancies, would the pluses outweigh the minuses?

It's something to think about...please live vegan while you're thinking and while you're at it...go ahead and avoid other ways of oppressing living beings too. Also remember that it is highly unlikely that the ways that got us into this mess we've made of ourselves and of mother Earth is going to be the path we can follow out of the mess.

That means profound changes are going to be required...and the changes are going to have to go beyond identifying victims (although that's a necessary part of it). No, the change is going to require seeing/thinking/comprehending/understanding things differently and changing how we relate to and behave toward other living beings and mother Earth. Veganism addresses the group of victims harmed the most severely doesn't address the mindset of oppression...and that must be changed else we'll just continue going from one set of victims to another to another and on and on. This is a process that is very much still in play...much thinking and understanding still needs doing by us. (Thanks Angie)


Christine said...

Interesting article which I hope I have understood correctly. The ideal of veganism to my mind is to harm none or differentiate between living beings regardless of race, creed, gender, species or any other category. Easier said than done I am afraid as prejudice goes deeper than the obvious categories, such as ageism, intelligence and even academic accomplishment or lack thereof. Where there is a difference of any sort there will always be some prejudice and sadly on some level it seems to be innate. Being vegan I try and to avoid such discrimination but from time to time some thought or even deed may rear its ugly head against my volition. The difference is as vegans we try and ignore such thoughts recognise them for what they are and try to live a good a vegan life as is possible trying to avoid harm to all beings equally regardless of perceived differences.

joan.kyler said...

Isaac Bashevis Singer's quotes have always inspired me. According to him: 'in their behaviour towards creatures, all men were Nazis.' I've always found it difficult to understand how people of any race or religion can inflict on animals (and often on other people) the same atrocities inflicted on them. If violence inflicted on one group is wrong, it is always wrong.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Christine. As you note, prejudice isn't so much the issue as is the potential for subsequent actions that might be hurtful or harmful. In the end we have to be always cognizant and vigilant about whether we do such things no matter the situation.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Joan. As you accurately observe, we seem to really struggle with the idea of not doing stuff to others that we would find objectionable. It looks simple but apparently isn't.

Anonymous said...

The other night I was reading Lorde's essay on the uses of anger and it had not occurred to me until just now to put veganism and animal rights in that context. Thank you for the mind expand!!

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting vixbond. It's always a smile maker when someone has a mind expand. :-)

Audre Lorde is an unknown treasure to's good to hear from one of her fans...reading her guarantees many mind expands.