Friday, May 9, 2008

Choices 1

Expanding on comments I made in an online discussion.

Essentially there are two options. You can live as if humans are all that really matters and the planet and all other forms of life are just there for us to do whatever we want with. This kind of arrogance is what led us to the mess we're in now--overpopulation, greed, collapsing ecosystems, human-caused extinctions, nuclear waste, miles of plastic in the oceans, and the kind of people who post here as if killing is an amusing joke. They like to claim they're part of the food chain when actually they try to stay as far removed from being part of the natural world as possible, and because they are living as if they're not really dependent on that natural world, they deny or don't care about what happens to anything but themselves.

I think the person who claims "Food Chain!" in this kind of discussion is more likely to drive their air-conditioned SUV to a fast food joint and not raise any of their own food. It's like hunters who claim "Primitive History" as their rationale while they use 21st century technology in all aspects of their life. If folks think being part of the food chain is so important, they should spend time being stalked by a cougar.

Or, second option, you can see humans as one part of a big picture, act with humility and have respect for all the life around you, live as simply as circumstances allow, doing as little harm and causing as little violence and death as possible. Understand that every animal you choose to eat was an individual just like your cat or your dog; not an object for your use, but a creature who wants to enjoy his or her life as much as you do.

I believe we're nearing the end of a brief window in time which made those two options possible. The industrial world is winding down and the illusion of distance, superiority and control over the natural world, as well as the opportunity of living without deliberately causing the death of other creatures, are both going to come to an end. Whether I'm right or wrong about that, for now you do have that choice. You can choose to support unnecessary suffering and violence or you can choose to support love and respect. Just don't expect me to respect you equally whichever choice you make, because there's no doubt in my mind which is the more honorable choice.

If I am right, what’s the future lack of choice mean for people’s eating habits? I think the answers are hunting, gathering, and small scale agriculture. In that sense, people who are currently hunting for food or slaughtering their livestock (leaving aside bigger questions of whether a person has any right to “own” another being or land) are certainly more connected with the natural world than I am, and more representative of how future humans will be living.

In that aspect, it’s a way of life that I have more respect for than my own way of life. I’ve taken some of the tests which measure the effect of your lifestyle, and though I live much, much, much more simply than most Americans, we’d still need 2 or 3 planets if everyone lived like me. If I were willing to kill animals, I’d be living much more simply in a hut in the woods. But I’m not willing to end a life when I don’t need to, so People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or People Eating Tasty Animals? In both cases we have people and animals presented as opposing entities, separated by ET. I just wanna go home.


Lisa J. said...

Just don't expect me to respect you equally whichever choice you make, because there's no doubt in my mind which is the more honorable choice.

I think there are going to be a lot of surprised members of the food-chain when they find themselves forced to be vegetarian or slaughter their own animals. Personally, I don't know anyone who would want to slaughter a cow on their own, but I don't know many who would willingly become vegetarian.

All those jokes made at my expense? Well, I continue to smile & take it "like a man" because like you said, I know I'm right.

greentangle said...

It's interesting that you picked that sentence because I wrote 3 or 4 versions of it and still don't know if I'm happy with it. I was trying to not be insulting (kind of unusual for me to care, I know) while still stressing that's it's not the same type of choice as pulp or no pulp.

I agree that personally killing an animal would be very unpleasant for a lot of people who think nothing of eating them now.

Lisa J. said...

Yeah, that sentence jumped out at me immediately. It pretty much sums up how I feel when someone criticizes me. I feel so deeply in my heart that not eating animals is "honorable" that I sometimes just feel sorry for people who haven't woken up to this idea.

I do say "wake up" because it is a form of enlightenment, isn't it? Seeing the right path in front of you then hoosing the right path when faced with the decision. Me not eating meat might not directly affect the person criticizing me, but it does affect the animals who's flesh I don't put into my body.

Stephanie said...

Reminds me of this (from a post I wrote a year ago):

"And if after you know, you really think it's worth it--if you really think your enjoyment of the taste of something is important enough to warrant these unbelievably cruel, horrifying, stomach-churning practices, so be it. But if you can live with that, if you can be comfortable with that, if you think this is acceptable--and you still want to carry on a congenial relationship with me--you better not tell me what you've decided; you may be able to forgive yourself, but don't expect me to."

I'm OK with being blunt or even arguably insulting now and then. ;)