i have a lot of extremely "animal-friendly" people in my life. some are vegetarians, most are omnivores. when i read this paragraph in an article just now, it struck a chord in me for some reason. every once in awhile, that happens (you may remember my loooong-ago post about a passage from dominion) and then i feel the need to post about it and reflect on it and save it for posterity or something. so, without further ado, here is the passage:
We relegate thoughts about the creatures we eat to about the same space
we give to any crisis halfway around the world that we feel we can’t
understand or have a direct impact on. We don’t like to think about it
because there’s so little we feel we can do about it. We make
assumptions that negate the pain and suffering (at least in the case of
the animals) and absolve ourselves of responsibility in preventing or
relieving it. Just because we turn our back on the situation doesn’t
mean it isn’t there anymore. But what is our responsibility? Or, at the
very least, what is mine? Much as I try to ignore the question and dig
in, it haunts me whenever I eat meat. Worse, it has left me with the
somewhat horrifying conclusion that I am a vegetarian morally but not
in practice, the exact reverse of where I started.
this is from an article that originally appeared in SELF magazine and was later published on msnbc.com, and the full text can be found here if you’d like to read it.
anyhow, when i read this passage i instantly thought of all of the people around me who adore animals and yet continue to eat them. i am optimistic (and perhaps naive) by nature, but i think this is how i prefer to see all of those people. i feel like they are all struggling with this issue; i think i want–perhaps need–to believe that. it keeps me sane and it keeps me loving my friends and family instead of wondering if they Just Don’t Care. i would prefer to believe that they DO care, and care deeply, but just haven’t gotten to the point where they’ve done much about it yet.
my husband has informed me on more than one occasion that just because i feel strongly about something doesn’t mean that everyone agrees with me, and furthermore, that people don’t HAVE to agree with me. this is true. but when people show me glimmers of my own experience reflected in their conversations with me, it’s hard not to think that there’s a future vegan lurking in there somewhere. it gives me hope–perhaps false hope–that people are "reachable." that they’ll get there one day. i think that my husband (and maybe my sister, and most definitely many of my friends and family) thinks that i have an agenda i am pushing; that i’m trying to "make" everyone vegan. this leads to difficult conversations sometimes, but i have to say that it’s not true. not really. of course i would LOVE it if everyone turned vegan, but i’m not trying to "make" them do so. it’s more accurate to say that i honestly believe that most people (especially those i am close to) agree with me in spirit, but just not in practice. which is heartwarming in a tiny way, but makes me very sad (and at times uncomfortable, lonely, or even angry) at times.
this is something that i struggle with constantly–not only what i think about it, but how to address it (or not) in my millions of interactions with everyone i know–and suppress often. i am actually quite surprised to find myself writing as much as i am about it right now, and it’s likely i’ll regret this candor sometime soon. but that passage really spoke to me; it really summed up the way that i prefer to think of the people i love. it is much less painful than thinking that they Just Don’t Care.