I don’t know about you, but lately I am pissed. And crabby. And disillusioned. Kind of terrified. Pretty disgusted. Totally over it.
Lots of negativity coming from a blog that professes to be “a journal of light and love,” eh? Let’s hash it out.
I hate the bad things that are happening in the world. I hate the president. Most of all, I hate using the word “hate.” And you know what? Aside from the brief rush that comes from spitting out a vitriolic statement, there is literally no good that comes from it.
Saying I hate the president accomplished one of two reactions from you. Either; 1. You raised your fist in the air and shouted (maybe in your head), “ME TOO!” or; 2. You immediately stopped reading and vowed never to patronize this blog ever again. In which case you aren’t even reading this, so…shoot. Should have thought that through.
Either way, no great change took place. No lives were saved, not one single problem was solved. 100% ineffective. And now I have the word “hate” on my blog. Six times now. Hate. Seven.
I do have a point.
I was listening to the Rich Roll Podcast recently (highly recommend BTW), and a random guy made a comment about the plant based lifestyle. He said something to the effect of “There is only peace in this diet. No suffering took place for a meal.” (As I’ve said before, zero chance of being sued for plagiarism due to my inability to remember quotes verbatim) Anyway, it resonated with me. By avoiding animal products, nothing in my cupboard got there by virtue of someone else’s pain. Nobody had to die in order for me to enjoy my sandwich. No mother’s baby was taken away so that I could have milk in my cereal. And on some days, that’s good enough. It eases my own pain that comes when I think about the horrors that take place in the animal agriculture industry. Because I’m not part of it.
Other days, it’s not enough.
I often feel like a Very. Bad. Vegan. The good vegans are out there fighting the good fight. Posting pictures of slaughterhouses and shaming vegetarians who haven’t made the full commitment to give up their cheese. Similarly, I feel like a coward when I see a particularly strong post on Facebook about protecting funding for Planned Parenthood, or the rights of a transgender person to use the bathroom of their choice. Instead, I find myself “liking” a post poking fun at Trump, or nodding in solidarity at a beautifully written essay supporting addiction recovery and the way our health system has failed us. Not sharing. Not writing my own essay. Maybe broaching the topic with my mom, or my husband, but avoiding it in every social setting. God forbid I rock anybody’s boat. If they knew I was pro-choice, pro-women’s and LGBTQ’s and minorities’ and animals’ rights they might disagree with me and – GASP – not like me.
I think I’m done with that. In that same Rich Roll Podcast episode, Rich’s wife, Julie, talks about how she dealt with being vegan and health conscious in her marriage to Rich before he made those same choices. In the beginning, she pushed. She lectured. She talked to all of her same-minded friends who reinforced her RIGHT-ness on the topic. All the while watching her husband scarf down double cheeseburgers. And then, one day, she stopped.
With minimal words and all of the actions, she essentially said, “This is how I am living. This works for me, and I think it’s right on many levels. But I love you no matter what. So do what works for you.” And lo and behold, he started paying attention. Today, he is vegan, and an ultra-athlete, and an advocate for all things ethical and healthy.
One of my favorite movies is Michael. In it, the angel, Michael, tells a story. I think it’s actually a classic fable, and I will surely mess it up. Oh well. It goes something like this:
The wind and the sun were arguing about who was stronger. They decided to put their quarrel to the test with a passing traveler, when the wind claimed he could get the man’s coat off of him faster. The wind blew and blew, but the harder it blew, the tighter the traveler gripped his coat to his body. Then the sun came out and shone down upon him. Warmed by its rays, the man took off his coat.
I love this. I don’t want to blow like the wind. But I want to show up, like the sun. Hiding behind a cloud with my beliefs isn’t going to sway anyone, but neither will blowing at them with anger. You’re not going to stop eating meat because I tell you it’s evil, or slap you across the face with a drumstick like I’m challenging you to a duel. You’re just going to zip up your coat and never speak to me again. But if I say to you; “This is how I’m living my life. It feels good, and here is why. But I love you, no matter what.” maybe you’ll hear me. Maybe you’ll put my words in your pocket, and find them someday when you need them. Maybe you won’t, but at least we’ll still be friends.
In general, wouldn’t we all be a lot happier if we could just say our piece, and then love each other regardless of its immediate effect? Even if we don’t all end up agreeing, there would wind up being a lot more love in the world, which in and of itself is a change worth working toward.
I am against animal cruelty, and, any industry, however “humane” it claims to be, that slaughters animals, falls within my definition of cruelty. I am for the rights of all people, no matter where or how or to whom they are born. I am for all the things that make our Earth healthier. By definition, these platforms make me “against” certain organizations, leaders, industries. I’m going to start saying those things – proudly – and speaking my piece. In peace.
But when it comes to each, individual, flawed-as-all-get-out person. Like me. Like you. I’m for you. And whatever you decide to do, I love you. No matter what.