Wednesday, February 10, 2016

This May Make People Think...Or Make Them Angry

Since last November, I've been writing some short essays on my opinions of cultural and social norms and reactions. I've never put them anywhere, just wrote them for myself and a friend of mine whom I talk about these things with often. I don't put them up anywhere largely because I'm not ready to be fully judged on what I think on things, as well as the surface-based look at things - I rarely did any research, instead writing open-ended, allowing readers to see that my mind is open to input.

There is one subject that keeps popping up, however, that I did write about, but still sits in my head, simmering. It makes me kind of frustrated. The subject in question was veganism.

On the whole of it, I personally don't care a bit about what people eat. It doesn't hurt anyone, or at least it shouldn't. Just like someone's religion should be harmless when that person practices it on their own, and their interpretation is tolerant and observes a non-violent, non-radical system. What annoys me are the people, like those religious fanatics, who overwhelmingly care about what other people eat and if they don't share the same ethical ideas, they're free to consider themselves saintly and superior while the non-conformists are viewed as disgusting animals. No one likes something forced down their throat, whether its religion or someone else's ethics and potential disgust.

But that's just one narrow aspect of it.

I've thought a lot about where vegans and vegetarians come from, why they feel it's wrong to eat meat or any food that could be considered once a living thing. No doubt they've done their research and developed their ideas and ethics from how they've judged the knowledge they've acquired. In places, I absolutely agree with their reasoning.

I think it's definitely a noble cause to treat animals better. While I doubt the majority of the livestock industry - which is regulated by agencies controlled by the government - consists of cruel sadists who, like the worst serial killers, torture and beat and literally take animals apart alive - these people certainly exist, and animals are surely beaten and unnecessarily tortured for no reason whatsoever. Those people could be called inhuman, and they definitely should pay the consequences. The same goes for hunting for sport - killing an animal merely so you can have your picture taken with the corpse, its head fixed to your wall. It's pointless and only serves to heighten one's false feeling of superiority, the grand knowledge that you're at the top of the food chain. I don't think killing an animal makes you superior. I think it makes you stupid for doing something unnecessary and potentially screwing up the natural order. Do it in absolute self-defence; do it if you need the animal - not just the meat - to help you survive. And in that case, do it in real moderation.

In terms of the 'natural order,' I'm just referring to a natural balance. Species come and go throughout the millennia, whether they're eaten extinct as they weren't evolved enough to withstand or hide from predators, or the environment was harsh, or other means exterminated them. Species go extinct - it's a natural part of life on earth - but it shouldn't be because of an involvement that was superficial or too big or advanced, off-balanced. I'm unsure if any species other than humanity has eaten another species of animal to extinction. And if there are species of animal throughout earthly history that have over-hunted another species, I bet it took a lot longer than we ever did in over-fishing our oceans and hunting game for sport to near-extinction.

The only valid point I can see with veganism and vegetarianism is to protest against the unethical treatment of animals. Which is noble, but in my opinion kind of backwards and way more difficult than simply dealing with those who treat animals inhumanely. Responding to sadists by boycotting their products won't change their methods because the North American diet is so inclusive of meat - extremely so in the U.S. - that they won't ever suffer significant business loss, and if they did, would that really change their attitude? Maybe they're not making as much money, or even any, but they're still probably going to take it out on their poor livestock. I think we probably need more people like Temple Grandin.

Putting animal ethics aside, I don't understand that attitude. If animals were universally treated right - something that likely only exists in a perfect world - people would still ethically believe it's wrong or controversial to eat living things, and that's where my understanding fades. Cows produce milk, and not a fixed amount. They need to be milked. But it's wrong to you to drink that milk. Why? Where will it go, then, into the ground? It can't stay in the udder forever. Every living things dies at some point or another. A lot of animals are carnivores. They hunt, or eat other dead animals. Why don't we scold them too, then? And if you don't eat living things, you'd better stay away from plants then. Of course, like all the carnivore animals, there are herbivores grazing on pastures all over the world. The nerve of them! If you're not going to eat a chicken or cow, it's going to die sooner or later anyway, to be left to other animals, or otherwise to the earth, eventually becoming a future fossil fuel. I doubt a ranch hand would prefer a pen consisting of the odd corpse under the cloud of flies and wolves, or the need to move it elsewhere to be scavenged or left to rot. For ethics that go to that extreme, there's a different sense of false superiority: The kind that feels they're better than the meat-eaters out there because they're not prone to such animalistic disgraces, eating animals like animals do. With an attitude like that, you might as well be denying that like all the other sentient, living species on earth, you are an animal just like the rest of them. Perhaps we are evolved enough to be able to make a choice in what we eat unlike other animals who hunt and eat on instinct - but that doesn't give us the eminence to decide we're apart and separate. Like or not, we are part of the animal kingdom, and in all stages of our evolutionary development, meat has been an integral part of our diet. We're advanced, yes - but we should use our big brain to be humane and careful and respectful, to punish those who are cruel to animals but not so self-righteous we're offended at everything we do or eat. We need to respect the natural balance of things, use moderation, and not be involved in any pointless, superficial destruction or upset.

Red Cloud
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