We need only take a quick glance back through human history, watch any cable news network, tune into a reality TV show or read a few blogs and what becomes obvious are the ideas which divide people from one another will eventually unite them all...... in anger.
More than ever people today seem so angry, so ready to fight with one another, even when they're on the same team. Even when they share the same ideals and goals.
What is behind all of this anger? Why is there so much rage flying around everywhere?
Even in the vegan, animal rights community as well…people are so quick to attack, denounce and defame each other that it’s really quite troubling.
However, rather than focus on the obvious defects that make the species homo sapien so impossible to live with we can choose to investigate what may be at the roots of our anger in a deeper context.
We live in a very apprehensive time. On some days you can almost hear the ticking from the bombs of peoples hostility. You can read it in their eyes and detect it from the lines on their faces. Our world is simply burning up with bad tempers and free range...rage.
Anger is what people do with their fear.
It's much easier to react with anger than to admit we're afraid.
It appears that even in the insightful, mindful, compassionate, and empathy driven community of animal rights advocates it's so easy for us to translate our fears immediately into anger at one another.
Our situation is this: most of the people in the world are afraid of what they can not control.
What frightens most of us is when we lose the ability to control what happens with the most important issues and aspects of our lives. We are a species who become nearly phobic when we lose control or even the illusion of control.
It may even partially explain one of the core reasons many people want nothing to do with living vegan or gaining knowledge about animal rights issues. It might not be that they don't care, but rather they're afraid. Afraid of becoming burdened with the knowledge of so much suffering and death caused by the hands (and mouths) of other humans.
Afraid they are taking on something they cannot control.
This might also be the source of so much of the anger present among many like minded, caring, ethical vegans directed at other vegans.
The intensity of feeling and knowing there is so much at stake and no way to control or put an end to it.
Fear comes to us and is born from perceiving a danger which seen or unseen waits right around the corner. For the masses of non human life on this planet the world is without a doubt a horribly dangerous place and the small minority of humans who have a deep empathy for animals can be overwhelmed by it all. Our awareness of what happens to animals on fur farms, in research facilities or in slaughterhouses can generate an incredible sense of fear as well as a devastating anger in each of us.
There is already so much unconscious fear for most of us wrapped up in the knowledge of our own inevitable/personal deaths that it would not be the theory of some delusional mad man to suggest that for animal rights advocates there is an extra anxiety and fear caused by our awareness from so much animal misery and death. We often feel helpless because it all feels so beyond our control to do anything.
Yet we owe it to the animals of the world, the people in our lives and of course ourselves to drop the aggressiveness toward one another and attempt to be kind and remain calm. We need to be able to find those openings where understanding, empathy and cooperation can squeeze through so that we can move forward together.
It is neither in defeating each other nor in beating each other up; but through cooperation and experiencing unity where we will be able to reach our goals and achieve real victories for non humans.
Part of the solution might be in letting go of our anger at one another and looking for ways we can find solidarity.
One of the pleas we ethical vegans often make to other humans, who wrongly believe it does not matter what pain or death may be inflicted on other sentient beings, is that we humans are much more similar to non humans than we are different. Why do we forget that bright pearl of wisdom when it comes to other humans who are actually vegan for ethical reasons like we are? We have so much more in common than we have in disparity. Yet, most of the time we fail to notice our hypocritical reactions and irrational behavior regarding this point.
We're so few in numbers and so far between that it remains quite critical for us to unite rather than fight.... each other.
None of the ideas above reflect the notion that we cannot have minor or major disagreements with what might seem the best approach for achieving non human animal's rights. Nor does letting go of anger at one another mean that we should also refrain from critiquing tactics which many of us may view as producing more harm to the cause than good.
However, dropping the anger means ending the personal attacks, threats and non stop drama which seems to have become more important than saving animals lives or in educating other people about becoming vegan.
We all need to put an end to our having to be right all the time in our arguments about animal rights or in proving other vegans wrong in their ways. It's about time that we also recognize how foolish we sound when we claim we are better, bigger and bolder vegans than someone else.
We are the only voice the animals have and we are wasting it on overly dramatic, dysfunctional and useless infighting.
When we self destruct everyone loses.
If we can possibly acknowledge and wake up to the understanding that the majority of anger which is directed towards one another is merely based on our fear of what horrendous and unnecessary atrocities are being committed against animals by other humans. We all share this stress and hardship. Maybe we can attempt to be kinder and more accepting of one another. Maybe we can all learn to live together more successfully as we all live with the same thorn in our sides.
As cliche and overused as any quote might sound....
Animal rights advocates need to be the change we want to see in the world.
It's time we recognize that what allows humans to cooperate with one another is the ability to get past the tiny differences and to find those greater, more extensive similarities and to build and work from there.
There is of course no guarantee that even the most reasonable and like minded people are going to agree about everything. However, allowing fear and anger to control our interactions with one another and let it hold influence on the long struggle ahead for animal rights is certainly unreasonable.
We ethical vegans are an open minded creative group and we can surely devise better solutions for resolving conflicts than we have been of late.
The reality is that if we wish to transform our culture into one that views animals as persons whose lives deserve equal respect we need to learn to make the best use of our time spent interacting with one another.
We need to learn to be calm, cool and collective, so to speak, if we wish to have any influence on the speciesist attitudes of our fellow human beings.
Veganism is a compassionate and rational enterprise. Speciesism is not.
Living vegan is so much about empathy and the ability to feel what another being feels, and in it's more cultivated form the capacity to deeply understand another's point of view.
Dropping our anger at one another may seem low on the to do list of vegan activities, yet as proved time and again with our consideration regarding the importance of non human lives, the power of kindness is eventually what makes all the difference in the world.
Don't be vegangry...
Be a sanctuary for others.
listen here Why Can't We Live Together?