I think when you care about animals rights, you get so angry and seem so militant simply because it seems like the people around you are seeing the same madness and don’t care. This is internally provocative.
When you see the people you love putting pieces of a creature in their mouth that felt and suffered and knew it’s own existence from start to finish, or are wearing fur despite that mink having it’s feet cut off and being electrocuted etc…it is hard to imagine that the hands that touch you in such kindness can engage in the madness with the same hands.
The fractured duality of loving people who exploit animals is a bit torturous at times. And days like Melbourne cup day bring it home, but I have realised: they by and large don’t see.
They hide it in their feed. They turn away. They justify it and call it ‘nature’, ignoring the cages and man-made restraints and domestication. Meat – we were meant to eat it, right? They say it is ‘personal choice’ without explaining what that means. They get hostile if you probe and ask and challenge.
And some just are callous and hard and do not care. They can look at a picture of a cow bleeding out, hear the sounds of it gurgling in blood, having bucked from death in fear and feeling, without any internal disturbance. Or enough to stop them eating that steak, but not enough to stop them from eating the next one. They do not care about the suffering of non-human folk.
That’s truly the hardest part of living in a non-vegan world: the bit where you are forced to swallow apathy and say “sure, ok” when what you mean is “I don’t understand how you can do this to them. You are diminished in my eyes because you do.”
Pretty much nobody likes that kind of honesty, so you shut your mouth so you can keep the love you have, because conversely – nobody likes to be alone, do they?
I’ve never kept it a secret that I regard people who maintain and work towards a life consistent with an animal rights position with greater comfort, heart and feeling. Just as I still love and value the racist friend, I will never feel as at ease with them as I do with those who share my values. Their values are not equal to my own; I do not think all values are created equal.
To pretend otherwise is disingenuous. I value honesty above all, even if there is pain in saying “of course I would respect you more if you changed X behaviour”. It is a necessary pain.
So on this day of forcing animals to compete with each other, of projecting our silly human traits onto them, of supporting the cruelties of horse racing, injury and death, I hope it is no surprise to you that the people in your life who care about animals are feeling a bit sad about where they stand with you.
I hope next year, you do differently. I believe you can because other than this: you are wonderful.