Being Vegan – Can We Be A Little Less Critical?
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
I heard someone remark recently that “it seems like we live in a nation of critics.” As I think about it, I would tend to agree that it seems to be a lot easier for some to flow towards criticism and negativity. As wonderful as the Internet and social media is for staying in touch with people, connecting with new ones, and dispensing and receiving information that is not often found through the mainstream media…it can also be a huge forum for people to trash this, that and everything. Is that their right to do so? In this country we have that right until it becomes slanderous, libelous, a hate crime, or brings injury to another. I understand that is a fine line and often a subject of great debate. I would hope that most people would have enough common sense and decency to know where that line is. My question is whether or not this is the best use of our time and energies to do so and can we be better than that? Can we lift ourselves out of the mire of conflict and negativity to one that will improve our world?
Great minds have always taught us that we should always question things and this was not only a great way to learn but also uncover great truth. Not always just accept what is given to us or do it because it has always been done that way. Many things that we know and accept today were at one time perhaps scoffed at and believed to be untrue or not possible. Someone along the line did not accept the norm at the time and kept working and pressing and discovering. They did not just sit back and scoff and be critical and do nothing more, but they put their energies into something positive that would hopefully bring about positive results and a change. They took some actions beyond their words and things changed. I believe in “critical thinking.” This is different than perhaps just being critical about something because it does not line up with your beliefs or life experience. Critical thinking is looking at something from a vantage point other than you own and to try and understand it as thoroughly and judiciously as possible. It is actually a positive process, not a negative one.
For too many others it is just easy to sit back and look at someone or something and put forth your judgment upon them. It seems like some people seem to really revel in this. Some have an ax to grind. Some are just trying to put forth a point and it just seems to get really negative. Sometimes they communicate anger, use profanity, and put forth things that are very hurtful. This puts others on the defensive and alienates many others. Too often any good point is lost in the emotion and hurt of the moment. A good discussion can go downhill quickly when criticism of another’s viewpoint becomes personal. I realize we should all live at the point encouraged by The Four Agreements, one of which is to not take things personally. That would be ideal, but I realize that not everyone is there. What I witness regularly on lifestyle debates, religion, and politics is very disturbing. Some of what was spewed forth during this last election process was very disheartening. My feeling is that if you can’t make a point without making something a personal attack or without using profanity then you need a better point.
Everyone can be a critic these days and rate almost anything. We have set up a part of our Internet culture to facilitate this. Is is good for people to give their opinion? For the most part yes…freedom of speech and opinion. I just don’t think people should be allowed to be given stars to rate things because there is no common base point or criteria for doing so and it becomes very, very subjective. Some of these companies have flawed business models but have become wildly successful despite weighing more heavily towards the negative comments and reviews than the positive ones. That is just wrong and can actually be very hurtful towards many individuals and businesses. I see this all the time with food and restaurants because it is a part of what I do. I am not a food critic, I am a food encourager. There are professional critics in many fields whose job it is to understand that industry and all of the components of it and give a review accordingly. It may or may not be positive. We may not always agree with it but we respect it and take it all into consideration. For centuries people weighed the recommendations of people that they actually knew and trusted along with their own personal experience to make a decision on almost anything. I have often found through my own first-hand experience to be much different than what was put forth by the amateur as well as professional critics. We need to trust our intuition more.
I hope that we can continue to put things out there for discussion. Let’s keep it positive and let us be kind in doing so. Let’s do our homework and let us realize that there are some people positive things that may be outside of what we like or understand but it may not be a matter of right or wrong…it is just different. It is not our place to pass judgment. Little good ever comes of that. It can’t just stop with our words…we need to put forth what be believe into positive action that will make a difference for ourselves, our families, for all living creatures, and for the planet. Words are necessary, but let us use them for weapons for the good to educate, enlighten, encourage, and empower others towards good works and bring forth change. We need move towards conscious living and eating. This makes a tangible difference in our world. It is time to get out and make it happen…flip the switch from negative to positive…and turn good words into even better actions.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.