Being Vegan – Let’s Stop Where it Starts
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
“Until about (the) third birthday, loving animals is natural to us. When one day a piece of meat lands on our plate, we don’t know where it came from. We learn it is a piece of veal, beef, nugget or pork (all abstract words). ‘Does it mean that an animal has been killed?’ we ask. In response, we hear that while chicken, calf or piggy have been killed, these were some other animals, not ones we love. And so the very first lesson of double morality is learned, which then helps us start wars, and kill those we do not know.” These are the words of Wojeciech Eichelberger, a psychotherapist from Warsaw, a pioneer in the field of integral psychotherapy, and a well-known commentator and advocate of ecology. I think he strikes upon something profound here and something to consider as to why and how we inherit some of the views that we hold.
I believe that children are born with a pure heart…one that is totally open to give love and to receive it. The average child has not only a great fascination for animals, but also a great love and natural ability to care for them as well. I believe this is completely natural and what they come into this world with. This may not ever change for some of them as they grow, but only because those natural thoughts and feelings are nurtured within and around them. We know that it does change in so many others and that is where we as a society have to take some responsibility. It is during this process of growing as a child, according to Don Miguel Ruiz in the “Four Agreements,” that we begin to have the stories and histories of others put upon us, often influencing the way we feel and act and begin to change the natural tendencies that we possess. When we come to learn this “double morality” as Eichelberger states, we see that it is somehow okay to kill the animals that we don’t know and have a relationship with. What else could that possibly lead to?
If we somehow learn that it is okay to somehow see harm come to a living creature that we are not close to or associated with, then could it be possible that we can begin to transfer some of those thoughts towards humans who perhaps are different than us, outside our circle acquaintance, or just those that we somehow deem inferior than us? Is it natural for a child to bully and hurt another, or to gossip against or make fun of someone else and often cause great harm? For those of you that would say that is natural and a part of growing up, I would like to strongly disagree with you. I believe that it is something that we as parents and as a society allow to develop, and sometimes, albeit unknowingly, encourage. Because so many adults have not made the connection between what we eat and how we live and the impact that has upon other humans, animals and the planet that we live upon…how can they possibly convey this properly to a child?
I am not about telling someone how to raise their children…but I hope that we can all think about how we contribute to this as a society. Children are raised by their families, but they are also raised by the village, which we are a part of. Perhaps a child cannot fully grasp things completely at a particular point in their lives, but if it were explained to them where meat, and for that matter dairy, comes from and what happens to the animals in the entire process, I would venture to say that the majority of them would opt out of participating in any way in that process because it is going against what feel naturals to them in their lives. How can you be anything less than kind and kill that which you have a love and care for? We sometimes lose some very, very important things as we grow up and why it is necessary in life to return to some of those basic feelings that we came into this world with. The world could change in a generation if we allowed children to go with their natural instincts towards animals.
Yet for this to happen with our children, it first has to begin with us. We have to unlearn some what we have been taught and throw off some of “the stories” that have been put upon us. We need to model, live and teach respect for all living creatures. We are not better than them and their lives are not ours to take. We need to respect all life, no matter if we personally are connected to that life or not. Anthony Douglas Williams said, “No other animal on earth has portrayed such a disregard for life than mankind.” We also need to evolve past the point where we somehow think that the life of one of our own citizens is somehow more important than that of someone living in another country different than ours, because that kind of thinking is an act of violence in and of itself. Where do we draw the line to where we disregard life that is not known to us or different than our own? I believe that begins when someone is very young. We can do a better job of nurturing what is already so natural to them. We also, as is the case in so many other ways, need to learn from the children. We have lost that innocence and the world and its inhabitants are paying too great a price for it. Grab ahold of that innocence once again and let us change this world in which we live. It starts with us.
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 email@example.com or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul’s upcoming book, “Eating Vegan in Vegas” will be published by Sullivan Street Press and for more information please go to www.sullivanstpress.com.