Today in a conversation, I found myself commenting that I would be unable to do something (it was drawing actually) ‘if my life depended on it’.
Some time later, it occurred to me just what a careless, throw-away term that was for me to have used. It was meaningless. I suddenly realised that I had no concept of doing something, or indeed not doing something, as ‘if my life depended on it’. In my life as a member of the dominant species on the planet, and a relatively privileged member at that, there are very few actions that I would consider taking or not taking that would automatically result in my life being forfeit. I have no experience of living under the weight of a death sentence imposed on me by another sentient individual.
I found myself reflecting on how this phrase about life depending on actions, applies to the victims of the brutal and violent species to which I belong.
I found myself thinking of the countless billions who have been caused to exist by human contrivance and manipulation of their reproductive processes, who have been, who are being and who will be hurt and harmed by the routine violence that all our use of their lives entails. For every single unique and special individual of these countless billions, their moment of conception is the beginning of their death sentence.
I found myself considering as I do every single day, those billions of gentle and innocent individuals whose pitiful existence of relentless use will end as their dying screams and whimpers gurgle with their bright lifeblood through their gashed throats this year, and next year, and the year after that until the world wakes up.
I found myself sickened by my words, by the careless way so many of us talk of life and death, saying phrases like ‘as if my life depended on it’ and laughing, secure in the knowledge that for us there is no danger, using these hugely significant words so casually, so thoughtlessly and so carelessly until they have no meaning.
And finally I had to remind myself that this is why I advocate veganism. This is why I call for the end of the culture of violence in which we are all complicit when we are not vegan. I do not promote a reduction of harm, or harm in a different environment, or harm on fewer days of the week because all of these things are still harm and they all twist the truth to serve our own convenience. They all make it about us, so we may bask in the self-congratulatory glow of feigned concern while continuing to ignore or justify to ourselves the harm that we demand as consumers.
Because for our victims, our advocacy is the one thing that really does have lives depending on it. We cannot save all those who are in the harm system, but by being clear, consistent and unequivocal in our call for our species wake up to the consequences of their needless actions, we can urge others to reject their participation in the violence and horror that constitute all use of our helpless and vulnerable victims. We can stop contributing to the nightmare by becoming vegan and urging others to join us. By being vegan, we can reduce the demand for harm in the days and years to come.
Lives ARE depending on that. Let’s make the words mean something real. Be vegan.