Today I was motivated to write a short blog on passing a roadside advert that has stood for many years, directing shoppers to a butcher in a nearby village. Bragging about ‘100% Scottish beef’ and ‘award winning pies and sausages, it’s a true life counterpoint to the many ridiculous accusations levelled at vegans for ‘shoving your ideas down other people throats’, accusations by those who shove other individuals down their throats and don’t like it being pointed out that their brutalised victims were not in any way willing.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise to hear that blogging and writing about animal rights is not a cheerful occupation. For me, it requires objectivity, honesty, and continuous self-evaluation, seeking the most effective way to get the message across that there is nothing special about our species that entitles us to lay waste to our fellow creatures and the living world they share with us. Even on a good day, it’s a battle to keep despair at bay.
What was it about today?
Today as my journey took me past the fields of sheep and cattle, the date of whose blood drenched fate was decided and booked into a slaughterhouse long before the violence that conceived them, I averted my eyes as always, and found tears streaming down my face. Tears for them as always, because I know what awaits them and it’s far, far, worse than the bleak existence without shelter from the Scottish weather that has been their miserable lot so far. Today there were tears for my own species.
And today there were tears for my children. Page followers will know that my younger son died suddenly last year, leaving his brother and me with a raw hole in our lives that can never heal. No mother should find herself speaking a eulogy for her son. But similarly, no parent should have to contemplate the nightmare that will be faced by any of their children who someday will be left without them, as they struggle against unimaginable adversity on the set of this disaster movie that we’re all trapped in.
As I passed the butcher’s sign and the doomed victims in the desolate fields, I reflected on the flurry of reports and editorials being published, in particular the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, amidst the infernos and the floods, the record temperatures and the evacuations, the droughts and the famines. I am forced to admit there is no evidence of superior intelligence being demonstrated by my species where the majority appear to be pointing metaphorical fingers at someone else; other people, other nations, other corporations, other governments, always OTHERS as a means to excuse their personal continued apathy and ‘business as usual’ approach to sticking their individual and collective heads in the sand.
We are assured by the most reliable scientific evidence available that even if every activity that’s releasing carbon into our atmosphere were to cease right now this minute, it is already too late to prevent increasing instability of the global climate reaching well into the future. An intelligent species would have woken up to smell the coffee long ago.
Business as usual. Carry on. Nothing to see here.
The problem? Well the problem is that everywhere I look, I see ‘business as usual’; adverts for dead flesh, adverts for eggs, adverts for dairy products; adverts for holidays abroad and cruises and cars. Even adverts, editorials, and opinion pieces calling for lukewarm watered-down half-measures that speak of how ‘future generations’ will look back on the events of the present day are an exercise in outright dishonesty. Lukewarm watered-down half measures mean that there may not even BE future generations of our species left to reflect on our failings. Those who remain will be battling a world where the challenges are exponentially worse than today – they won’t be sitting musing about who to blame at their computers – a pastime that is still available for some of us. They’ll be trying to find shelter and heat and food in a place that isn’t flooded or burnt. That’s the reality.
As usual, animal agriculture, which alongside fossil fuels is one of the main culprits for the catastrophe that is crashing down over us all, is still preaching their message of denial, and individual consumers are so busy blaming someone else that far too few are squaring up to the moral obligation to take personal responsibility for the activities that got us here in the first place by stopping paying for them to continue.
Are we too late?
I couldn’t begin to list every violation, every atrocity, every affront to decency that surrounds us and is contributing to the plight of our host planet and those who call it home. We all need to think for ourselves – we all need to face our own eyes when we look in a mirror. We have to acknowledge the very real likelihood that we won’t be able to save the world but I suppose it comes down to the kind of person that each of us is. Do we give in under pressure or do we decide to keep on trying and go down fighting if we must?
The world we are destroying belongs to our victims every bit as much as it ever belonged to us. As we saw off the branch our species is sitting on, we must remember that our victims are sitting alongside us, helpless passengers on our journey to ruin.
Is it too late to make a difference? I’ll admit it probably is. I’ve had some tell me that they think it’s all over so what’s the point of doing anything at all? I’ve heard it said that the world would be better off without humans – a speciesist viewpoint if ever there was one. We are animals too. And besides, we’re talking about events that affect all Earth’s inhabitants. Not just humans. I find it ironic that the moment apathy starts to crack, we find defeatism close on its heels. But never before has the conversation in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings seemed so apt:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time.”
“And so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
What is everything in the world worth to you?
Whatever the future holds, this truly is the fight of our lives. As individuals we can do nothing less than live true to the values we believe in, respecting and valuing each other, our families and our friends of all species. Holding these values means that as an absolute minimum we must stop being nonvegan.
Then at least we can meet our own eyes in the mirror and know that we’re doing our best for as long as we possibly can because we have everything in the world to fight for. I hope to find the strength to do that. Do you?