Posted by tinako on January 29, 2015
Gary Francione with his rescued pound puppies
I’ve been listening to old podcasts by Gary Francione while I clean, and while I don’t agree with everything I’ve read of his, I’ve found an awful lot of sense in these audio commentaries. One of the points he makes is to stop telling people that vegetarianism is morally better than omnivorism.
This has sunk in, and a concrete effect is that when people ask how long I’ve been vegan, I have made a personal choice to stop mentioning when I went vegetarian, which was 15 years earlier. I’ve also removed it from any social website bios. I had been taking credit for that 15 years, but the dairy cows and egg-laying hens are unimpressed, and I no longer want to trumpet it.
I’m vegan. I’ve been vegan since Easter 2008, full stop. Before that I was an omnivore.
Posted in Musings | Tagged: vegan, vegetarian | Leave a Comment »
Posted by tinako on November 24, 2014
A local hunter was accidentally shot in the face on opening day here; I guess he’s going to be OK. Some in our AR community struggled with their feelings following this news; how does it make you feel? After about a week of online comments, I offered the following:
With understanding that it is normal and natural to have many different reactions to this news story, but that we can choose which paths to follow, I wonder if anyone would be interested in my understanding of karma, which others here have been mentioning? If not, click delete. Nothing here is new, just hopefully clarity on a concept that is often muddled with several meanings, and how karma can work for us.
By my understanding: Karma was originally Hindu, and that is the idea most modern people have of karma: divine justice, something (“the universe”) or someone who keeps track and evens the score. The Buddha, who lived in Hindu India, found this unhelpful because it didn’t allow room for change. He understood that even good people may have to suffer for their past harmful actions, but that they would be better off because of the good they were doing now (example: Angulimala) – pertinent to any of us who ever screwed up! Anyway, Buddhist karma can be seen in two lights: One is the ripple effect, that the kind acts or speech or even “vibe/energy” we put out, affects others and has a chance of coming back to us – we are making the world a better place, and that’s the place we live, so it’s better for us. Even if the effect is small, we are not making things worse. I think this is pretty evidently true. The second way Buddhist karma can be understood is that no matter what effect our acts have “out there,” they have done something to us on the way out. For example, loving someone who hates us is better than hating them, because we will be happier filled with love than with hate. I have found this “instant karma” to be true as well, and the effect will probably be huge, life-changing. So you see, Buddhist karma is more like a law of nature than a faith in justice.
Celebrating accidental violence may fill us with a much-needed sense of satisfaction that the scorekeeper is on duty, but how does it impact us under the Buddhist understanding? What do we set into the world when we express gladness at others’ misfortunes (what kind of world are we creating), and what does this Schadenfreude (harm-joy) do to us on the way out?
None of this is to say that a person struggling with feelings of joy is a bad person, just that an understanding of the harm it does to ourselves and others may be useful in letting it go. And we can choose to be glad that the man is not hunting right now, without being glad that it’s because he was hurt.
Posted in AR, Buddhism | Tagged: animal rights, Buddhism, peace, vegan, vegetarian, violence | Leave a Comment »
Posted by tinako on September 15, 2014
I went with my family to see Guardians of the Galaxy Saturday, and spent most of the movie in open-mouthed horror. I would have been warned if I had even glanced at the movie poster before entering, but due to my inattention I had no idea what it was about. So I suppose I deserved what I got.
While I watched, I was reminded of something I once read, “When your young children watch television, it’s like inviting strangers into your home to teach them values.” You should take your kids to see Guardians of the Galaxy if you would like strangers to teach your children that:
- Abusing and killing small animals is funny and cool
- Gambling-induced animal fights are very entertaining
- There’s no problem that can’t be solved with a gun. If you can’t solve a problem, your gun isn’t big enough.
- Prison guards are the bad guys
- If the dialogue isn’t working out, just pile on the bodies. On-screen killings are a great diversion.
- It’s really funny when someone somewhat gentle unexpectedly kills 20 people in an extremely violent way.
- Violence is even better with a cool retro soundtrack.
- We just need to get rid of the “bad guys” and everything will be fine.
Here are the footnotes:
- The hero starts the movie off by kicking small animals out of his way, at full force. I wondered if this would be the horrible “before” person the hero changes from, but while the heroes do grow in that they care for some people, they do not grow less violent.
- There is a dog-fighting equivalent with aliens animals. This is at the point in the movie when the heroes begin to be a little nicer to each other, so I was hoping one of them would show, by even a look, that this was not OK. But no. They eagerly participate.
- If you go see this movie, try to spot the scene without a gun. It is non-stop. At one point, one hero blows away his friend’s sister with a bazooka (literally) when she calls his friend a mean name.
- Our heroes are in prison after they break the law on a peaceful planet. We are supposed to cheer when they kill dozens of guards on their way out.
- I couldn’t believe how gratuitous the violence was. They wouldn’t merely injure someone if they could kill him, and they wouldn’t merely kill one person if they could kill 20. I asked my daughter how many people she saw killed in the movie. She guessed a thousand. I think that would be low if you count the one-man spaceships which are destroyed, but shots where you actually see a person killed, probably several hundred. Alas, their deaths were in vain – they failed to distract from the clunky comic-book dialogue.
- A hero who seems quieter and kinder suddenly impales 10 soldiers and then for a good 10 seconds smashes the implement and their bodies into another dozen or so soldiers, smashing everyone to bits. He then looks back at his friends and smiles at their surprise.
- The soundtrack was all old hits. This was meant to help us relate to this guy as he blew people away.
- The bad guys were completely one-dimensional. Why is it OK for good guys to kill them? Because they’re bad. Why are they bad? Because they’re the bad guys. It’s the Myth of Redemptive Violence. I know, it’s a comic book. But when you put it into a live-action movie, it becomes values. I prefer this one: Wouldn’t it be convenient if we could line up all the bad people on one side, and be rid of them? But the line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man, and who would cut out a piece of his own heart?
It makes me very sad that these are the stories our culture tells itself, these are the values our culture admires.
Posted in Animals, Musings | Tagged: film, values, violence | Leave a Comment »
Posted by tinako on August 19, 2014
The movie Cowspiracy has come out. I was so excited to learn that someone was finally asking these questions – why aren’t environmental organizations talking about livestock’s impact on the environment? It’s such a glaring omission. I supported the filmmakers on Indiegogo, so I received my promised DVD a few days ago. You can look up local screenings at their web site.
The film is very well done, and I think it could have a big impact if it is put before local environmental leaders. Two local vegan/AR organizations I’m in are going to co-host a showing. Don’t miss it, and be sure to recommend it to your “environmentalist meat-eater” friends.
Posted in Environment | Tagged: an inconvenient truth, CO2, cow, dairy, environment, film, food politics, gmo, greenhouse gas, livestock, meat, milk, vegan, vegetarian | Leave a Comment »