A time to rend , and a time to sew ; a time to keep silence , and a time to speak ~ Ecclesiastes 3:7
Lately I have had nothing to say. I find it quite quizzical because I have long lists of articles and podcasts I want to create but right now, nothing seems to issue from these ideas. It all seems to have been said before, said in better ways or more clever ways than I could. I have come to the conclusion that maybe it is time to just listen for awhile, so I am doing that. I am listening to the outrage at a woman depositing a cat in a trash receptacle on the side of the street, while these same people participate in the global commodification of animals. I am listening to the animal protection organizations as they partner in exploitation with animal agribusiness. I listen to those who find veganism disturbing and challenge it at every turn. I listen to the leaders of abolitionism as they point out the various ways our conflicted mental processes twist us into rationalization after rationalization.
One thing good about listening is that it gives one an opportunity to learn. I began noticing that there is a difference between meeting someone where they are and actually becoming where they are. For example, there has been a movement in the welfare community to spread vegetarianism rather than veganism because it is more appealing to more people. While it is very important to acknowledge where someone is with respect to potential for change, it is fundamentally wrong to join them. In fact, recent Google statistics show that “vegan” is outstripping “vegetarian” in searches, a very healthy sign. If advocates for animals so quickly relinquish the moral baseline of veganism, though, it is doubtful that anyone will move towards it. And that is unfair to the animals.
Nonsensical, Outrageous and Hopeful
So right now I am listening, listening to the nonsensical (Lady GaGa dressed in a “meat” bikini of dead, tormented flesh), the outrageous (George Monbiot promoting so called “happy meat”), and the hopeful (abolitionist veganism gaining momentum). I see the wonderful videos Eric Prescott has developed (“I am Vegan”) and sadly witnessed the end of another abolitionist vegan podcast (goodbye, Coexisting with Nonhuman Animals) — as usual, joy and grief intermingled with hope and determination. It is all part of being an advocate for nonhuman animals.
Listening is actually a class of study in many schools of psychotherapy; it was in mine. Active listening is tremendously important for vegans and animal rights advocates, because if we chastise people for not being where we are, we might not listen to what they are saying. We need to understand their perceptions and feelings in order to educate them and help them see the truth. Commodification of animal life is culturally normative right now, although there is every evidence that this is changing. We must never demand that those who are speciesist in orientation join us where we are, but we must educate them and invite them in a way they can accept. We must be a voice for the animals. Listening has brought me many lessons this year, some painful, some joyful. It has helped me find some great bloggers and podcasters; it has forced me to raise the bar on my own self expectations; it has left me disappointed in myself and others. So right now, it is a time to rend. I should be back to sewing (and speaking) again very soon!