10.4.08

Crossing the Line from Caring to Acting: Have a Little Faith

Today is one of those days when you know, deep inside you, that you're doing something right; it's when you possess that elusive feeling, not just of certainty but approaching faith.

Faith has been severely maligned in our society. I, too, used to define faith as bone-headed blindness. Then I started to experience it. It is not blindness; instead, it would be more accurately compared to serenity or (if I'm not being conceited here - I don't mean to be) the Buddhist concept of Enlightenment. Faith, the emotion, is an astounding ability to feel happy, calm and tranquil and yet still care.

We don't have enough caring in this society. We really don't - many people I know, my mother for one, care about something, but it's on the periphery of their vision: they're usually too busy living their own lives to bother doing something about someone else not being allowed to live theirs. My mother, again using her as an example, once told me that she didn't buy from Tyson (seller of dead birds, for those unaware of the company) because they locked their employees into a slaughterhouse of theirs and they burned and died. I would disagree that this is their biggest (or only) wrongdoing just by weighing the sheer number of lives - chickens vs. humans in quantity, chickens definitely win out - that they've ended, but the point is this: a few days later, I once more found some Tyson bird bodies in the freezer.

It's a matter of habit, I think. Veganism itself is about habit - if you are completely vegan for three days to a week, doing all-vegan shopping during that time, you will succeed at veganism because the hardest part about veganism is breaking the habit of picking up that package of cow flesh - or what have you. Addiction relies on habit: break the habit, and you can more easily break the addiction. And though it is not well-known, animal products are addictive, too. (Just search 'milk casein' for information on that particular addiction.)

Living your conscience is a hard line to walk, even if veganism comes naturally to you, simply because one of the main goals of any ethical vegan is to make others see the logic and ethics of veganism. (Once you do, you cannot really refuse to go vegan. You'd have massive cognitive dissonance from thinking you were a good person and participating in something horrible.) Sometimes, as I know, it's not so much that other people annoy you as it is you don't know how you could live up to your own standards. That's how vegans become vegans in the first place - we have extremely high standards for ourselves: we demand of ourselves that we live an ethical life, even if it's inconvenient at times.

And sometimes, crossing the line from 'caring' to 'acting' can be a little scary. Acting means that you have to do something about it - and aside from the threats of prison and Gitmo in our present environment (at least in the U.S.), acting also means that you have to confront people, face them down, deal with their questions and handle their ridicule. It can all be a bit overwhelming.

This is where faith comes in. Faith, in and of itself, does not do anything but make you feel good and enable you to act. You have to do the acting. You have to be the one to accept that your actions are your own, and no one else is responsible for them - so you also have to be the one to help make things better. I do not believe in the so-called 'Law of Attraction'; as well-produced as it may be, it is essentially wrong in that it claims 'if you think good thoughts, good things will come to you'. No. Every thought changes you - if you think that you are capable of acting and changing the world, you will simply because you feel capable of it. And vice versa - if you think you are incapable, you will remain quiet and shy and not come out of your shell. The same goes for rawists, too.

And this is where it ends. Have a little faith in yourself - you need it.

The world needs it, too.

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