Recently, very shortly after I posted my 'Quality of Mercy' blog, there appeared on Facebook the following words of wisdom that were posted by one of my friends.
"Open minded people do not impose their beliefs on others. They just accept all of life's perspectives and realities, doing their own thing in peace without judgement."
I'm pretty sure it was a direct reference to my blog, which could certainly be classified as judgemental. If you haven't read it, it exhorts the individual to look at how wrong it is to eat meat. It personalises it by asking the reader if they are comfortable with their passive responsibility for endless slaughter, and reminds them that they are complicit as the end consumer.
So this subsequent posting by my friend sounds like pretty good logic doesn't it? There is certainly an appeal about the platitudes offered by this piece of quasi-zen, pseudo wisdom. It's espousing a laudable 'live and let live' philosophy. And you can seldom go wrong preaching tolerance.
Or can you?
What's behind this phrase is a glib seeming broad-mindedness that actually masks a 'live and let die' philosophy. The words are a trap in which lurks a comfy non-interventionist excusability that merely serves to legitimise victimology, and an ostensibly sound viewpoint that would allow us all to take no responsibility for the collective role humanity must surely have for what goes on in our world. It's logic is fundamentally flawed, and it's message a dangerous one. Can you see it?
Here was my response.
"Being open minded does not mean being blind to the horrors of the world. To merely accept all of life's perspectives and realities can be to condone acts of terror and rank injustices. If we leave everyone in peace to do their own thing without judgement, the evils of the world can run away with us. Highlighting suffering and the individual's role in it is a form of accountability. We are all subject to influences and we all become creatures of habit. However, we never become powerless to do something about it. And seeking to influence others may be the only thing we can do."
I'm not sure if the quasi-zen posting friend would have understood this; they never replied. If they were taken in by such vacuous wisdom in the first place, maybe it's because they were looking for a reason to disown their societal obligations. Or maybe they just don't feel there is a need to be considerate of other sentient beings. Or maybe they're just devoid of compassion.
Then the other evening I read a posting by a lady who had argued with a friend over her stance on being vegan. This is what she wrote:
"I lost a friend after he told me "Sorry, but my palate is for me more important than the animals. My answer was "Well the animals are more important for me than you. ADIOS."
Needless to say, I admire and applaud her decision. I think it shows great courage and integrity to place her principles above her friendship. Nonetheless, I can well imagine others would just think her foolish for so easily dismissing a friendship. But irrespective of our relationship with somebody, how far should we go in accepting attitudes that are abhorrent to us?
And there we are, back to that tolerance thing again.
Is it not our duty to take a stand on issues so as to help others to become enlightened and at least make them aware of their culpability in society's ills? Or should we just let things be swept under the carpet and pretend it's not happening because that's what's convenient for us?
It's quite clear what my beliefs are about this one, but it's easy for me because all I ever have to do is relate what a great big archangel says people need to be concerned about. I have no compunction in telling it as the etheric see it. Perhaps you don't feel strongly enough about this particular issue to do the same as this lady did, or perhaps you just don't want to make people feel bad? That's fair enough, but I'll leave you with this sobering thought.
If you're not part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.