It is a seemingly inevitable feature of my attempts to persuade people of the value of personal veganism, that I reach a point where my efforts are confronted (and often dashed) by an absence of ability to create a sufficiently powerful motivation in my audience to bring about change. Indeed, this is a phenomenon I have discussed in previous blogs (albeit from a slightly different perspective), where the potential of differing influencing strategies has been explored. Today, something struck me about my preferred ‘hardcore’ methodology of ‘telling it like it is’. It may be uncomfortable, distressing and downright off-putting for people to hear truths about their carnatarian living, but to have its implications explained in any other way, is a shameful act of concealing harsh realities that cost lives. I am put in mind of the attitude of the European population during WWII. From 1942 onwards, there were frequent, verifiable reports of man’s inhumanity to man, that filtered their way to the Allied powers. The existence of extermination camps was known and whispered of in the corridors of Government. Yet it was not until the first of these hell holes were liberated, and photographs of barely alive, skeletal human forms, and deeply distressing images of rotting corpses in mass graves were published, for all to see, that it became ‘real’. The population en mass was finally forced to accept the horrors of what had come to pass, and righteous outrage followed. Just like the Nazi death camps, slaughterhouses try to keep their activities a closely guarded secret. Nonetheless, we all know what goes on there. The dairy industry tries to fool us with images of smiling bovines, allowing us to pretend to be (happily) ignorant of the vile practices that lurk within. Most of us will never have to watch a fish gasping desperately for breath or writhing in agony before its lungs explode, yet we must know that their ending is not a pleasant one. Bees are drugged by smoke, and countless numbers are ‘squished’ by industrial collecting methods, before the honey they have made to feed themselves on is stolen from them, and still we allow ourselves to believe that they make it just for us. I could go on... The difference between one of our darkest historical eras and now, is, perhaps, that we actively choose not to see, and we make that choice with impunity. Most of humanity could/would not concede that animal lives are as significant as our human ones. Thus, the theriocide that so closely parallels (yet vastly eclipses) the terrible genocide of the Nazi’s moment in history, never meets with disapprobation, let alone the revulsion or distress that it actually warrants. Yet were we to see it, were we to even get a glimpse of the horrors that are carried out with our tacit approval, I wonder how many of us would not feel the same heartbreaking level of pity for those rankly abused and mistreated beings, that we can still feel for concentration camp victims? If you are a vegan, you might have made that life-changing choice without even seeing the nightmare world that we have created for animals. You might be one of those who believes that, like you, your fellow human beings will change as a result of natural progression resulting in an abandonment of lifelong habits. But my take is this. Habits die hard, particularly those based upon selfish self-interest. We don’t change quickly. Our ignorance is a comforting bliss. We need emotional imperative to prompt major change. Imagery obviously affects us powerfully and can shake us out of complacency and create that imperative. If we as individuals are forced to confront our own carelessness to the suffering that we are passively endorsing, we are more likely to do something about it. We are more likely to change. As vegans, we should not shrink from revealing the awful truths that are all around us. Indeed, it may be our duty to do so. There are things we all need to see.
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