Somewhere in Southern India on the way to the slaughterhouse...
"Everything is a story. What is there but stories? Stories are the only truth." - Christopher Moore.
In his memorable opus, "Why the West Rules - For Now: The Patterns of History and What They...," Ian Morris contends that the existential question of our times is whether we, as a global civilization, evolve towards utopia or careen towards oblivion. If Winston Churchill was correct when he said, "The farther backward you look, the farther forward you are likely to see," then Ian Morris's assessment has to be taken seriously. He's a historian and archaeologist, with a chaired position as Professor of Classics and Professor of History at Stanford University and his grasp of history is unparalleled. He has also looked way, way back.
I met another man last week in Flagstaff, AZ, who has also looked way, way back. He is a Native American of the Gila tribe and he seems to have imbibed the wisdom of his ancestors. His diagnosis of our global industrial civilization is that humans are way out of balance and that the pressing issue of our time is to transition from Imbalance to Balance. When asked to elaborate further, he said that our current civilization is mainly about the Domination of Nature and the transition needed is towards Dancing with Nature. The necessary shift towards balance is from violence to caring, from the Assertion of the Masculine towards the Ascendance of the Feminine.
This shift towards "utopia" is occurring all around us - for the universe abhors oblivion - but the shift is accompanied by a stark polarization that makes it difficult to see. We have all been appalled by the horror story of the three women who suffered a decade long imprisonment in ropes and chains while they were abused by their captor in Cleveland, OH. Ariel Castro's stark assertion of his masculine power is abhorrent and ugly. I am equally appalled by the photo of supposedly sacred cows trussed up on a cart on their way to slaughter and dismemberment in India. The Domination of Nature (animals) depicted in that photo and in the various images coming out of the animal agriculture industry is also abhorrent and ugly. Since these ugly events get all the attention of the mainstream press, we're left with the impression that the world is turning uglier and uglier, that oblivion looms ahead while utopia, which I imagine as a beautiful world without prejudice, recedes away.
But that mainstream story is not aligned with reality. The reality is that our world is also becoming more and more compassionate and understanding. For instance, our LGBT brethren are able to live more freely in many parts of the world. Though institutional discrimination, such as racism, sexism, casteism and bigotry, seems entrenched, its practitioners are operating mainly in the dark, on the sly and under covers. And veganism, which is the embodiment of engaged, universal compassion, is very much on the ascendance. Five years ago, when I resolved to consciously eliminate all animal products from my life, I found it difficult - though not impossible - to sustain on occasion. But nowadays, I'm amazed at the plethora of plant-based choices available to me at every turn. This is not because a gazillion people have gone vegan over the past five years, but because a gazillion people in the mainstream are making compassionate choices frequently. And that tsunami of change in consumer preferences is beginning to hurt the animal exploitation industry, which is desperately trying to put a lid on the mass rebellion by sponsoring Ag Gag laws. I welcome such desperation.
The evolution towards utopia is a process and the adoption of a plant-based diet is but a significant milestone in that process. I wholeheartedly welcome these so-called "flexitarians" among us, and I pledge to do everything in my power to smooth their pathways towards veganism during their individual journeys. For all of us must do everything in our power to promote this evolution towards utopia and minimize choices that careen us all towards oblivion.
For "we are all in this together" is not just a cliche, but reality.