Monday, April 18, 2011

I See You

My boyfriend and I like to debate things. I am not using the word "debate" to mean argue. We really enjoy picking sides on some silly topic and giving it our best shot. It helps us learn new points of views (even though mine are always correct! :) ) and a little more about each other.

The other day we were watching the movie The American where George Clooney was playing an assassin. That brought up the topic of taking human life - heck, taking any life. We were debating the price it would take to get to that point. My boyfriend mentioned he could probably take a life if it meant world peace - sacrificing 1 innocent person in exchange for no more suffering for everyone else on the planet. Then I questioned what if the person he had to kill was his son. He did a 180 saying there was nothing so great that would cause him to do that. His son was worth way more than to ease the suffering for people he had never met.

It got me thinking as to the value of life. Why is it that we view everything so selfishly? A life is a life - it shouldn't have any more or less value based on how close we are to the life in question. A person is not more important to the world just because at some point we sat next to them on a bus and struck up a conversation that lasted 30 years. I am not saying my boyfriend should not have changed his tune, just that it is really interesting how we value someone based on what they are to US, instead of valuing life for the sake of life.

Just to let you in on a secret - this is the exact place most vegans/vegetarians are coming from. It isn't that we are crazy or weird or much different than you. Just that we try to remove ourselves from the equation and appreciate life for what it is rather than what it is to us. For those of you with pet dogs, imagine for a moment eating your dog. Slitting his throat, cooking him up and placing him on a bun, because you "need the protein". I bet at least one of you cringed. Yet someone in China wouldn't hesitate. They see your dog and don't think about how much joy he brought you. They don't consider the times he curled up with you when you were sick, or licked your tears after your last breakup. They choose not to see the obvious intelligence and emotion you have come to know and love in your four legged "kid". They see lunch. To them, it is "just an animal" whose life has no meaning itself, except to feed humans. The only difference between them eating a dog and us eating a cow is societal acceptance. Remove the judgement you grew up with, and it is the exact same underlying scenario. Choosing to sacrifice another life (as long as you don't personally know it!) because of your "needs".

I am not trying to convert anyone here. I just want people to understand where the vegan mentality comes from. People look at us like we are crazy, simply because we choose to step away from our own paradigm of "what does this animal's life mean to me personally" and instead look at "what does life mean in general".

The movie Avatar said it best. When she had to kill an animal that was threatening her, Neytiri knelt beside it as it was dying and said "I see you". She saw its value. She mourned - because even though she was the one that killed it, she recognized it as being just an important as herself. Every being deserves to be seen for what it is, a unique life that brings something to this world. I'm not suggesting you become vegan, but maybe next time you are having a steak or a ham sandwich, just take a moment and think about the animal that gave its life. Maybe send up a quick "thank you" of appreciation, to show you understand a sacrifice has been made. What could it hurt, besides to move you just a tad outside of that selfish paradigm?

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