April 12, 2007

My own pin-hole camera on the world

Posted in art, happiness, stupid me, vegan at 1:55 pm by nevavegan

It has come to my attention that a link to my blog was posted on a list of commentaries about the Marcus/Francione debate podcast. This was sort of an “uh oh” moment for me. I didn’t try to editorialize the entire debate because it seemed to me that many other people had done that sufficiently elsewhere. For what it’s worth I felt the Erik Marcus was ill-prepared for the debate, failed to respond to most of Gary Francione’s points, and I was shocked that Marcus admitted that he didn’t read Francione’s books because he “disagreed with them.” But those points were all made in many other blogs and forums, and made pretty well.

My two blog entries were just fairly personal comments regarding just one comment Gary Francione made and my response to that comment.

I sometimes think it’s relevant though in the way that for me the personal is always relevant. I think it’s worthwhile to consider how our words (not just our intentions) affect others. But sometimes I wonder if I have anything to say worth saying.

I get these days of intense self doubt sometimes. I don’t post because I don’t trust my own voice. I become so aware that I’m only seeing the world through this tiny little pin-hole of my own perception. Suddenly everything seems so much bigger than I am. I wonder if I’m even entitled to speak up.

It helps in times like these to remember that while life is tenuous, it is also forgiving. I have every right to make a complete idiot out of myself if so choose. I don’t have to be perfect every second.

The topic on the survivors forum this week was flaws: how our abusers used pointing out our flaws (real or imagined) to control or subdue us. Essentially to convince us we had no right to our own voices.

But everyone has a right to their voice. You don’t have to be clever. I hope you will be kind, but it’s actually not required, as evidenced all around us.

Now, of course you knew I’d eventually bring this back to veganism, right?

People who don’t want to hear about veganism use fault-finding as excuse to not listen, in fact to shut us down and shut out our voices. There is the nit-picking over and over on certain facts. The afore-mentioned “I knew a rude vegan” tactic, or accusing us of attacking tradition. How many times has someone accused me of not doing enough for human issues when I say I’m vegan?

But I don’t have to be right about everything, that’s the fallacy. I can be wrong about nearly everything; I can be offensive, I can be stupid, and I can still be right about veganism being the best way to try to live in this world of ours.

When someone disputes the total number of animals slaughtered in the US, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a dizzyingly large, completely incomprehensible number. Wondering if the diet of cavemen was really primarily meat doesn’t change the situation we face today.

I don’t think I’m so good with theory or philosophy. Maybe my brain just doesn’t bend that way. I tend to think in practicalities; which for me is different from utilitarianism. I’m not following the teachings of Singer. I just want to take things apart, figure out how they work, and then make them work better.

When I talk about the limits of my own perspective, there is the undercurrent where I’m always pushing for decent research. Because research could presumably help all of us get around the issue of putting too much emphasis on our personal experience. This means finding out what kinds of outreach on veganism get the most favorable results. What messages resonate with the public, what gets people thinking and more importantly acting?

Until I have the research in hand, I’m forced to just weigh stuff in my own head, against my own experience. It’s what everyone does, but of course it’s limiting.

I’m dismayed by so much I see around me, and I try to think of what I have to offer in response to it. So much of my life has been filled with people telling me I’m not good enough. That’s my fear, the thing that keeps me quiet so much of the time. Maybe I’m just a moron spouting off things that make no sense. Maybe I am just hopelessly self-indulgent and self-centered. I try to remind myself that the world is full of idiots, so maybe there isn’t that much harm in my being my own special brand of idiot.

So what do I offer up? I offer up that I’m a flawed person coming from a flawed place with a messed up background, and I’m still a vegan and I do ok with that. I offer up that I’ve been through some things and some days it seems to take tremendous energy on my part just to be normal (whatever normal means) and I still have energy to be vegan. I offer up that I care about many things, and I still care about veganism. I offer up that I’m an artist (I don’t have to be a good artist to claim that), and my art isn’t just pretty pictures, it’s a message of the joy and beauty in life and all that is good, and I still find and see those things even though I don’t eat bacon. Seriously, becoming vegan didn’t turn me into a dour humorless person. I offer up that I’ve made some mistakes and really bad decisions and after all these years I still look on becoming vegan as one of the best decisions I ever managed to make.

Yeah, it ain’t theory. I don’t know what you can do with all that. It’s what I have at the moment and it’s what I want to share.



  1. bazu said,

    I definitely think you have things worth saying!
    You touched on one of my pet peeve issues- people who think I’m vegan because I care more about animals than about humans. No, how can I explain that my veganism is a part of the web of compassion that I want to weave in every part of my life? I don’t know any vegans that support the death penalty. I know many vegans who are also deeply involved in issues of human rights and social justice. It’s just another facet of being attuned to suffering and injustice- I want the people and animals in this world to live as free from unjust suffering as possible, period.
    What is so hard to understand about that??

  2. vko said,

    This is a great post and you definitely have brought up many worthwhile issues.

    Blogging is essentially self-indulgent, but I am grateful for blogs because I discovered a whole vegan blog community out there and I am continually inspired by so many blogs that I read.

    We should all have a voice and those voices will speak to different people and touch lives in ways that one might never know but we don’t want to miss any possible opportunity to not say something and not inspire thought and action.

  3. Fairly Odd Tofu Mom said,

    I just ran across your blog link on someone elses… and I had to come check it out.
    Great stuff! Very thought provoking stuff and I have to agree SO VERY MUCH!

    I’ll be back!

    Tofu Mom

  4. Neva Vegan said,

    Thank you everyone!

    Bazu, I hate that “what do you do for people” stuff. At this point being vegan is incredibly caring toward human beings since animal agriculture is a primary cause of global warming. What could be better for people than preserving the planet for future generations?

    VKO, thanks for the compliments. I do hope to spur others to consider giving veganism a try. I always think that I’m such an unlikely vegan, given my background, that if I can do it anyone can. If only they saw it that way.

    Thank you, Fairly Odd Tofu Mom! I looked over at your blog, so I’ll definitely have to keep up with it. Food, animals, and trips, what could be better!

  5. springsandwells said,

    Such a great blog… so many honest and thoughtful posts! Thanks for the recent comments on my blogs – and thanks especially for them leading me here.

    ” I try to remind myself that the world is full of idiots, so maybe there isn’t that much harm in my being my own special brand of idiot.” – such a sweet and wonderful sentiment! I love the idea of being my own special brand of idiot.

  6. Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said,

    I absolutely love this post and am so glad you decided to share it. It truly strikes a familiar chord.

    and your voice here? beautiful.

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