Friday, October 12, 2007

The Nature of the Beast

One of my favorite sayings as a vegan and angsty quasi-pacifist living in a city with an intolerably high murder rate is Kill two humans with one bullet. It's my cynical little spin on the equally deranged Kill two birds with one stone. I've been noticing lately just how many of these types of cliches have influenced my adult vernacular, especially as they relate to the most basic of human and planetary ethics and traits. There are the diet-influenced sayings like You are what you eat and An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Then there are all those that try to capture the singular characteristics of our animal kingdom. Here are a few examples: It's the nature of the beast; Birds of a feather flock together; Don't put the cart before the horse; Don't count your eggs before they're hatched; Don't put all your eggs in one basket; or, my favorite, Happy as a clam (which---up until recently---I always thought was Happy as a clown, since clowns seem like much more jubilant folk than clams).

Like most couples, friends, neighbors, family members, or colleagues who share a good portion of their lives together, Joselle and I frequently adopt each other's sayings and thoughts. Some are cliche; some are just plain malicious; and others are suprisingly profound. I've taken to Joselle's This is a slow boat to China when I think about how far off a non-exploitative, animal-friendly world really seems---despite our modern, sophisticated, semantics-obssessed society. Joselle has also commented several times as to how everyone (including the carnivore) is a vegetarian in some capacity, whereas vegetarians will not and cannot be omnivores; something that's always struck me as insightful and poignant. Pretty much everyone eats vegetables, regardless of where people are from or what the hell they believe. Folks like their legumes (Beans, beans are good for the heart). They relish their fruit and pastas and breads and all sorts of treats, which can surely still be savory without all the animal ingredients that industries try to throw at us. If that's truly the case, why do so many omnivores get turned off by the word "vegetarian"?

Maybe it's the nature of the human beast to always want to be in control of everything. After all, A dog is [human]'s best friend---not the other way around. I mean, even the language of these cliches implies the domination of humans over the rest of the animal kingdom. Even more, there are the suggestions of our need for control in the lifestyle choices that every single one of us makes about who, what, when, where, and why we eat what we eat. Vegans choose not to consume animal flesh or byproducts out of respect for the lives of other animal species, as well as in an effort to make a statement of sociopolitical oppostition to an industry that will bleed us all dry for the right price. Contrastingly, Joselle and I can't really seem to grill-wrap our heads around why so many omnivores cringe at the thought of plant-based ingredients for vegetarian dishes; at the thought of stepping foot in a vegetarian restaurant that represents healthy living and, hopefully, environmental consciousness; at the thought of eating a Heart Thrive instead of a Snickers bar from the vending machine. Why is this? Maybe it's the nature of the beast to be selective, opinionated, obstinate, and apprehensive for no clear reason.

In order for a truly effective mutual menu to work, it seems to me that everyone involved needs to have a full understanding---not just a superficial tolerance---of why we all make the decisions that we make. Whether we do something for ethics, for self-preservation (i.e., oftentimes protecting our own individual health, rather than selflessly focusing on the health of our greater environment), or for the sheer fact that we don't really care about anything accept what feels good to us, we as humans have the special gift of verbal language; a tool set that should theoretically allow us to carefully communicate our commonalities and differences with one another. That would be the first step. Beyond that, it'd be nice if we could learn to utilize an intelligence of the "superior species" to figure out how we can all just get along.

If we don't learn to compromise, then I guess birds of a feather will continue to flock together---at least until there are no more birds to stone. In fact, if we could just be a smidgeon more thoughtful about the decisions we make, maybe humans wouldn't seem so stoned themselves.


Ryan said...

Wow -- not only have you kicked brand new flavor in my eye, you've seasoned it with DR. C! Bravo, my friend, bravo. A very persuasive treatise, indeed!

Joselle said...

As beautiful, eloquent, and reasoned a statement as the author who made it.