Archive for activism

On Anti-Fascism, Veganism, Church-Going

Posted in Rant/ Rave, real life with tags , , , , , , , on April 2, 2017 by sethdellinger
1.
 
There are certainly plenty of words out there in the world right now about the current state of our country, and our president, and protesting, and on and on. I realize there’s not a whole lot of original thought I can add to the mix, especially since I am far from an expert on these matters. But I feel as though I should at least take a brief moment here to elucidate exactly where I stand. So here is my elucidation: free speech is an awesome thing. It is one of the truly great things about America. An open and fair exchange of ideas is crucial to maintaining an evolving culture free of dictatorship. However, many folks have pinned this down as the absolute unchangeable linchpin of America, and believe it to be boundless and without exception. And, to the letter of the law, they’re mostly right. The Westboro Baptist assholes have the right to their hate-mongering, and Free Speech lovers like to say things like, “I hate what they’re saying, but I’d fight to the death for their right to say it.”
See, the thing is, some ideas don’t need room to breathe. I grant you that these ideas must be limited to very few, otherwise “free speech” as we know it ends. But ideas that espouse the denial of basic human rights to other citizens DO NOT NEED PROTECTION. Your precious “free exchange of ideas” does not have to extend to Nazism, white nationalism, or other hate rhetoric which, once given any sort of official platform, becomes normalized. The word “Nazi” is getting thrown around a lot in the media today, but only with the pallor of the Holocaust implied. It’s time we said it out loud: we need to take every pain we can to prevent anything even CLOSE to the wholesale murder of citizens from happening again. And it starts with labeling groups, sanctioning hate, rounding people up. This sort of activity has begun in this country. And we can no longer sanction speech that furthers these ideas. I’m not suggesting we outlaw it—that would be tricky—but the citizen policing of this vile threat is perfectly fine by me. Well beyond “punching Nazis”—WHATEVER IT TAKES.
We have seen how these kinds of things end.
2.
On a similar but totally separate topic, allow me to wax whimsical for a little while on the topic of veganism.  I’ve addressed it a little bit previously in the blog but on the whole, not nearly as much as I’d like.  I’ll try to be really gentle about this.
See, I totally get why you non-vegans get really touchy about us vegans.  Veganism–and animal activism–is really the only philosophy I can think of where, by virtue of subscribing to it, you thereby indict literally everyone else who isn’t following it.  Non-vegans sense this (usually unspoken) friction just by someone announcing they are a vegan and become defensive despite a vegan not even directly addressing them on the topic.  This is understandable; as I said, the non-vegan (henceforth referred to in this blog as carnists) senses that their very status as a meat eater means they are at odds with my worldview.  This is not incorrect.
Like any group of people, vegans come with many nuanced views and philosophies.  Many believe that we should be gentle, encouraging, non-confrontational, educational.  Some believe we should work as hard as we can to disrupt the status quo and that by causing loud friction within the world, we do the most to help animals.  Still others just want to be vegan–eat no animal products–and leave it at that.  Obviously, I mostly adhere to the disruption school, but on the whole, I say if you’re a vegan, I’m not overthinking how YOU want to do it.  But my belief that animals are our moral and ethical equals forces me to try to change their plight as quickly as possible.
If you’re a carnist, you have to understand that I don’t think you’re a bad person or an idiot.  How could I? I ate meat until I was 38 years old!  And I fully understand the ways in which our modern culture raises all of us to have blinders on when it comes to the misery the meat, dairy, and egg industry causes, but even more than that, the way our society ingrains in us the belief that we are superior to animals–so superior that we can actually create FACTORY FARMS of them.  The mechanism that can make us all blind to this is powerful.  It isn’t your fault that you don’t see it.
But see, it’s my job to try to wake you up.  And this is where I fail.  On social media, in “real life” interactions with friends and family, I still care more about your comfort and “keeping the peace” than the animal who suffers so terribly so that you don’t have to change.  Many, many people think that since I’ve become a vegan, I’ve changed, become “smug” or “judgmental”–but the problem is, I’m not even doing nearly enough.
For fuck’s sake, they’re out there right now–in the damp cold, in tiny stalls, being force fed, they can’t even turn around, they’re covered in their shit, and they know–those poor, poor animals, they know.  
And I’m not saying or doing enough to help them, just so I don’t rock the boat.  What monsters we are!
3.  Check out this masterpiece Philip Larkin poem:
“Church Going”
by Philip Larkin

Once I am sure there’s nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don’t.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
“Here endeth” much more loudly than I’d meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognizable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation – marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these – for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I’ve no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 23, 2017 by sethdellinger

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The Morning After

Posted in real life with tags , , on November 9, 2016 by sethdellinger

“Mom, wherever there’s a cop beating a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me, Mom, I’ll be there

Wherever somebody’s fighting for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helping hand
Wherever somebody’s struggling to be free
Look in their eyes, Ma, and you’ll see me”

–“The Ghost of Tom Joad”, Bruce Springsteen

It happened.  And there’s certainly no going back now.  Our country has changed.  It had probably changed before the election results, but now, of course, there’s no denying it.

We are a divided people, no doubt.  But we have always been.  We’ve even been more divided than this (folks who tell you this is the worst it’s ever been are the same folks who tell you to do your research, even though they’ve never read an actual book).  We are divided, but we’ll be OK.

But what Donald Trump himself might do to this country is unthinkable.  It’s not his policies or ideologies that are so terrifying.  We could survive even the most radical of a conservative.  It’s him.  What he says, does, how he acts.  His disregard for the basic foundations of our nation.  From that, there might be no coming back.

It is fully possible the election of Donald Trump signals the end of the American experiment.  He could very well set into motion forces that topple our nation.  This game is too big to survive his bluster.

I have a family now, which I love and cherish more than anything in the cosmos.  If I was still a single man, I would be speaking right now very earnestly about leaving the country.  I know that seems cliché and silly by now, but I really would.  Or, failing that idea, I might find or start some sort of anti-Trump militia–find some radical way to try to hold onto what we’ve built here.

But I must take great pains to remain an integral, present part of my family unit.  Their future is the thing I must be most concerned with.  But make no mistake: if it becomes necessary, if we are being pushed towards annihilation, you will find me in the streets.  You will find me marching toward those that would rend us asunder.  You will find me arm in arm with my brothers and sisters, and we will be holding more than signs in our hands.  You will find me in the revolution, because that’s how I will protect my family.

 

Why I’m Vegan

Posted in Rant/ Rave, real life with tags , , , on October 30, 2016 by sethdellinger

As most of you know, I became a vegan about four months ago (and before that, a vegetarian about a year and a half ago).  This development has caused no small amount of friction between myself and some friends and loved ones, mostly due to the fact that I’ve become not only a vegan, but a vegan of the outspoken/ activist variety.  This upsets people.  I understand that.  I figured it was time I detail the philosophy for you a little bit.

Here is really where the rubber meets the road, where the rest of the philosophy comes from, and why you feel I am attacking you:

It is my firm and passionate belief that all animals on Earth are deserving of equal moral consideration.  This runs contrary to how even the most compassionate non-vegans in our culture think.  We are raised to believe that, in some way–a way that usually rests just a shade outside our ability to explain–humans exist above animals, in moral or ethical importance.  You may have said at some point in your life, “I’m sad that animals got hurt, but at least no human lives were lost“, or “Of course animal rights matter, but there are human issues that are more pressing.”  I understand why you think that way; I did too most of my life.  Our society (and in fact, most societies) raise you to think that way.  We call this way of thinking speciesism.  Frankly, I don’t love the term.  It begs to be mocked and is, perhaps, a little too precious.  But that’s the term we use and it IS accurate. (also I’ve thought about it quite a bit and can’t actually come up with a better term).  Why is it that you think humans are more important than animals?  REALLY.  WHY IS IT THAT YOU THINK THAT?

There are, of course, many reasons that get put forth to justify putting humans above animals, which I won’t take time to detail here.  Suffice it to say we find those reasons to be poppycock.  Animals feel pain and suffering, and above all, are simply not ours to own, control, kill, or consume.  They are their own.

Having established a moral compass wherein all animals are weighted the same, eating animals, or imprisoning or torturing them, is the exact equivalent to eating or torturing humans.  It bears the exact same moral weight.  Which is why it is not a “diet” and why I will not acknowledge your right to do it as “your choice”.

Picturing a world where all animals are due the same consideration, imagine now a farm.  The manner in which cows, pigs, chickens, et al–who have done nothing wrong whatsoever–are imprisoned, given a horrible, painful, short life and are then butchered: this is like we are doing it to humans.  Factory farms do this on a massive level; hundreds of thousands of PEOPLE are, at any moment, wrongfully imprisoned and murdered.

Yes, we call them people.  It serves to rip further the veil we are all under, this false assumption that because animals are different from us that they are less-than, that we control and own them, that their lives are ours to take, and their suffering meaningless.  These are our ethical equals, these are people, and what we are doing is nothing less than a holocaust.

So yes, you may think it’s silly when we call them people, or when we talk about SLAVEHOLDERS, but the moral equivalency is very real.  The problem is one of urgency for the poor, doomed, imperiled people currently imprisoned all over the world.  And you want me to be silent?  You think I should “accept your choice”?  I would no sooner silently assent to you eating a human limb.  I would no sooner be quiet about American police murdering black people.  I would no sooner be silent about LGBTQ Americans not having equal rights.  I like to think, given a chance to go back in time, I could not have been silent about the Holocaust of the second world war.  I cannot and will not be silent about this holocaust.  Animal rights are human rights.

You feel personally attacked when I post a vegan meme to Facebook; I get it.  You feel judged.  I assure you I am not thinking about you specifically when I spread the message: how you feel about what you read and see is between you and the animals.  But when you engage me on the topic, I can not and will not be soft.  How could I?  Look at what is at stake!

Many in the vegan community also think we should pull back.  They say being in peoples’ faces turns them even more off of vegans and lessens our chances of growing the movement.  Except: every successful social change movement in history disagrees with you.  Stop being cowards (and suggesting I be a coward too!)–if these WERE humans being farmed, would you suggest the best way to stop it is posting “vegan gym selfies” (Look, I get plenty of protein, eat vegan!) and pinning recipes on Pinterest?  I refuse to treat animal liberation like some delicate flower because people might feel a certain way about it.  I IMPLORE THEM TO FEEL A CERTAIN WAY.

The best way to make large, lasting change is to cause friction with the status quo.  It is our goal to hold up to people the true vision of the world: the idea that what we are doing to animals is a needless atrocity.  Some “soft activism” is good, too (gym selfies, Pinterest recipes), but it’s not enough.

The world needed Martin Luther King, but it also needed Malcom X.

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