Sunday, October 16, 2011

We Are All Each Other

we want a better world. one that's kinder, more fair and just, and one that considers the needs of all people. we want a world where people respect the environment, a world with clean air, water and land. how each of us consumes plays a huge part in how polluted our world is.

but how can we demand positive changes in the world, if we display a rote disconnect between our actions and a crumbling ecosystem . buying tim hortons disposable coffee cups may seem like a small thing, but millions of people doing "a small thing" can create a huge garbage problem. we all need to consider the impact our actions are having on our planet. and it all starts with you and me and our local community.

how we choose to feed, clothe, house and transport ourselves can go a long way toward creating a better world, or creating one that is much worse.

right off the bat, if we eat meat, we don't care about the well being of nonhuman animals. whether we are talking about so called free range animals, or those raised on factory farms, we are condoning the killing of sentient beings to satisfy our pleasures of the palate. the reduction of suffering is of paramount importance for a kinder world, and for that reason, factory farms, with their overcrowded and inhumane conditions  should be boycotted.

but even free range animals are eventually killed, and for what? surely killing, if not done in strict self defense, is an abhorrent evil as well. not only robbing the life of a creature with an emotional existence, but at the same time suppressing that better part of our humanity, namely, empathy for another feeling being.

subsistence hunters, like those in many first nations communities, live that way for their survival, and have done so for thousands of years. but now, thanks to western lifestyles, that native way of life is becoming as extinct as the animals that sustained them. the vast majority of us however, are not subsistence hunters. for us, it is for reasons of gluttony and greed that we raise animals for food.

one might argue that raising animals for food provides jobs, just as, for example, the tar sands provides jobs. but jobs are not an end in themselves. people who steal, injure and murder others provide jobs for police, lawyers, judges, jailers etc, but no one would suggest that we shouldn't lessen the amount of crime in our neighborhoods because it employs people. and why? because these things cause harm to others and our goal as an ethical, thoughtful, caring society is to reduce the amount of harm we cause to others who have the capacity to suffer.

if we want to create a better world, we need to start with one that respects the right of living, breathing, feeling beings to exist without being exploited by us for profit or to fill our bellies.

reducing our consumption, garbage and the pollution we produce, must play pivotal roles in our lives if we are to struggle for improvement in this world. for those who don't do it voluntarily, we must tax the abusers or substantially fine them. polluters like the tar sands would pay heavy fines indeed and owners of huge gas guzzling pick up trucks and SUVs would be taxed so high they couldn't afford to drive them. if a system like capitalism is antithetical to reducing consumption, then we must modify it or dismantle it altogether.

let us occupy the world, but please, let us at the same time be good examples and role models for others to follow, and alter how we choose to live our lives by making more considerate, compassionate and ethical choices. that means not buying coffee in disposable cups, in a disposable bag, placed on a disposable cup holder. we are being overrun with garbage in our consumer based disposable society. consumption and unlimited growth may be good for the economy, but it is terrible for our ecology.

we must begin to care about the other beings we share the planet with, by not raising them for food, or destroying wild habitat because of our growing population.

there are evil external forces beating down upon us that keep us in subjection, just as we keep many nonhuman animals oppressed. maybe they ought to be holding occupy demonstrations against us, but they can't, so we continue our arrogant behavior of "dominion" over them.

oil and gas influencing our government and policy making while quashing attempts to find cleaner, more sustainable energy alternatives is a huge problem today. one that, unfortunately, we are all complicit in. anyone who drives, heats their home, or cooks their food, is a fossil fuel junkie only feeding the beast that is destroying our world.

yesterday at occupy edmonton, there were people on stationary bikes that were hooked up in such a manner to power speakers and a microphone. very cool. if these occupy demonstrations here and around the globe are to mean anything, and are to have a lasting impact, they must not only seek to get rid of the corporate influence in politics and our judicial system, but also implant in everybody's mind the idea of living more ethically and thoughtfully.

the narrative is already changing as issues of the grossly iniquitous distribution of wealth, or money controlling elected officials, or reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, are being discussed around dinner tables all across this country. now we need to translate these discussions into positive and considerate actions. then millions of people doing seemingly small things, like for example, going vegan, or cutting down on the amount of throw-away products that are purchased, or simply driving less, will have a huge impact toward fashioning more loving and mindful communities.

it's not about creating perfection, it's about striving to make the world a better place.

finally, let's remember the words of john lennon, "i am he, as you are he, as you are me, and we are all together". what is it that traces the insuperable line between "they" and "we"? are we not all each other, capable of experiencing a life where things can fare well or ill for us? if we are all troy davis, then we are also all his executioner. we should not deny and hide the worst aspects of ourselves, but rather confront and overcome them through compassion, empathy, understanding...and love.

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