Persuasion (How Did I Change and Why Won’t They?)

How do you persuade other people to be vegan?, vegans ask.

Why won’t the people closest to me go vegan?

What is it about some people? You can tell them the truth, but they 

just… 

won’t… 

change.

How do you let people know that there’s something they’ve yet to know?

Only when I became vegan did I really “get” what I believe. 

  • Feminism.
  • Anti-racism.
  • Respect for migrants. 
  • Class-consciousness. 
  • Any and every commitment to renounce domination dynamics. 

Only when I became vegan did I understand the rejection of mastership at the deepest level. It meant relinquishing an all-purpose privilege I wielded every day of my life.  

Strange How People Seek Protection in Their Right to Domineer.

They don’t want to give up what makes them great. Human exceptionalism is a lot like patriotism. 

Sometimes, people say they can’t part with a tradition that’s always been woven into the cultural fabric. They don’t want to feel like the loose thread.

All of this is unspoken. And it’s generally off-limits to discussion. Thus the notion that vegans won’t shut up about veganism. (Popular joke: How can you tell someone is vegan? Don’t worry; they’ll tell you.) 

But people talk about domination of animals and biocommunities all the time. Without noticing. As they engage in their everyday activities.

Vegans cannot help but seem vocal when we refuse to take part.

Is Veganism a Rejection of Culture?

Culture has many beautiful, transcendent aspects—social, artistic, political, philosophical, material. Culture develops and binds us through the centuries. We admire it. We’re proud of it. 

Culture has a troublesome inner lining, and that’s our sense of our own supremacy.

Step outside the privilege, and we can sense that we haven’t earned culture. We’ve perverted it.

I think we can appreciate culture, yet shake ourselves apart from it. True understanding will do that. It’s transformative. It’s the paradigm shift within. You can’t have it and not act on it, and you’ll be acting contrary to culture.  

Know this, really know this, and you’re not comfortable presenting veganism at a superficial level. You’ll give up your potential for popularity or career advancement rather than become the “soft seller” who calls for “steps in the right direction” and talks of adjustments to the system as great victories.

Some say people don’t want to contemplate change at the deepest level. By silencing radical (root-level) calls for change, they miss their own internal opportunity for a paradigm shift.

Here’s what I’d like to ask of every vegan I know. Understand veganism as deeply as you can. Impart it to someone else at that same, transformative level. Go for the low-hanging fruit in situations where there’s no other path, yet never lose the yearning to touch one soul and spark transformative change.

Simplicity Takes a Lot of Work.

The more I think, speak, and write (but mostly think), the more I believe I can be most useful by being clear. No jargon, no coined terms except vegan

I want to live as a messenger for the few things I understand and commit to. So I think that’s key. Making a radical and urgent message clear and simple.

Because if we think we know a meaningful and urgent thing, and want to spread the message, shouldn’t we strive to explain simply, with clarity? Rather than speaking in jargon or telling others they don’t understand the issue, we’ve got to explain, and explain simply. Simplicity, for humans, is an achievement. It takes a lot of work to identify a principle’s key elements.

Science Is Real…

Yet, contemplating most important things, our grasp of science falls short. Consider climate breakdown. Consider the chaotic and delicate interplays of biocommunities. If there is no striving for a deep, ethically powered understanding of a subject, then scientific breakthroughs serve as setbacks.

We live in a society that believes profit can drive innovation and engineering can fix our problems. And that many of us can enrich ourselves in this life by gravitating to whatever profiteering generates and holding on.

Other beings lose habitat and find their lives in turbulence as we plunder Earth and manipulate its living beings. All in the name of finding solutions to the new problems we create as we solve the old ones.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson says our original sin is pseudospeciation—which, to Jeffrey, means the belief that we are superior. That belief in our own primacy led us to domesticate others.

Arguably that sin is past the possibility of redemption. But if we never question it, then no matter how great our culture was, or how ingenious our engineering was, we’ll pass back into the universe numbly, no better for all we witnessed in all the days of our unexamined Earthly lives.

______

Banner photo by le vy

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