As environmental devastation continues to escalate, it‚Äôs essential to look at the roots of our abuse of the Earth and her complex and fragile ecosystems. Why do we allow industries to pollute and destroy with such impunity?
The latest disaster, the massive underwater oil geyser in the Gulf, may be a far more destructive and malevolent onslaught then the media is letting on, and it is but another in a long and accelerating series of attacks we are mounting against our home planet. What underlying force drives this machinery of violence? Why do we insist on stabbing, burning, and cutting our precious mother Earth instead of cooperating with her miraculous bounty, respecting and loving her? Why are we ripping apart the fabric of living creation, destroying the beautiful interconnected life that is celebrating through the communities of birds, fish, animals and plants around us.
I believe we have to look much more deeply than mere economic and political forces to the underlying, driving mentality that is ritually injected into all of us by our cultural upbringing, and more specifically, by the foods we are indoctrinated to eat by all the institutions in this culture. What we need more than anything now are conversations and discussions about the irresistible consequences of our routine violence toward billions of enslaved animals for food.
The mentality that is required to hyperconfine, mutilate, kill, and eat hundreds of millions of animals daily is precisely the mentality that ruthlessly destroys ecosystems without remorse. It is the mentality that is injected into all of us from birth by powerful cultural forces that indoctrinate us into seeing beings as mere commodities to be used. Our innate inner landscape of compassion and wisdom is devastated by relentlessly eating the flesh and secretions of enslaved animals, just as the outer landscape is devastated by the same behavior.
The hidden and mostly ungrieved tragedy is that all the devastation caused by eating animal foods‚Äîdiabetes, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis; dementia, depression, insomnia, anxiety; air and water pollution, global climate change, massive species extinction, soil erosion; starvation, malnutrition, war, inequity; and the inconceivably vast enslavement, torture, and killing of billions of fully sentient animals for food‚Äîis utterly unnecessary. There are no nutrients in animal foods that we cannot get directly from eating plants. The door is open! Each and every one of us can walk out of the prison of misery of eating animal foods, right now! There is nothing holding us except the bone-deep disconnectedness that we don‚Äôt realize we‚Äôre in a prison. We are forced by our culture to forget the truth that we are all connected, and that as we harm and imprison others for some supposed benefit, we actually harm and imprison ourselves even more. Our violence toward animals for food is ultimately violence toward ourselves. It inevitably and elegantly boomerangs. We are so obtuse as a culture that we don‚Äôt realize it.
As I write this, I sit in our rolling home, parked for a few days here at a sanctuary for some abused goats, sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and other animals who have miraculously escaped the giant industrial meat grinder they were destined for from birth. Caressing them behind the ears, rubbing their bellies, looking into their eyes, feeling the warm subjectivity of their presence, is all deeply sobering. They respond when their names are called. They are subjects of lives that are to them as important as mine is to me, and their interests are to them as important as mine are to me. Yet most of us participate in destroying them by the billions without remorse. Stealing their purposes, we lose our own, and become unwittingly enslaved ourselves in a heartless system that is devastating our Earth.
What we do to ourselves, we do to the Earth, and what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. We are not essentially separate from this beautiful Earth, from beautiful animals, and from each other. Like the cows born into a system that forces them to eat meat to produce more milk, and get fat for slaughter, we are similarly forced to eat meat, and as we reduce beings to things, we ourselves are reduced to mere objects without abiding self-respect. Animals, the Earth, future generations, and starving people all suffer directly because of this.
The way out is straightforward: Do not do to others what you wouldn‚Äôt want done to you. The ancient universal principles are infinitely wiser than our science‚Äôs latest theories and concoctions. All we need to know is in our basic human sanity, which has been relentlessly polluted like the clear Gulf waters by toxic cultural effluent.
The great metaphor of our culture is the knife. We use knives to stab and dismember 75 million animals every day in the U.S. for food. We carve up forests, we stab and maul millions of acres of land for monocropped grains for animal feed, and cut and splice the genes themselves into unnatural abominations, and stab the living body of the Earth for oil, gas, and minerals. Just as we don‚Äôt see cows and pigs as being alive, but as merely hot dogs and burgers, we don‚Äôt see the Earth as being alive, but as a mere resource, and go on stabbing ourselves in the hearts and brains, laying waste our wisdom and compassion, suffering heart attacks, strokes, and endless war.
It is now absolutely clear. Our culture must go vegan or perish. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. I see a great awakening on the horizon. We are not essentially condemned to slavery and oblivion. We are here to awaken from the nightmare of delusory separateness and celebrate our lives as manifestations of benevolence, joy, creativity, and love. This is the core teaching of veganism: we are all connected and love is our true nature. As we live this more deeply, we can transform our world.
The clock is ticking; the oil and blood are spewing. How do we respond?