Every human being is a complex, multi-layered conglomeration of genes, experiences, interests, opinions, beliefs, talents, skills, and rules for living that are uniquely different from all others. We differ in so many ways, that if each of us painted a picture of the way we see what we call the “real world,” we would likely be very surprised at how unreal each looked to the others. Even those that appeared to be most like our own would be unfamiliar in more ways than we would have imagined, because the lonely truth is that the realities that rule each of our lives are worlds apart.
And yet, as many and varied as our differences are, they do not at all comprise the whole of us; nor are they, combined, nearly as vital as the one part of us that is the same. Despite our physical, mental and emotional individuality, there exists a consciousness inside each of us that is a twin to every other… a collective conscience where our highest feelings and aspirations coalesce; a shared reality in which all inhabitants are in total agreement as to what is right and what is wrong, what is kind and what is cruel, what is true and what is false. Here, in the depths and the heights of our consciousness, where goodness reigns, we are, at heart, noble beings, whose highest purpose in this mysterious life we have somehow stumbled into, is to evolve our behavior to become who we are at heart.
Here, in this shared, sacred part of us, where our differences kneel before our similarities, we see clearly that our essential needs, sweetest dreams and deepest feelings are very much the same. Most of us cry when we are sad, smile when we are hopeful, and laugh when we are tickled. We say “ouch” when something hurts us, and purr, when gently caressed. We crave and relish delicious wholesome food, clean water, pure air, warmth, comfort, safety, and that elusive butterfly we call love. We feel guilty at every betrayal of conscience and joyous at every devotion to it. We crave truth, beauty and freedom from fear. We are sometimes confident, often confused, rarely calm and almost never certain of anything, because our most telling similarity is a common ignorance of the true meaning of life.
So, the question is… if we share such a powerful guide in the nurturing of our noble selves, why do we spend so much of our precious lives doing everything but that? Why are we more willing to fight one another, even to the death, in defense of our differences, than to admit our similarities? Why don’t those of us who make the laws do so with respect for our essential needs, sweetest dreams and deepest feelings? Knowing full well, as we do, what it feels like to suffer and to fear death, why do we continue to cause so much suffering and death to others? Why is there so much cruelty and violence in the world?
These are some of the questions I have often asked myself in the privacy of my mind, as I believe many of us do. The one answer that repeats itself, over and over again. is this:
As a species, we have nourished our bodies and brains, for as long as any of us can remember, with the cruelty and violence that is inherent in the animal products we consume. Over the centuries, we have become addicted to the pleasures derived from the misery of others. Whenever our conscience rails against this behavior, which it does with every non-vegan choice we make, we distract ourselves with whatever means we have at hand… which numbs our minds and hearts to its pleas for empathy and compassion. Eventually, our numbness breeds apathy, not only toward the victims of our addiction, but toward one another and even our own selves. This apathy, which is consciousness without feeling, makes it possible for us to do whatever it takes to get our next fix.
At this crucial time in history, our collective conscience, from which none of us can entirely escape, is sounding the alarm. The situation is urgent. It is a matter of life or death for the billions upon billions of individual animals (and they are individuals) who are being mindlessly, heartlessly, systematically and brutally murdered everywhere on earth to feed our addiction to the products their dead bodies provide.
Each and every one of these animals is, in some way, screaming for our mercy. The only sane response is the immediate cessation of all abuse of all animals for any reason whatsoever. It is my firm and sincere conviction that until we cleanse ourselves of our addiction to the products of cruelty and violence, the growth of our noble nature will remain stunted, and the understanding of the true meaning of life unreachable.
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