Beyond Carnism

Its been quite a while since I’ve made a post and I think it’s time to get back into the swing of things. I’ve been vegetarian for the past three years and have recently made the decision to transition to vegan. I can’t say that it’s going to be an easy thing to do, but for me it is the correct and necessary thing to do. Thanks to Melanie Joy and her organization, Beyond Carnism, the vegan lifestyle is growing quite quickly. Her TED Talk on the topic of Carnism is absolutely stunning. Check it out!

A New Beginning

Beginnings are difficult for me. Change is difficult for me. But I have learned the hard way that trying to evade such change often concludes negatively, so I have learned to just roll with it.

One thing I think is impossible for the average intellect to avoid is the truth of what nightmarish horrors are being overlooked and downright ignored in the meat, dairy, and egg industry. It makes me stick to learn of the truth and it makes me angry to know that so many people, including the loved ones I know and would otherwise call reasonable, compassionate people, are turning a blind eye to what is happening. Many because they believe that there is “no possible way” anyone could get away with that, others because they are uneducated, even more because they “don’t want to know”, and even a few who just “don’t care” and “love their steak too much.” It’s hard to sit by and watch this happen while everyone else goes about their day eating the dead carcasses of other animals who would otherwise be living.

I’ve made a bit of a resolution for this new year. Last year I made the pledge to go vegan by the end of the year. I slacked all the way through the first half of the year before finally buckling down and making the commitment at the very end of July. That’s over half of the year wasted and so many tortured animals that I could have spared. This year I won’t make that same mistake.

Starting in the new year I’m going raw til 4, the diet I was originally on when I switched to this lifestyle. Honestly the consumption of fruit early in the day gave me so much energy and I felt 10x better just by changing what I was eating. I really don’t know why I stopped. I am also pledging to make one post a week, researching various brands, food items, ethical issues, and health problems in relation to veganism and relaying the information with reliable sources here on the vegelovin page. I want to be able to educate myself and others about this terrible industry and the lies that are being fed to us as children to turn a profit for these large companies.Perhaps eventually I can start a blog series, but for now this is where my conglomeration of vegan education will be gathered.

In starting off the new year, I can proudly say that I am becoming more at terms with who I am and where I am going. This journey will be a difficult one, that’s certain, but I know that if I make the best of it there is so much that can come out of it.

– Jordan

Shane Koyczan

I don’t usually try to focus a blog post on one specific person but I think there is one man who deserves special praise right now. I have read countless poems by this man and he never fails to make me smile. In some form or another, he is always making an effort to help someone be noticed or improve the overall condition of the world. He is always working toward making life more bearable and I think that is the kind of person I want to be when I reach my ultimately successful moment.
I want to know that I can impact someone so much and it amazes me how few words he needs to say to do just that. I just received this poem in my email:

Prayer for the Someone who is Somewhere Dying 

I did not know you
we did not counsel each other through the hardships of experience
we did not foolishly believe that a driver’s license
was the cure to our failed popularity

we never laughed at each other
with the well meaning that you can find sculptures of
in any cathedral
 that was built to memorialize love

we did not backpack across Europe and drink cheap wine
while celebrating our adventures in flesh
I wish we would have 
but seldom were my thoughts
that you were even out there
I did not know you
we did not feel the inconsistent tides 
of our comings and goings

the way friends sometimes do

we did not lay heavy sacrifices upon the altars of longing
hoping to bed those we dreamt of in our youth
and if by chance distance allowed us to do so
we never traded the stories
as if they were the baseball cards
needed to complete the collection of ourselves
we did not break bread
I wish we would have

but seldom were the times I took pause to think of you
until now you have only been a concept

something that I once or twice glimpsed

and later dismissed as a cunning trick of light and shadow
but please know

I cannot live in your absence with only the wretched excuse
that I did not know you
so sleep now
knowing that upon my death
my body will be the candle that I light for you.

Shane Koyczan 

A Lesson in Generosity

For the past year there has really been something tugging at the front of my brain and although I thought it was a really cool idea, it was something that I thought seldomly happened or wouldn’t happen to me, however, last Thursday I was proven wrong.

It was the first day of classes and since I’m part of a middle college (high school and college) I was required to attend. I had gotten ready in a hurry that morning and forgot the lunch I had planned on my bedroom floor, leaving me with $4 to feed 2 hungry teenagers. As we were walking through Fred Meyers I looked to my girlfriend and said, “Okay. We have $4, what do you want to eat?” or something along those lines.

At this point I was almost completely oblivious to the employee  stacking boxes in the vegetable/deli section and was quite surprised when she popped up in front of us and handed us a wad of cash. She said that it wasn’t much, but it would at least get us lunch. We asked the lady if she was sure, and took the money, only to find out that she had given us $12. There is a big difference between $4 and $16 and it was because of her that we were able to eat lunch for the three days following the incident.

I never saw her name tag and she seemed to disappear shortly after, but it’s thinks like this that make me want to pay for someone else’s meal. I have yet to actually do it, but once I get enough money to make sure I can feed myself, I would love to pay for someone else’s meal and see what happens.

The generosity of this woman not only made my day because I was fed, but because I was overjoyed that someone would give away their hard earned cash to a couple of teenagers trying to feed themselves. I’d love to know I made someone else’s day that way.

Courtesy

I’m staying in a hotel tonight (since I’m going through the dreaded Military Medical Processing (MEPS) tomorrow), and I found this hanging on the towel rack in the bathroom. I thought it was neat, and I’ve never seen a hotel that mentioned this, so I thought it was worth sharing.

Sometimes I just throw my towel on the floor in a hurry, not because I want them to give me a new one. Having a simple little reminder could go a long way!

Piggyback Posting

I just read a friend’s Ishmael blog, and she had such a brilliant post that I decided to share my own thoughts on it. You can read the original blog at +Jackie Boyer‘s blog: My Blog.

To start off with, I never really made the connection of The Matrix and Ishmael being so similar in nature. In the same way Neo has to choose between the red pill and the blue pill, Daniel Quinn’s readers have to choose between taking action and not.

Morpheus says (like in the picture), “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” Morpheus showed Neo what the real world looks like, the same way Daniel Quinn showed his readers the negative (and very permanent) impact we’re having on the Earth.

Making a decision like this… choosing between the red or blue pill, is a very hard decision. I’m sure we’d all like to think that we’d choose the red pill and be opened up to the reality of what the world is, but the idea of the blue pill can be very tempting.

Going back to one of my previous posts, one girl (whom I quoted) wrote that she was surprised that Ishmael didn’t have as much of a profound affect on other’s lives as it did on hers (paraphrased). I guess this is true in some cases, but from what I’ve read, people either didn’t take it seriously, they hated it, or they thought it was a good read but not life-changing. What I may suspect (and I may be wrong) is that maybe some people are just too afraid to take the red pill.

I think that some people, after reading Ishmael, are inspired and want to make a change, but they feel like they are going to fail and fall back into the repeating cycle of obeying Mother Culture. This may just be a theory of mine (and may be completely wrong), but I read one post on Reddit (a while ago) by [Deleted] that read, “I find it hard to take anything that proselytizes and encourages a secular form of evangelism seriously. And like another post said, it is predictable.”

After reading this I was pretty blown away that someone thought it was predictable. If it was so predictable and people already know this, why aren’t we doing anything about it? That is a model example of Mother Culture’s cunning persuasion. Saying “Yes!” isn’t easy when someone is yelling “No!” in your ear.

Georgia Guidestones

World Population Graph (billions)

Since reading Ishmael, I have spent a lot of time looking at how Ishmael impacted other people. After looking at this population graph, I started wondering what other people thought about population after having read Ishmael. I came across these photos of the Georgia Guidestones. They have inscriptions in them from several different languages and four ancient dialects. They list rules or “guidelines” that the human race should follow. I’m not sure if we really should listen to what they say, but I found them kind of interesting.

The Georgia Guidestone in English
There are a few people who think that they were created after someone read the Story of B, but looking at dates, that’s not possible unless someone in the future invented time travel. Still, it lists a lot of things that seem to be brought up in both Ishmael and The Story of B, including population control.
Interestingly enough, they look really old and are giving Ishmael and The Story of B a lot of attention. The enscriptions are in English, Chinese, Swahili, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Spanish, Classical Greek, Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Sanskrit, and Babylonian, reading:

  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000 in perpetual balance with 
  2. nature. 
  3. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity. 
  4. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  5. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
  6. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  7. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  8. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  9. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  10. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
  11. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
Entire Georgia Guidestone monument

The “be not a cancer on the earth” portion really rings true in our current state. The engraved tablet seems to list all of the fundamental actions we should NOT take in order to successfully survive on the planet, and yet, it seems that we have completely ignored it.

I can’t say that the principles on this stone tablet are completely valid and I’m not trying to say we should follow all 11 rules, but taking it into consideration might shed some light on our current situation.

Maybe we can get more people to realize that we have a problem here and get them on board to help repair the damage we have already created.

To end the post positively, I came across a quote on the web by Ralph Waldo Emerson that reads, “We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided by each private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.”

How has Ishmael affected you?

I recently just found a community forum on Reddit (though I’m not really a regular user) and I read the message from the girl who started the thread:

I’ve recommended the book to too many people who say they liked it a lot and that it was really interesting, but I can tell they aren’t changed. Do you find that Ishmael allows you to just put it away and move on with your life?
Granted, in my opinion, Ishmael makes it dangerously easy to do just that. That’s why I always emphasize that further reading is essential when recommending it. Ishmael only introduces you to a new world. Reading the rest of Quinn’s works (especially My Ishmael) pushes you through the door and locks it behind you. When Ishmael was the only book I’d read I was still more affected than most people I know, but I almost wished I hadn’t read it. I didn’t want to read more. I was afraid in some weird way–I honestly didn’t get a good feeling from it. The knowledge was some kind of horrible burden and, somehow, I felt even more imprisoned. I remember saying to someone about the book, “I’ve always felt that we are living in some kind of prison, the only difference now is that I can see the bars.” It was only after I worked up the courage to continue reading that I became the Quinn evangelist that I am today. Perhaps it’s because the ideas are deepened and clarified and brought to life. You begin to understand that the point isn’t to go backwards and that there are better worlds out there to be discovered. Still…I’d like to see more people respond to the first book more dramatically, at least in the way that I did. It seems like it’s a fine line.
Does anyone else have any thoughts on the book’s effects personally, or on other people you know?

Through the entire class, I’ve been asking myself what the point of reading this book was. I felt similar to they way she described:  “[like] we are living in some kind of prison, the only difference now is that I can see the bars.” I am going to continue to read Quinn’s works, and who knows, maybe I’ll continue writing on this blog even after our assignment is done.

Since reading the book I have spent a lot of time looking at issues in our natural environment that are anthropogenic in nature. I have found a lot of interesting issues, but the one that puzzles me most is that we see these negative impacts on the environment and we still lay back and are comfortable sitting on the couch doing nothing.

A lot of people who have read Quinn’s work call him an anti-civ, but I just don’t think that’s true. Quinn wrote in My Ishmael, “There is no one right way to live.” When I originally read the book, I thought Quinn was trying to convert us all into “leavers” and make us go live in the woods and wipe our butts with dandelions and wet leaves. After leading a discussion in class I was informed that this was not the case, and it made sense.
My professor told me that Quinn wasn’t trying to convert us into “leavers”, but he was trying to take us out of our “taker” story and put us on the path to writing a new chapter where the “takers” and “leavers” can co-exist in harmony (haha, cliche I know). But seriously, the idea that Quinn wasn’t trying to convert us really took me aback and I started wondering what led me to think that he might be trying to.
I concluded that a large part of why I thought that was that I got defensive about what he had to say. It’s no secret that Quinn takes a hit on religion (and specifically Christianity). When I read all of the things that he had to say about my way of life [religion, civilization, grocery stores, my dreams of running a corporate business or being a lawyer or doctor (or whatever, I don’t really know what I want to be)], I got really defensive and tried to find flaws in his logic, but really, he was just trying to make his point clear.
There are a lot of things that Ishmaelians have done to spread Ishmael’s message, including bumper stickers, graffiti (wall art), posters, rebellions, petitions, plays/script writing, books, blogs, organizations, book clubs, and artistic expressions (possibly including the Georgia Guidestones), but the biggest discouragement is that their voices aren’t being heard. A large portion of people write them off as tree-hugging greenies and ignore what they have to say.
I mean, I’ve never been much of a greenie. I don’t know a lot about sustainable energy or environmental conservation, but I’m doing my best to make a difference. Reading Ishmael really changed my life and made me realize that there really isn’t one way to live. We can’t make indigenous cultures assimilate into American culture because that way of life just doesn’t work for everybody. Our attempts to make that work are beginning to prove fatal to our planet.
So I guess Ishmael has changed my life. It has changed the way that I look at things and the decisions I make in my life. Being a part of the small community of individuals in Alaska that are trying to make a change makes me proud to be alive. It has helped me realize that these messages on repeat in my head shouldn’t make me feel bad because they’re a part of ONE way of life that I am choosing not to be a part of. Now, it’s just time to make the change.

What is the way of the human being?

BAM! The question hit my conscience like a bullet train. What is the way of the human being? Well, heck, I sure didn’t know. Isn’t one of the main lessons in Ishmael that there is no “right” way to live, thus meaning that there is no “way of the human being”? Well, that’s what I thought…

Our discussion today kicked off with that question and it seemed as though everyone else was just as puzzled as I was. I tried to think about the question. Really think about it. But my mind just kept drawing blanks each time I tried to take my thoughts in a specific direction.

The discussion moved on quickly and I didn’t have much time to think. A while later we started talking about why we should save native cultures. More specifically, why we should save the Alaskan Native culture from drinking itself to death. As a class we listed the following reasons:

  • We can still learn from the native culture
  • If our way of life fails, we know that we will have another way of living
  • The natives know how to live here (in Alaska)
After we finished listing reasons to save the native culture, I started getting really upset. One of the most important lessons I got out of Ishmael was that we should take care of our community because it is the right thing to do. We should care for each other, Mother Nature, and planet Earth, otherwise our mission to succeed as a species will fail.
Caring for each other in my book means that we don’t have to get a gain out of something. We have talked this entire semester on and off about how we should do things to conserve our planet because it’s where we live. Alaska is where we live and taking care of each other is a huge step in the right direction. If we want to be able to put energy and time into conserving Earth’s natural environment, we have to be able to fix the problems that we have within our community.
I know extending my community to include all of Alaska is a bit of a stretch, but Alaska is just kind of like that. We are cut off from the rest of the United States so we’re a little different in that way. We’re supposed to take care of each other. The same kind of Taker culture that works in the lower 48 alright doesn’t work well up here. We’re secluded and we don’t have an escape unless we want to go through Canada (and anyone that’s done that will know how hard it is) or on a gas-guzzling airplane.
The reasons we listed brought me back to the Taker mindset. Sure, they were all valid ideas, but they contained the idea that we have to get a gain out of something or it’s not worth doing (which is the opposite of the native mindset). In the native culture, you do things because it benefits your community as a whole, not because it benefits you. Actions are done and decisions are made with future generations and the impact on the community as a whole in mind. Thinking like that makes sure that everyone benefits in the end and the community is lifted as a whole, rather than benefiting an elite few and throwing the rest into poverty.
I know this post is rather negative, but I was just really upset when I realized that our inspiration for saving something was drenched in Taker motives.