Unsuitable for humans

Ignorance truly is bliss.

The thought came to me as I snuggled with Neff on the sofa, watching MasterChef (his choice) and pondering the manner in which educating myself had ruined my enjoyment of cookery shows. It wasn’t even that I particularly WANTED to be vegan (having had a long and delicious love-affair with cheese, and a HUGE penchant for (yes, stereotypically English) milky tea. BUT having turned veggie because I *knew* commercial farming and butchery practices were/are atrocious (even at their best), and having developed a dairy allergy followed by disquieting revelations about the way the milk, egg, and honey industries are all as bad (in their ways) as the meat industry…in good conscience, I bit the bullet and ootzed a whole bunch of yummy convenience from my life.

Fie on me, perhaps, because going out is now a nightmare (most restaurants MAYBE have one vegan option, if you’re lucky, and it’s usually something cold with weird grains), and all holidays are diminished in their feasting capacity (perhaps not such a bad thing), though to be honest, grocery shopping is a lot quicker and cheaper because the options are so limited (I love to cook, so I continue to eat well, and there’s a plethora of delicious vegan-friendly junk food available)…BUT cooking shows? Nope. Even food adverts turn my stomach because I now know sufficient about the heritage of the milk and the meat to put me off even wanting to see them promoted due to the images and understandings which flash across my mind.

So I cuddled Neff closer and buried my chin into the soft fluff of his dressing gown and wondered about the day when his innocent enjoyment of competition cooking might be ruined by greater understanding of the processes which lead to panna cotta, roast beef or croquembouche. I decided that cookery shows were *definitely* unsuitable for vegans.

I decided that cookery shows were definitely unsuitable for vegans - summat2thinkon.wordpress.com

I was willfully ignorant as an omnivore, and I make no bones about it – I thought vegetarians were right to stand up for their beliefs if they chose to hang onto them so strongly, but vegans were plain bonkers. WHO in their right mind would give up cheese? Or cream? Or chocolate. And to be fair, I LOVED a good meaty dish, or fish and chips, and wanted no part in knowing the things which might make me want to not eat them. I was *definitely* averse to change.

Then I learned that for every 2lb of prawns caught, there is a 40+lb by-catch, which is thrown back and wasted. That drag-netting for prawns is an ecological disaster for our oceans. That there are places where poor farmers are encouraged to turn their arable land into prawn-pools, which salinates the ground and renders it useless for agriculture, then they are given less and less money and trapped into production and…and…and I stopped eating prawns.

After that I opened my mind a smidgen and heard things which made me baulk and decide that no amount of tastiness was worth the pain and deprivation animals are put through on their way to the table. I turned (smugly) vegetarian for my New Year’s Resolution in 2015. The dairy allergy was triggered by stress after a nasty marriage break-down mid-way through my veggie phase, I learned awful things about the dairy industry not long after that, and I turned (staunchly) vegan for my New Year’s Resolution in 2016. The more you know, sometimes the less you wish you knew.

Then I read The Kite Runner (by Khaled Hossini), and quite frankly, I want to recommend it to no-one, ever, and to everyone, ever, because this book, whilst entirely fictional, brought sharp focus to things I *knew* (or suspected) occur in real life, but would FAR prefer to remain willfully ignorant of.

I read about women and children begging on the streets of Afghanistan because war had taken all the men. I read about public executions in football fields at half-time, and spectators beaten for not cheering loudly enough as the stones struck. I read about desperate men running over-subscribed orphanages, selling children to the Taliban in order to feed the others (in the knowledge that if they did not sell one child, ten would be taken and others injured, and they would jeopardise their own life, which would render ALL the remaining orphans at greater risk). I read about once-proud cities turned to rubble and children growing up accustomed to the sound of shells and gunfire.

I read things which horrified me, which try as I might, I could not contain within a box marked “It’s just fiction” in my mind. Perhaps that was Hossini’s point. He made it very successfully, because it reminded me (in a kind of domino car-crash reaction in my brain) of the things I’ve read about acid attacks in India and Pakistan, honour killings in the UK, child soldiers in Africa, baby girls left on mountainsides in China, pedophile rings, blood diamonds, the bombings between the (widely publicised) ones in Paris and Brussels, which weren’t given any media attention in the West, because they killed people in Middle Eastern countries – NOT ones we’re ‘meant’ to have sympathy for – and I wished I could snuggle my Neff’s chin into the fluff of MY dressing gown and stop him from ever having to know all of these awful things which (in my opinion) make the world *definitely* unsuitable for humans.

The more you know, sometimes the less you wish you knew - summat2thinkon.wordpress.com

It’s sickening. It makes me baulk. It makes me wish I could have remained willfully ignorant, the way I do about clothes shopping or toiletries shopping, or non-fair-trade goods, or my balled-up unrecyclable plastics ending up in landfills or choking the seas, or whether or not things are okay now in Haiti or Burma or China or Nepal, or whether those abducted Nigerian school girls have been found and returned to their homes…

The more I knew, the less I wished I knew.

Empathy is tough, though, and there’s a reason I remained willfully ignorant. There’s a reason we all do – if we tried to face up to the depth and breadth of hurt in this world (not to mention our own part in its infliction), we’d break. We’d disintegrate into little pieces and never be able to go out ever again. If we tried to take the weight of human agony on our own shoulders and dared attempt to fix it, we would be finished.

We insulate ourselves because we MUST; because each new pain revealed makes our former, comfortable, cossetted, closeted lives, untenable. Empathy demands that we acknowledge those hurts and good conscience demands that we try to make reparation – to redeem the situation. To attempt that wholesale, given the magnitude of messed-up which exists, would be madness.

There was redemption and beauty in The Kite Runner, though, and it came when the protagonist, Amir, was forced to face up to his past transgressions, whether through negligence, through weakness, or his own deliberate fault, and take ACTION to change. He gained unwanted understanding, was challenged by it, empathised, and did what he could. I discovered a quote by a chap called Prince Ea, which struck me as remarkably apt:

There is a huge difference between WANTING to change and BEING WILLING to change. Almost everyone wants to change for the better. Very few are willing to take the steps necessary to create that change. – Prince Ea

Challenging too, because I want change, I write for change – I write my little heart out, hoping to untangle my thoughts and inspire others and make sense of the messy, broken, glorious world around me – but am I willing to change? Willing to get off my ass and MAKE a difference happen? Or am I already? Am I onto something with the whole (somewhat desperate in the face of the sheer scale of tragedies I remain ignorant to every day) #LoveWins concept – the idea that connection, community, one small act of kindness and goodness and reaching out at a time, can make a difference?

Yes. Because they do.

They absolutely make a difference. Every small act, done in kindness – whether for someone you know or someone you don’t; for animals you know, or animals at large; for the oceans; for the lands; for the world – every single one, COUNTS. They have impact. They make ripples. They show each of us who does them as people striving to be better humans, which is surely our highest calling (according to Maslow) – to be the best US we can be.

I Stand FOR ALL

No small feat, for being the best US we each can be involves hard introspection, the admission of our own failings through negligence, weakness, or our own deliberate fault, and the commitment to doing what we can, when we can, starting from where we are NOW. Because no-one could ask for more than that. Because we couldn’t possibly DO more than that, but we CAN do that. Because maybe there is nothing more beautiful than people reaching out, connecting, and making change for better. Because perhaps somehow, we are here to love ourselves, each other, and the earth; to build relationships with each and within them find redemption.

We may yet find that this world is, in fact, most wonderfully and gloriously suitable for humans.

We just have work to do.

We have to love.

#LoveWins

 

 

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34 thoughts on “Unsuitable for humans

  1. I thought Kite Runner was a superb book – there have been many true stories that have opened my eyes – I recommend “Even Silence Has An End” by Ingrid Betancourt – it’s her account of 6 years of captivity in the Colombian jungle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OOooooh thank you so much, Linda! I’ll have to see if I can find it at the library. I went in today and borrowed ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’, which is also by Hossain, and was recommended to me as a follow-on read from The Kite Runner.

      6 years of captivity though. Wow!

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  3. There are many things in our world that are quite unsuitable for human consumption….the older I grow the more aware I become and the less I want to know. Perhaps ignorance is bliss, or the truth shall set me free. i am not sure which, but what I do know is that i must do what is best for me and my family. Keep at it and make your day count. Enjoy your week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Clay, and I really appreciate your thoughts about making the days count. I’m struggling with that right now, so it’s a useful reminder.

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  4. I didn’t realize until I came back to this post that I hadn’t commented on it! I must have done it in my head!
    My son wrote his book review on Kite Runner this past Easter Sunday. The two of us relived the book and didn’t come away any less sad. Still it served its purpose in helping us learn, and the writing was so beautiful, that I’ll probably read more of his books.
    You’re good peeps, Lizzi. It’ll be people like you who keep this world from wrapping around itself in hatred. Love you. xo

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  5. I have read The Kite Runner. A long time ago. It was a fabulous, albeit difficult, book. Recently I have read a couple of other books, non-fiction, which detail lives in Nepal (Little Princes) and Afghanistan (The Dressmaker of Khair Khana). While the topics are horrifying, completely unimaginable from my cozy home in Indiana, these books are also uplifting. There are people out there doing fabulous work to combat the horrifying. Working within to make changes for as many people as possible. It’s inspiring. No, we can’t all head to foreign countries and risk life and limb to help, but it opens our eyes to the things we can do here in our own backyards to make change. Burying our heads in the sand is mighty tempting sometimes. Reading about so much suffering can be extremely overwhelming, but we can’t bury our heads. We just can’t. Focusing on the next one thing we can do, the next one person we can actually help, outshines the overwhelming feeling of the things we can’t.
    I highly recommend both books I mentioned. The folks in them had every reason to be overwhelmed by their surroundings and the challenges facing the people around them. But they didn’t bury their heads. They went out and did something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve also been told that 1000 Splendid Suns is a really good read (same author as The Kite Runner) so HOORAY for more things to read, and I think you’re right – we all can only do what we CAN do, starting where we are, in our own backyards. I guess it just behoves us to be thankful our backyards aren’t in war-torn areas, but ones with relative peace.

      You and WonderAunty have a lot of outlook in common, y’know 🙂

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  7. This, pretty much, is why I don’t internet as much as I used to. I can’t stand all the inhumanity, bigotry, hatred, and violence permeating our news casts. I’m tired. So effin’ tired of it all.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sometimes the abject cruelty in the world (whether it be towards man or beast) makes me despair. I just want to move to some isolated spot and bury myself in a hole until everything resolves and people learn to be kind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, I know, and I think there’s a lot in that, particularly in meditative practices, which seem to seek enlightenment, yet…don’t DO anything, just remove one more person from the mix and allows the rest to carry on 😦 We all need each other here.

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  9. I hadn’t realised you’d gone vegan Lizzi. There’s a lot of interesting info here. I’ve been vegetarian for over 30 years, and I knew some of the stuff you mention, but not all. Didn’t know about prawns for instance, but I did know that the same thing happens with other fish and that we’ve been over-fishing the seas for decades, so though I know many people who used to be vegetarian and now eat fish again, I’m not tempted to join them. (I did crave fish in my first pregnancy, and then had some seaweed and the craving went so I guess I needed iodine.) I am not vegan, but I am very fussy about where dairy products or eggs come from – mostly I get eggs from our local organic shop where I know the male chicks haven’t been shredded alive. it’s utterly horrifying to think that people would do that.
    One of my daughters read the Kite Runner at school a few years ago. It seemed a tough subject for a 15 year-old. I haven’t read it yet, and feel both that I want to and don’t want to – I understand you’re recommending to everyone and nobody.
    I also know what you mean about ignorance being bliss – there have been times when I’ve wished I didn’t know about some of the things I do so that I wouldn’t be faced with difficult choices. But ultimately choosing ignorance isn’t the same as the innocent ignorance of your nephew so I guess I wouldn’t go back to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right – choosing ignorance is remaining willfully uneducated and incapable of making conscientious choices. Innocence is different and I’m not looking forward to the day he loses his.

      Someone told me that chickens bond with their eggs, which makes sense, and they pine for them in much the same way as cows (or sheep, or whichever other beasts are being induced into milk) pine for their lost children. I heard from a colleague who used to work in farming, that often farmers will take the calves and shoot them at birth because there’s no profit in raising them. Probably especially the males.

      I still don’t know where I land on careful, free-range eggs. At the moment I’m erring on the side of not. I also found out things about honey production which were just shocking *sigh* The world is a messed up place.

      Glad the seaweed sorted you out. I guess it’s good to listen to our bodies and know what we can supplement for the ‘usual’ things we crave.

      The Kite Runner would have been HUGELY tough for a 15 y/o. It was bloody tough for this 32 y/o. I think on the whole I DO recommend it though, because it has SO many wonderful bits of humanity, as well.

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  10. Awareness is painful. Yes, we insulate ourselves from hard truths, because some of it is too much to bear.
    Even right on our own home turf – Americans don’t even care to think about simple basic truths, such as, the harsh life that most farm families have. We paint this idyllic picture of “farm life” in our minds, so we don’t have to think about people who work brutal, punishing 18 hour days just to put food on our tables.

    So we look away.

    People like you who write these things, you, and Gretchen Kelly, and others like you- you make the difference when you raise our awareness. That’s the first step. Thank you.

    Happy Easter, love. xoxoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love how you say…no one, ever and everyone, ever.
    That is a brilliant line about the state of our world, how we live and interact, and what we choose to learn, know, do.
    I have heard of that book but haven’t read it. Hmm.
    Your #LoveWins movement really should catch on. So much going on. My empathy threatens to overtake, but it’s nice to read a post like this, to know there are other people who are aware and hoping to make a difference.
    Sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Kerry, I really appreciate it…and yes, that book affected me really deeply. I hated reading it and also loved reading it, because it forced me to consider SO much that I take entirely for granted, and just a few of the many things I’ve remained ignorant of.

      I thoroughly recommend it, IF you can stomach never being able to look at the world the same way again.

      I HOPE #LoveWins catches on. I know it was previously used by the LGBT community whilst there was all the furore about allowing gay marriages in America, but I think it has a much wider scope.

      *HUGS*

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