Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Choosing Your Battles

Anna and I were at a playground this morning. We were the only ones there, since it's cold outside and everything was wet. I wiped down a swing with her snot-rag. She loves swinging.

These two boys (about 10 and 7) walked over to the jungle-gym part of the playground and the younger kid said he was going to slide down the big slide even though it's wet. To which the older kid responded, "Don't do it, you faggot."

I couldn't believe my ears. It's 2007! In Minnesota! After a few seconds I piped up, "Hey, what did you just say?" He glanced in my direction and then walked away. So I said, "That's not a good word to use. Ever."

Man, it really got me riled up. It may not seem like it from what I said. I mean, I could have said a lot more. But I usually keep to myself. I'm not too outspoken around people I don't know (unless you count the things I say on the internet).

So it got me thinking. I said what I said because I believe it's a moral issue and that I am in the right. Under no circumstances should a child be called that word. It is damaging both to the child and to the GLBT community as a whole. It's tantamount to a racial slur.

The root of my veganism is moral (not like "you're going to hell" moral, but more like "it's wrong to stab people" moral). I think it's immoral to treat animals the way they are treated. It doesn't have to happen. Humans can live just fine without the suffering of billions of sentient beings. So why did I scold this 10 year old kid when he dropped the f-bomb, but I don't run around chastising everyone I see who eats meat?

Because I'm a willing member of society. If I let my sub-conscious (and sometimes very conscious) internal monologue become an external dialogue every time I saw someone eating meat, milk, cheese, or eggs no one would listen to me. I'd have very few friends and very few family members that would ever want to talk to me.

The fact is, equal rights and equal treatment of people in the LGBT community is not too far away. Any decade now... But it's still "out there" to be vegan. Veganism will not be approaching the social norm for a looooong time (though I do honestly believe that some day it will, if we don't blow ourselves up first). And I definitely won't be helping veganism approach the social norm by causing a scene every time I see someone eating or wearing an animal. Also, if I did that, it would be pretty much all I ever do.

I'm still going to advocate for veganism. I'm going to answer questions honestly and at times I'll offer facts and figures even when they're not asked for. But I'm not going to scold a ten year old boy for eating string cheese.

I'm trying to find a way to end this post, but I can't seem to wrap it up. So I'll end with a completely unrelated link.

Go here.


Mark said...

I love passionate people. I'm looking forward to reading more epic posts from someone with a bead on the human experience.

Corey said...

I have to admit--when I was growing up, it was completely normal to use that word as a slang insult, along with "gay." In highschool one of my good friends was gay and enlightened me that it's pretty offensive to use what he is as an insult. People just don't think about that stuff. Today, I couldn't say that word if you forced me--it's right up there with the n word. It's completely embarassing that I used those words in such a manner up through highschool, but it's just like meat-eating--everybody else does it and nobody opposes it--so where's the problem?

I'm a grad student in Sociology now and a vegan of 7 years, btw!