9-11 Thoughts on Heroes and Heretics

>>  Saturday, September 11, 2010

On September 11th, I am reminded that our culture worships heroes.  And to follow through with an idea I expressed in my last post, I was thinking this through as well...  

Isn't it ironic how fickle hero worship can be?  Consider this... All the ancient fables and tales told of individuals who battled an obstacle to the point where it consumed defined their lives.  Hercules, Moses, King Arthur, Joan of Arc, El Cid, Margaret Sanger, William Lloyd Garrison, the list goes on and on.  And even in modern fictional characters there are stories and movies like High Noon, 12 Angry Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Fountainhead, Shane and countless others who's main theme was the hero against the masses.  These larger than life heroes were immortalized by Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and others.  Be it in legend, on silver screen or in history we are drawn to characters who embody the virtues of independent thinking.  We value those one individuals who passionately stand against the mob.  Those who rise above the group, many times armed with only their reasoning ability. They are heroic because they make their own way guided by their own beliefs, always against incredible odds.  

In many respects, those who have chosen a vegan path do this every day.  It is reflected in their decisions of what to eat, wear and how to live in a world entrenched in the very ideolgy that they rightfully discredit.... They stand alone against a world that exists thoughtlessly while every aspect of their word and deed is a manifestation of their independently thought conclusions.  Vegans are motivated to action even though they may be "the only one" to do so.  In fact, they stand alone against a world that even ridicules them for their attempt at dedicated consistency.  All the while the dissonant refuse to examine institutionalized cruelty and malice from ignorance.

For most vegans, this conflict exists in their relationships both personal and professional.  Yet vegans are living their truth despite incredible resistance.  It is not the chosen lifestyle that is difficult, but rather the hostility encountered is what requires great effort to endure.  But still, they are not overwhelmed.  They persevere despite adversity.  Is this not something worthy of praise?  Many animal rights activists alter their lives to change the status quo - to transform a brutal culture - Nonviolently, no less... Is this goal not one that deserves accolades? I certainly think so!

But because the victims that activists champion for are nonhumans none of this truth seems to matter. It's strange that challenging oppression to the most used, most ignored, most oppressed, most institutionally harmed victims warrants a tag of "heretic" rather than hero. But then... Imagine trying to subdue an unthinking mob with nothing but the "weapon" of words and reason... These are the animal advocates who would be named as "terrorists" along with those who have committed the most murderous acts.

So on 9-11 I'm sending out my own thoughts to heroes of mine... Those who stand against group think... Those who live their lives rationally and with a sense of fair play.  Those who change the world every day for the better by the simple acts of kindness and extending consideration to All who benefit from such... To those who are invisible to society... The sow in gestation crate #482, the dairy cow whose baby has been taken, the hen who has never seen sunlight, the breeder dog at the mill, the mouse housed in the lab, the buck wounded and still running, the elephant in chains, the polar bear fighting for his life without ice, the horse pulling a carriage in a sweltering city street, the ape warehoused for his eternal days, the dolphin struggling to escape a slaughter....  The lowly frog who in their eyes has a right to their beingness without sacrifice to a mightier "intelligence".

Maybe it's blasphemous to state it here today... But I do.  To all vegans who stand against these "norms" I am inspired by you!  I am acknowledging your battles and proclaiming that I stand by you.  That I won't be silenced either. And that you all are heroes to me.  Press on!