The Extremes Of Disparity And Empathy - What's Fair?

>>  Sunday, December 11, 2011

Never before have I been so aware of living in a world of such extremes.  My husband and I were discussing this just yesterday, as we rode in the car through certain neighborhoods that have obvious economic disparities.  It's not uncommon for certain "high end" gated communities to be situated smack in the middle of homes that in comparison look like huts. There's one street I pass all the time - On the one side are modest homes; Reasonably maintained for sure.  But they are obviously in the ranks of lower middle income.  These homes are a shelter for simpler folks, in between the time they aren't out working to keep that roof over their heads... You know the sort.  You probably live in one of these homes yourself - I do.

On the opposite side of this road with it's row of frugal homes are the 100 yard bricked driveways that lead to the 8 and 10 bedroom castles. The acreage is impeccably manicured with lawns that mimic a golf course.   It's hard to call them homes... The arched doors at the entry are grand scale for sure... Some could accommodate the passage of a semi-truck. These monoliths  come with all the essentials: heated pools, tennis courts 5 car garages - And oh... The most important thing of all: 24 hour security, lest any of the riff-raff wonder on the grounds.  Yeah... The contrasts on this street are really in your face.

But there are many other things I see in my conflicting worlds... The seemingly kind woman in the grocery line with her buggy filled with cheeses, eggs and a leg of lamb.  The car with a dog in the back seat, waiting in line at a burger joint.   The attentive new mother giving her infant a bottle of cow's milk for nourishment.  The sweet teen wearing a fur trimmed jacket. Yep, the extremes are around me all the time.

They're especially easy to find on the internet as well as is the case of these stories:

You might have heard about the Tennessee family home that burned while firefighters watched.  The photo shows this was "just" a mobile home --- But it was all these folks had.

Position that next to this video released by SHARK showing a pigeon struggling for his life. Just a little bird's life --- But it was all he had.

Empathy for others seem to have it's limits... And extremes.  Take for instance this story about Calcutta patients who were abandoned in a hospital as flames engulfed the building. 89 people died. 

And then there's this recent study that showed rats would disregard chocolate treats in order to free their cage mates.  The article says they show "human like" empathy.  Keeping the stories above in mind... And the distinctions between the haves and have-nots.... I don't know that I'd want to insult the rats in such a way as this.

Who's worth what... Who lives and who dies... Who's life has meaning- It may be extreme to say that everyone matters.  But I'll take my chances in wanting things to be fair:

As Tom Regan said “But I am an extremist when it comes to rape — I am against it all the time. I am an extremist when it comes to child abuse — I am against it all the time. I am an extremist when it comes to sexual discrimination, racial discrimination — I am against it all the time. I am an extremist when it comes to abuse to the elderly — I am against it all the time.”

Please live a life of extreme kindness - Go Vegan


CQ December 11, 2011 at 8:18 AM  

I have a feeling Tom Regan, at some point in his justice-to-animals journey, must have also said something like: "I am an extremist when it comes to exploiting and abusing animals -- I am against it all the time."

Tom made his always-humble "extremist" (meaning normal to those who assign dignity to animals) views clear in a wonderful interview he did last spring:

Tom's list of "againsts" reminds me of MLK Jr.'s remarks on "extremism" in his famous April 16, 1963, letter to fellow clergymen, penned in the Birmingham jail:

As always, Bea, thanks for airing obvious truths in a way that conjures up the slogan "I could've had a V-8": I should of thought of that. Yeah.

veganelder December 14, 2011 at 5:34 AM  

I grew up in a relatively "poor" family. I saw that my father worked hard and long...even when I was a child I began to apprehend that what people have has little to do with how hard they work...I began to appreciate the sheer randomness of western human society's "distribution of wealth". It is sad to watch the lie of the attribution of virtue to those who have much.

Unless and until humans help to fashion a world where all are cared for and all are valued....whether human animal or not then we have little virtue to call our matter how effectively we exploit and destroy and steal.

Bea Elliott December 16, 2011 at 3:57 AM  

Hi CQ - But of course... Tom (empty the cages) Regan surely clarified and extended his "extremeist" position to the nonhumans as well.

And thanks for both the links... Yes, they do tie-in and solidify the points made against all oppressions. How the rest of the world condones, tolerates and promotes them --- Baffels me more each day. :(

Bea Elliott December 16, 2011 at 4:41 AM  

Hello veganelder - I was (am) relatively "poor" too - Only I didn't know it. It goes to show how when you're younger it's not necessarily the material wealth that makes or breaks happiness. That only comes later with social indoctrinations and the possession of "stuff" as status.

You mentioned your father working very hard... I notice quite often at these "rancher" sites how they always proclaim the 24 hour jobs they have as if the rest of the world was eating bon-bons round the clock. It's very annoying. Both my husband and I did extensive physical labor for a few decades - 7 days a week! And I come from a family who did the same... And so did he... And most of the folks I know labored so hard that their bodies are worn-out way before due time. None of us got rich - All are still struggling to stay ahead.

But what about these ranchers/farmers in comparison? "The U.S. Department of Agriculture said this week that it expects American farmers' net income to rise to $100.9 billion, up nearly 30 percent from last year, reaffirming the bright spot that agriculture represents in an otherwise gloomy global economy." And: "Strong demand from overseas — and a growing appetite for meat among newly middle-class Chinese — are helping fuel a record high export figure of $137.4 billion, continuing U.S. agriculture's year-over-year trade surplus."

Meat is cheap: Hire a majority of "undocumented workers" to run the "farms" and work the slaughterhouses... Move all other manufacturing off shore - Then supply the new "rich" there with flesh. The slave trade has obviously been good for some.

I'm with you- I cannot possibly get more disgusted with the way our system destroys, exploits, steals... And murders! Wall Street runs on blood!