At the supermarket you are presented with an array of nice, clean-looking meats. However, the shopping experience is completely divorced from the production process of these meats. Of course we are vaguely aware that meat is produced from the slaughter of animals, but the details of how those animals are raised, fed, and killed are abstracted away. Even the butchering of the meat is usually performed in a back-room that is out of sight from the shopper.
The result is that few people make any connection between the purchase of a small cutlet at the store and the ethical questions surrounding the process of how that cutlet came to be. It is similar to how few people make any connection between their support of government and the evil that results from government.
I am not a vegetarian, and I am not going to ask you to become one. I would ask only that you consider this question, of what processes and practices you support through your purchases. Have you been to a production farm or at least seen documentation of one? Are the practices performed there ones you agree with and would be (morally) willing to perform yourself?
When I ask these questions of myself, I find that I would not be morally willing to treat animals the way they are treated at production farms. If I would not treat them that way, why should I pay others to do so? The evil that results is the same, whether I do it myself or support others in doing so.
As a result, I have begun eating less meat. I used to eat a sandwich with cold cuts in it every day for lunch, but a month ago I switched to a lettuce / tomato /mayonaisse sandwich, with a side of cashew nuts. I've found this lunch to be not only guilt-free, but also tastier, more healthful, and it leaves me feeling physically better in the afternoon than those slabs of salami and turkey did.
I still eat some meat. When we buy it, I am encouraging my household to purchase it from Whole Foods. Eventually I would like to buy it more directly from farms so I can point out into a field and tell my sons: that is where our food comes from, and this is how it comes to our plates.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The decision to enforce a law is necessarily also a decision to use the threat of force on someone. Even more significantly, it is also a decision to escalate the use of force if resistance is met. As a result, the most minor infraction can result in severe punishment, and even death, if one persistently resists. We all know this instinctively when we see those blue lights flashing behind us, and we pull over to put ourselves at the mercy of a government law enforcer.
The greatest illusion that pro-government people wish to maintain is that the government is a voluntary endeavor we all enter into. This is why non-violent resistance is so damaging to them; it makes explicit the true violent nature of government. Witness the following video of a Keene, NH man sentenced to sit in a cage for half a year:
His original "crime" was apparently a minor traffic violation (running a stop sign).
I feel sad watching this video. I also admire Kurt for his strength in standing up for himself, and I hope many people see this video.
I know many people will respond to this video by dismissing Kurt's actions as "stupid". Surely he knew the consequences of even the meager resistance he was displaying (trying to have an actual conversation with the judge). This type of blame-the-victim response strikes me as similar to the government law enforcer's (at 3:57) when Kurt complains that he is being put in pain. He says "No, you're putting yourself in pain."