<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Whose Fault is it? 

While everyone is busy pointing fingers at everyone else about whose fault 9/11 was, I think that it is worthwhile to examine just how much of that is our fault as members of society here in America. Before you start to send that piece of hate-mail to me, take a couple of deep breaths, open your mind a minute and listen to what I have to say about this and why I say it. (You can still send it after you hear me out, but you better think up some really good arguments, not just repeat the same old propaganda the president spews out every day to get you to go along with his failed policies.)

First off, we need to ask the question, "Why do they hate us?"

Now, instead of listening to the administration's propaganda and lame explanations, we need to really look at what they are so upset about in order to figure out the answer to this question. This is not really about assigning blame. What good does that do, except for politicians looking to get elected? No, we need to ask this question to determine what each of us could do differently in the future to try to assure that nothing like that ever happens again. What do they hate about us?

Our society - our culture - puts an emphasis on material goods. Success is defined by how much money you make, what kind of house you live in, what clothes you wear, what school your kids go to, what kind of job you have, etc. We hear about how wonderful, and even crucial, our continued economic growth is. Why is that? No, really. Why???

What's wrong with living a simple life, consuming no more than what you really need? What's wrong with making moral choices when we shop, buying only those goods raised in a respectable, sustainable way? Why do we sideline those who do, calling them extremists, or even worse - terrorists?

The people in impoverished countries are upset with us. And for good reason. They have a right to be.

Now, calm down and let me finish.

Far too many of us wrap ourselves in the flag and say, "But I have a right to buy what I want, eat what I want, say what I want, do what I want, etc."

Do you? Do you really? Who gave you that right? And at what cost does that right come?

Now, I'm not saying that we should not be free to make our own decisions. What I am saying is that with that privilege of free will also comes great responsibility. If you make the right decisions, then there are rewards, but when you make the wrong ones, there are consequences. Sure, you are free to make the wrong decisions, but then you are also free to accept the consequences for those decisions. We must learn from our mistakes, or we are doomed to repeat them.

Now, some of you may be wondering why I am talking about 9/11 on an environmental/animal rights blog. Well, I'll tell you.

It's because all of this goes hand-in-hand. Now, this may seem like a shocking new concept to some of you (yes, I'm being just a bit sarcastic), but each one of us does bear a certain responsibility for the choices we make in our lives. Even the seemingly small choices we make every day as we go about our busy lives.

What kind of car do you drive? Do you have more than one? What kind of house do you live in? Do you have more than one of those? Do you buy disposable products? Do you buy and consume meat? Dairy? Eggs? Organic food? Do you recycle? Paper or plastic, or do you bring your own reusable bag for your groceries? Toxic cleansers and pesticides? Single-serve packaging? Fast food? I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Now, ask yourself, "Why?" after you ask yourself each one of those questions.

Now, I want you to think about - REALLY think about - how much of that you really NEED. Think about what you think you really need for your own survival.

Now, re-examine that. Do you really need all of those things? Really?

There are billions of people who don't have those things, but they survive anyway. There are billions that don't have enough food, clean water, proper shelter, health care, etc. They can't feed themselves or their children.

Do they have the right to be envious of us and angry at us? What if you found out that the things that you take for granted come at the expense of those people?

Now, ask yourself, "Do you care?"

Well, you should. It's not "giving in to terrorists" when you bring yourself to care about these things or when you ask yourself what they are really upset about. I mean, how desperate does someone have to be to decide that their best course of action is to blow themselves up???

And, when you find so many people that feel this way, doesn't it beg the question of, "Why??????"

They don't hate our freedom, like the administration would have you believe. They hate what we choose to do with that freedom. And, rightly so, when it comes at their expense.

The human population is already too big a burden for this planet to sustain comfortably. And, it gets worse every single day. Have you read the many articles and stories the scientists have written on this and what the consequences are going to be for our children and grandchildren, even for ourselves? It's not alarmist - it's very true. It's very real.

Do you not care about this? If so, what choices are you making every day to offset the damage your survival does to the planet by consuming precious natural resources? Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution? Really? How hard do you work at leaving as small a footprint as possible on this Earth? Think about that really hard before you answer. And be honest with yourself about it. You can't lie to yourself. You know the truth, whatever you may choose to tell others.

There is a signature that one of my friends uses on the bottom of her emails that I want you to think about:

A mere 10% reduction in meat consumption by Americans would free up enough land to grow 12 million tons of grain – enough to save the 20 million people who starve to death on our planet each year.

10% - is that to much to ask? Do you really have the "right" to eat that hamburger, knowing that it may keep a child from being able to eat anything at all today? Especally when you don't need it?

That's what this post is really about.

Now, imagine if you were to have to switch places with the mother or father of that child. Imagine how you would feel watching your child slowly starve to death while someone on the other side of the world scarfs down a fast food dinner because they think they have the "right" to do so. Would you not be at least a little bit upset? Would you not be angry? Frustrated?

Now, imagine that you work hard in the fields every day, growing grain that could help to feed your family, but instead your government takes that grain and exports it to a richer country for them to feed their cows so that their citizens can eat those fast food burgers. Wouldn't you just seethe with anger at the unfairness of it all? Would you care about someone else's "right" to buy and eat what they want? What lengths would you go to in order to call attention to your plight?

What if a richer, more powerful country was coming to take the natural resources you depend on to survive so that they could engage in their "rightful" pursuit of "happiness" - driving luxurious cars, building huge houses with hot tubs, eating fast food, going to circuses and zoos, riding 4-wheelers, or other unnecessary-for-survival activities? Their unhealthy and unsustainable desire for more, more, MORE!!!! At your expense...

If you are reading this, then you aren't one of the unfortunate billions that will go to bed hungry tonight, worrying about how you are going to feed your growing family. You aren't living in an overcrowded hut, drinking water full of disease, watching your children starve while others get rich. You have a decent place to live, electricity, food in your belly, clean water to drink, clothes on your back, etc. You are comfortable and content and busy going about your life in freedom, with all the rights you have ascribed to yourself.

There is a deeper message in the Christian rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Or the Wiccan rede, "And ye do no harm, do what thou will." We say these things, but do we live them? Really?

Some people are starting to realize this. They are taking steps to live in harmony with Nature, using no more than they really need, trying their best not to infringe on the rights of others in their quest for survival. They are not extremists. They are realists. And they are quite aware of the cost of their own survival. They seek to reduce that cost and bring awareness to the rest of the public as to what that cost really is. They are caring, responsible citizens of the world that realize that with the privilege of freedom, comes great responsiblity. The more freedom you have, the more responsiblity you must show when you exercise that freedom.

We need to climb down off our high horses and actually reach out to those less fortunate. Instead of dropping bombs on them, calling them names, justifying our actions, we need to ask them how our lifestyle is hurting them and what we can do to help make their lives better so that they don't feel desperate enough to blow themselves up to get our attention.

They have our attention. It doesn't really matter whose fault it ultimately is. Not really. It's not any one person's fault.

Because the fault lies with all of us.

Now, what are you personally going to do about it? And, will you start today? Right now? Why or why not?

Be properly grateful for what you have because it comes at great cost to someone else. Probably a whole lot of someone elses.

The cow/pig/chicken/fish you eat, the worker you exploit, the rainforest you destroy, the global warming you create, the child you starve. You are supporting these practices when you purchase some products, so you are responsible for the those actions. It's not just the corporations at fault - it's also the fault of the consumers that keep them in business when they buy their products. You are also responsible for the vote you cast (or don't cast). Because we also make choices when we don't do something. Not doing something to help is the same as doing something that hurts.

Think about that when you look at everyone pointing fingers.

Get up and go look in the mirror and ask yourself how much of it is your fault.
Really. Go on, do it. I dare you. I dare you to look that hard and long and deeply at your own self, your choices, your lifestyle.

Whose fault is it?
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