By Lyn Rose
Going against tradition is like going against a killer tidal wave. But traditions are really just habits in disguise.
Discovering vegetarianism was like discovering the holy grail for us. We felt liberated and at the same time the world took on a clarity that we did not ever have prior to this.
Every time a new year comes around, it is traditional to celebrate with parties, maybe fireworks (gun shots?) and certainly with a toast for the new year. It is soon followed up with new year's resolutions and then everyone greets each other with a "happy new year.: Every year it is the same. In fact, every holiday is "celebrated" in the exact same way every year. The years come and go and we all obediently follow the calendar and the traditions.
Many years ago, when my husband and I realized that eating animals was not right, we could not have believed how significantly our lives had been changed for the better. It seemed unbelievable to us that we actually ate the chopped up parts of an animal whose life had been violently taken away. But we did eat animals because that was the way that we were taught by our parents, by our society.
Eating animals is such a major part of peoples' lives that the idea of not eating animals actually requires much thought, discussion and debate! Unfortunately, eating animals is a major part of the traditions in our societies. Going against tradition is like going against a killer tidal wave. But traditions are really just habits in disguise. Humans are notorious habit makers. We find something that works and we stick to it, even if that behavior is not really good for our physical, mental or spiritual self. It was incredibly shocking to my husband and I to find out that not eating animals can bring out reactions in people that we would never have anticipated. Our relatives were somewhat polite at first about our choice to not eat animal corpses. After the reality set in and they were sure that we would not be changing our minds and joining them in the massacre, I mean, the "meal," their remarks stepped up and our relationships with them could not help but to change.
Discovering vegetarianism was like discovering the holy grail for us. We felt liberated and at the same time the world took on a clarity that we did not ever have prior to this. We wanted to share that realization with everyone we knew and we did. Only thing is, this realization is in direct opposition with tradition. Our eagerness to share this incredible way of living was met with subtle if not outright nervous anger. This nervous anger comes from the "tradition" or habit of eating animals. People find security in things staying the way they are and so people are "traditionally" slow to change. But wouldn't it seem obvious that NOT participating in the brutality that animals experience would be a welcome change? I mean, we are talking about murderous acts. Isn't that a crime that people care about? They seem to talk a lot about "thou shall not kill" in churches. People still respect the Ten Commandments don't they?
A parents' worst nightmare is that harm comes to their child. A person's worst nightmare is that harm comes to them in the form of torture, rape or murder. Yet these nightmares are a "day in the life" for all animals that humans eat, wear and experiment on. Animal children are taken away from mothers and all animals to be eaten, worn or experimented on lose their life prematurely. It would seem reasonable that people would not want this to go on. But then that is assuming that people are reasonable.
The fact is, societies around the globe have animal murder at the very foundation of its economy. Politics doesn't care or make the brutality stop. Neither does religion or our legal system. No, animal brutality is left to be challenged and opposed by those people who see the crime for what it is. We can come together as Animal advocacy groups to voice our opposition to these crimes, but for some reason this discussion continues to be a debate! Unbelievably, people get loud and crazy that their right to eat murdered animals might being taken away. As if it could be taken away.
Still, we are amidst some really interesting times and much success has occurred on behalf of animals. The vegetarian discussion is actually getting much discussion time and the truth about where "meat" comes from is now accessible to anyone with a computer/dvd player, bookstore/library or a movie theatre. There are a lot of people in the world right now who know the truth about eating animals and do not support this truth. Once the truth about eating animals is out, all hidden crimes suddenly have neon lights around them. This is because eating animals is at the heart of all problems on this earth. War, racism, apartheid, rape, torture, kidnapping, pedophilia, etc. are all the close relatives of animal murder.
So, after one has not eaten animals for many years, the world becomes apparent and predictable. We go through the years, "celebrating" the "holidays" and the carnage goes on to the traditional beat. We will only be able to truthfully say "Happy New Year" when all animals can be included in this greeting and people truly strive for happiness for ALL living beings. Until then, there is much work to be done for animals (and thus people) and the greeting for the new year should instead be "Let's stop murdering animals so that we can ALL be happy". Because inevitably, once the crimes (traditions) against animals stop, the crimes (traditions) against humans will stop as well. At that point we could say with confidence: "Peace on Earth and good will to ALL living beings", followed with a truly honest "Happy New Year".
Total animal and human liberation WILL happen, it is just a matter of time and much change. To those of you who have permanently removed chopped up animal corpses from your shopping list, it is a great comfort to know that there are people like you in this world. With the new year, we will continue to keep our focus on the most abused victims on earth with a warmth in our hearts that you are also in this world doing the same.