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Vegetable Soup for the Soul

 - A Vegan Way of Life -
Article #6 - Rearranging our Thinking Cap
By: Billie Touchstone Signer
billiesigner@alltel.net

In school, the teacher told us to put on our thinking caps when she wanted us to really concentrate.  If we had the answer wrong, she might say, “you have your thinking cap on wrong or backward.”

The brain is a wonderful thing, so complex and mysterious.  Inside that awesome brain is our thinking process or thinking cap.  What a misuse of that wonderful organ when we think nothing of raising, killing and eating the flesh of our brothers and sisters, the animals; or when we don‘t bother to even suspect what this practice is doing to our planet and to our health.  Yes, the old thinking cap is on all crooked and needs straightening.

How can that be done?  I think first, that one must have a healthy and wide awake conscience.  Certainly, everyone has a conscience, but very often, it’s like our thinking cap; it’s either warped or sleeping.  Thankfully, it can be repaired, awakened and rearranged to think along the path our Creator certainly must have intended.

Nowhere in my wildest imagination can I conceive that our gentle Jesus wishes us to harm any of his creatures, the planet or the temples for our soul, the body.  He loves us entirely too much for that.  He died a horrible death so that we might have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.  So surely, He expects us to work hard to take care of the planet, our bodies and all His sinless creatures.

God does His part even when we don’t bother doing our part.  You know why?  Because He can never stop loving us.  So he nags our conscience to get busy and do something about this horrendous practice of brutality and insensitivity toward His creation.

For eons of times, eating the flesh of animals seemed the thing to do.  Today, many well-intentioned folks say without thinking, “why else were they put on earth if not to eat?  Truly, we need to rearrange our thinking caps.  Better still, we need to reflect on empathy.

Empathy is like crawling inside another of God’s creatures, human and non-human, and try to experience how they might feel.  So often, the fate of “food” animals is in our hands.  Or to say the least, we can help their horrible fate by not eating their flesh, not pay for them to entertain us, not allow them to be experimented on, nor wear their fur/skin.

Someone said, “I don’t hurt or kill animals.”  To which I quickly reply, “But you hire someone else to when you buy and eat their flesh, or do any or all of the above.”  If there’s no market, then misery, exploitation and murder will lessen and finally cease.  Hard to believe?  Yes, it is, but it’s possible and very likely.  The reason: Caring people everywhere are working tirelessly to stop this cruelty of the helpless.

Some have a difficult time practicing empathy.  But once it’s tried, the next time is quite easy.  Soon it will become a habit to be sensitive not only to animals but humans, too.  Practicing empathy results in a good and caring heart.  A heart that wishes and strives for good for all God’s creatures.

Then there is apathy.  Believe me, unless we walk in another’s shoes or crawl inside to try and understand how they might feel, we cannot experience a good heart.  This usually results in apathy.  An apathetic person is void of feeling for something or someone.  Actually, he seems not to care a tinker’s dime for anyone or anything.  A sad and self-centered person indeed.

I am acquainted with many people who are considered “good” but who do not seem to have a good heart.  One can go to church every day and twice on Sunday, tithe one-tenth, read scripture print right off the page and still not have a good heart.  I recently heard a priest say in his homily that it’s not good people who go to heaven.  It’s the holy people who work to serve Him by serving others who ultimately have that glorious eternal life.  I think we can never be “good” enough to earn heaven, but striving in every way for sanctity is the beginning of reaching the kingdom of God.

Good is opposite of bad.  Right?  If that’s the case, does being good just mean not being bad?  But where is the action?  I’ve heard people say, “I’m a good person, I don’t break the commandments, etc.”  But what action does this “good” person take to help alleviate pain and suffering of his brothers and sisters, both human and nonhuman?  Could he maybe speak out against the injustice of abortion, the death penalty, the cruelty and murder of God’s innocents, destruction of our rain forests and natural habitat of animals?  No?  Well, then could he maybe write some letters or witness for Jesus by standing up for those who cannot help themselves?  None of the above?  Then surely he could donate money for the agencies that are fighting against these horrific actions.  Does he care at all that the steak on his plate is a body part of one of God’s sentient creatures that wanted to live as much as he?  No?

So, is that person truly “good” or just not “bad“ in today’s “culture of death” society?  Another thinking cap adjustment is needed here.  The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25 comes to mind.

Being vegan often leads me down a lonely path, but a peaceful path.  I am at peace because I know I AM TRYING VERY HARD TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT AND I BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS PLEASED WITH MY EFFORTS.

As stated in earlier articles, I have been a vegan all my life in my heart, but didn’t have the courage until a few years ago to stick with it for fear my family and friends might think me “weird.“  This is no longer the case.  I prayed to the Holy Spirit to give me the courage to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and to fight against any and all injustices.  AND HE DID AND HAS AND DOES EACH DAY!

I often think of St. Paul’s conversion when I reflect on thinking caps.  For so long, he was truly acting wicked when he held the Roman soldiers’ coats while they stoned Christians to death.  But God had other plans for him.  He turned his thinking cap all the way around and caused him to have a good heart and the fire within to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ!

I certainly can’t compare my own “conversion” to St. Paul’s but it was impressive.  It has changed every aspect of my very life.  It was almost like little windows had opened in my brain to let in the new gusts of fresh air of love and compassion for all living creatures.  I’d always considered myself somewhat compassionate and kind, but never with such drive and energy once my thinking cap did an about face.  I give the credit to the Holy Spirit.  I asked and He delivered.

My thinking cap is now on perfectly straight. I will use this new energy and fire to spread the need to rearrange other “caps” around me to know in their hearts that it is intrinsically evil to treat these sentient creatures with such indifference and cruelty.  They are not ours to eat, to wear, to experiment on, to use for entertainment, or to exploit.  God created them for their own purpose, NOT OURS!

Article #7 The Milk of Human Kindness

Copyrighted as a collection by Billie Touchstone Signer

To respond to the series: billiesigner@alltel.net or P. O. Box 365, Jasper, AR 72641-0365

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