Every time I log onto Facebook, I feel like there’s yet another cause that I agree with. There’s so many things wrong with the world, how do you make a choice?
Let me give you an example.
I grew up vegetarian, and I continue to remain so. I suppose it was originally a religious requirement – people from my community don’t eat meat so I was not introduced to it as a child. For a brief period of about a year or two, I ate chicken. I don’t remember how it happened, or who introduced me to it, but I tried it and ate it for a few years. I was about 8-9 years old at the time (or maybe slightly older). At that time I didn’t really have a conception as to what “eating chicken” really meant. A few years later, I realized that it involved actual birds and that’s when I stopped altogether. Since then I’ve never gone back and I don’t see myself doing so in the future.
I used to light lots of fire-crackers during Deepavali as a kid, but growing up, I realized what a toll they cause on the environment, as well as the conditions that children who manufacture them live in. Its been quite a few years since I lit crackers. These days, Deepavali is spent by lighting up the house with diyas and drawing kolams.
But… I’m not vegan. I use leather products as well as dairy. I don’t really like the idea of fashioning animal skin into products, but it is difficult to get over the convenience of it. Living in frigid Boston, I own half a dozen woolen sweaters and coats. I presume alternatives are available but I’ve never tried them. Down jackets are extremely popular in cold weather conditions here – these are jackets made of polyester, where the inside is filled with duck/goose feathers. Recently an article about the torture involved in obtaining the feathers was detailed, with so many people swearing off wearing down jackets and buying down quilts. Last week, I watched a video about the torture that cows in the dairy industry go through. The video ends requesting people to stop consuming dairy products.
This is really driving me crazy. There are so many things that I disagree with, so many products whose manufacturing process I don’t like, but where do you draw the line? If I were to stop using woolen sweaters/jackets, presumably I would have to purchase something made of synthetic materials- but what about the harm that these products cause to the environment? Not to mention that they are not biodegradable and we’re just filling the world’s landfills. What about products that are manufactured without causing anyone harm? Is there even such a thing? Take rice, for example. Presumably grown without causing harm to any animal. But what about the laborers who work on these fields, those who are paid peanuts for a long day’s work? What of the farmer who committed suicide because he couldn’t pay his debts. What if the wheat that you consume came from his farm?
Just thinking about it makes my head spin and makes me believe that human beings are such evil characters. I would love to change so many things, but so much of it is inconvenient (and in some cases, so expensive). I will freely admit that I don’t believe I am either disciplined or principled enough to give up so many of the things I disagree with. My highest respects to those who do manage to live up to these ideals!
In a perfect world, wool and milk (and other animal by-products) would be obtained without hurting the animal. Produce would be grown and products manufactured in environmentally safe and sustainable methods, with all persons involved in the process treated fairly. But until we get to such a point (assuming that we even do), I’m going to pick a couple of things I agree with and that I can implement, and go with those. Because worrying about all the things wrong with the world will drive me crazy.