Thursday, May 12, 2011

When I Know Better I Do Better

A few days ago, I came across a free online movie and after watching as much as I was emotionally capable of watching, I posted the link on my facebook page.

Earthlings Website to watch Movie for Free

From their site: 

"EARTHLINGS is a powerful and informative documentary about society’s treatment of animals, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with soundtrack by Moby. This multi-award winning film by Nation Earth is a must-see for anyone who cares about animals or wishes to make the world a better place."

This is not a fun movie.  It's doubtful that many can watch this and leave feeling especially good or upbeatAlso, in the spirit of full disclosure and honesty, I want to clearly state that I am not a vegetarian nor a vegan nor does adhering to a vegan diet appear to be the healthiest choice for my own body type/biochemical individuality.  I am working on my thesis towards my certification as a holistic nutrition consultant and educator and am not suggesting that everyone on the planet adopt one particular way of eating or living.  My studies, along with my own personal journey around health, food, diet, and nutrition, have helped me to increase my awareness and form more educated opinions; however, I realize that we each have our own journeys to follow. 

For me, my mantra is simply:
When I know better, I do better.

 After posting the Earthlings movie link, comments followed ranging from making light of the movie and possibly suggesting the makers had an agenda to only "bash" the "bad" animal owners (or eaters or wearers) to simply being so sickened by the entire subject matter that they couldn't even make it through the movie trailer.  Regarding the one commenter who seemed to make light of the posting, suggesting, tongue-in-cheek I'm sure, a sequel to the movie showing graphic kindness to animals, my reply was that I felt he was missing the point and needed to acknowledge that these evils do exist here on planet Earth and rather than get defensive or flippant about the subject, perhaps gleaming some awareness and knowledge about the ugly truths that exist can lead to some positive changes. 

My response was as follows (names omitted to protect anonymity):
"Perhaps you need to ask yourself..what are YOU doing to support treating animals with respect? Do you eat out much? What criteria do you use before choosing where to eat...price, quality, sourcing of food? (Cakes and Ale, Miller Union, Sprig Restaurant..ALL places who serve as much local organic food as possible..their prices are pretty much in line with most steakhouses and the meats are generally grass fed. Farm Burger serves only grass fed animal products..a burger is $7 and up, approx...would you spend $10-$15 on a burger or would you sooner buy a cheaper burger regardless of the source to save $$??)

You ask about the "sequel" yet your comment fails to even acknowledge the problem. What is the percentage of meat that you eat that IS humanely raised? 0%? 5%? 50%? I would think that the cruelty is so prevalent that there is much more out there showing that aspect than of your "graphic kindness to animals" reference.

Yes, there IS kindness to animals too...unfortunately many people would rather remain ignorant to the truth and make jokes or stick their heads in the sand.

Again, I am not preaching veganism nor vegetarianism. I have been and am sure I still am part of the problem at times. I am simply urging people to BE AWARE and then act with knowledge and a conscious.

And by the way...many vegans are eating crap, processed, sugary, junk foods which ALSO add to the problem...Staying and getting sick is also a problem...creates the need for more drugs which in turn leads to animal testing and cruelty as well. All the soy that many vegans and vegetarians consume is horrible for our health too..genetically modified crops are doing unknown damage to our planet and its "earthlings"...

Knowledge is power. When we know better we (should) do better."

A good friend of mine made an excellent point:
"this film exists because people do not want to pay attention,the trailor is so profoundly heartbreaking that if everybody actually watched it, and allowed themselves to feel the horror, these practices could no longer is our c...omplacency that has created this shameful nightmare...I agree with you Lisa, and do my very best to buy humanely raised meat, but it is also very hard to know for sure. We stopped eating red-meat-mammals a few years ago because I couldn't be sure..."

The movie covered many more subjects than simply what we are eating.  It approached animals in general, including the human ones...all of us inhabitants of the Earth:  Earthlings...and how we treat one another..from the homeless animal situation to how we get leather...factory farming was just one of many parts the movie touched upon.

On my facebook page, I also included a link to an article about a "good slaughter":

I actually severed a friendship as a result of that posting from a friend who failed to see my point, which was to punctuate the difference in how a factory farm animal is so inhumanely raised and slaughtered, versus a more humane, in my opinion, way to end an animal's life...a way that minimizes the pain and suffering.  He not only vilified slaughtering any animal for consumption...which, to be honest, I certainly understand that point of view and do not personally embrace the idea that I eat, though minimally, some animal sources of food...but he also vilified people who were not vegetarians as well. However, he had no problem with consuming factory farmed dairy products, citing religious reasons, and he refused to acknowledge that most dairy cows live short, miserable, cramped lives hooked up to machines while the males end up becoming veal since they are not needed. 

One of my favorite comments was this one:
"Kudos for a "change in consciousness!" We all gotta start somewhere! And that link rocks. You can find a CSA, there, too. ☼"

Basically, we all have effects to others around us, humans and non-humans. And it's a fact that cruelty exists in the world and it probably is not going to cease to exist in this moment.  However, being open to possibilities, becoming educated, aware, and proactive, can all lead to positive change.  It may be tiny baby steps...just pick something..anything...that you are willing to do that can be an act of kindness, fairness, compassion.  I have one friend who volunteers at animal shelters.  I have many friends who are strictly vegetarian and/or vegan, some who only allow themselves to eat fish, and still others who not only hock family heirlooms to pay for surgeries for rescue dogs, but also avoid eating or wearing any animal products.

Me? I have three rescue animals and avoid factory farmed animal products.  I eat a predominantly plant based diet and I work at knowing where my food comes from...I do not eat fast food and eat out rarely.  I do what I am willing to do for now and as I learn more and become more mindful and aware, I'm sure what I am willing to do to make a difference, ever so small, will change.

What can you do NOW to be part of the SOULution?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Speculations, Conspiracies, Doubts, and Judgments

Wow.  What a week...or month..or two!  From the earthquakes and radiation, the tornadoes that ravished through the southeast, killing so many in their path to the shocking turn in world events regarding Osama Bin Laden...add that to the myriad of issues that seem to me to be increasingly polarizing...the environment, the economy, human rights, workers' rights, politics, health, what we eat, products we buy, and yes, even the most recent royal wedding..the list goes on.  Even subjects like yoga, a practice that has evolved from a casual interest in my life to a passion and vocation, have become controversial, evoking conflicting opinions from what is the "best" or "correct" styles to religious and dogmatic implications

I find myself, in my mid-forties-quickly-sliding-closer-to-fifty, realizing that so little is a "given" in this matter what I may have thought for the past forty-plus years.  Once again I am reminded:  "the older I get, the more I know the less I know"...and you can correctly quote ME on that. 

Living in the metro Atlanta area and mercifully spared from the destruction of the storms last week, I personally felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and perspective mixed with sympathy and sorrow.  Only an hour or so north of my home, tornadoes ripped through towns and flattening all it their path.  Such a close felt as if we dodged a huge bullet..and we did.  Many of my close friends and I rode an emotional roller coaster ride that evening, preparing for the worse, hoping for the best, and watching the weather reports until we felt it was safe to finally go to sleep without fear of a twister ripping through our homes.  After several hours glued to the computer and TV, a little after midnight, an explosive thunder and lightening bolt touched down around what felt like a foot away from my bedroom window, followed by about 15 minutes or so of pounding rain, and then it was over.  I went to sleep feeling safe and warm and at the time, unaware of the fact that hundreds of people frighteningly close to Atlanta had lost their lives...and MANY more had lost homes and belongings. 

In the dark cool hours before the sun rises, I often find myself sitting at my laptop, sipping tea and contemplating about the day ahead.  My sweet mutts and big orange tabby generally rally around me waiting for their breakfast or a walk while I catch up on emails, study for school, and check the news and facebook.  It feels very peaceful and quiet, and all the turmoil swirling around the world seems so detached from my life.  But it really isn't.  Whether I feel it or not in the moment, we are all connected.  My initial feeling of peacefulness and connection, though, of late, has been compromised with an overwhelming feeling of information overload and confusion..and frustration even.  More than ever, polarizing views, often inflammatory and judgmental opinions, dogma of all sorts seem to prevail.  Topics that were once a given, now are up for debate and criticism.  Is this just a natural universal shift of increasing awareness and mindfulness?  Or is it a sign of disillusionment or even of a sinister nature?

I don't know the answers.  I do know that in my own journey of growth a common mantra has been: "When I know better, I do better."  Growing up on Big Macs and frozen dinners and canned food, along with witnessing my father's lung cancer diagnosis and subsequent death when I was 20, led me to learn about health and nutrition, and now I am nearly certified as a nutritional consultant from Hawthorn University.  I learned a long time ago not to automatically trust information just because it was fed to me via the news or government.  My belief is that the USDA and FDA and many large corporations such as Monsanto and many (most) pharmaceutical companies have only their best$$$$ mind and certainly not the best interests of the general public.  The current debate over vaccinations and autism continues with conflicting studies and opinions, as well as the dangers (or not) of genetically modified foods and pesticides, plastics, and so on.  The list is seemingly endless. 

Today we have access to more information than ever before, and we are bombarded with it.  The internet has exposed me to information about the horrors behind how we get bananas, wool, chocolate, and even computer parts and flowers.  It's great to be aware and learn, though it can certainly be daunting.  No action is without some sort of consequence somewhere.  Just being alive is going to leave a footprint that is invariably going to be stomping on top of someone or some thing.  It's unavoidable.

And on top of all this knowledge, some believe that nothing we hear is true.  Just in the past 2 or 3 days, I have heard conflicting theories about 911, Obama's birth certificate, Osama Bin Laden, HAARP, chemtrails, and more.  It makes my head spin...and hurt.  And right when I have formed an opinion, another view comes to light and I wonder if I should entertain it at all or simply choose to avoid spending any time or energy on it. 

What I do find is this...ultimately, giving too much headspace to all these issues is counterproductive and immobilizing for me.  I'm guessing it is for some others too.  I repeat, I don't know the answers.  I don't know if there is a plot, as one of my friends believes with all her heart, that there are secret societies that control our government and news with sinister plans against humanity.  I don't know if Osama was actually killed 10 years ago, the other day, or if he is still alive somewhere.  I don't know the definitively best way of living or eating for all of the planet.  I do know that the scope of what I don't know is way larger than what I do know.

I've come to a few conclusions:
1: There is no ONE way that works for every living being on the planet and it is not my place to judge others' decisions.
2: Most issues have many shades of gray and are not simply black/white, right/wrong, or healthy/unhealthy.
3: Most of us (I include myself) have mindsets that are often already set and will hear what they want to hear.
4: Living in a state of fear of the unknown is not productive for anyone.
5: Having a healthy concern and curiosity for knowledge is not the same as being fearful or being a consipracy theorist.
6: Being a skeptic and being a cynic are not the same thing...though some can be both.
7: Keeping an open mind and working toward making positive choices daily and surrendering that for which I have no control is a huge key to my happiness.
8: I can either go crazy and live in a scary world, only focusing on negative, destructive thoughts, or I can make it a priority to live in the moment, at least for today.
9: I will never know all the answers.
10: If I ever do know all the answers...whatever that means..most likely it won't happen during this lifetime.

For today, reflect for a moment.  Are you living in fear or do you have a sense of peace?  Are you willing to take at least one step today towards achieving some peace, or contentment with you and your connection to the universe?