On Changes in What Americans Are Attending To
I've been out of every loop I used to be in because my work outside of veganism and animal rights came a-calling in a most critical way.
As a result, for the first time in my life I've been living like many working people do: I get up early and rush around to make breakfast for myself and my husband and the three creatures, prepare lunches for my husband and myself (all vegan, of course) and then drive 1.5 hours–which is environmentally criminal–to an office that is so cold that most people use space heaters. It's been 92 degrees outside, by the way.
It's humbling to experience all of this for the first time in my nearly 43 years, from the showering in the morning and donning fancy clothes and make up, to commuting with thousands of my closest friends, to having to hire people to walk my dogs and spend time with them because I'm not home during the day. And then there's the grocery shopping along with everyone else on Sundays, and the desperate attempts to work out daily when that used to come easily. What I now call meditating most people would call catnapping.
I understand why people get depressed and "let themselves go." I understand why people want to shoot each other on I-95. I understand how easy it is to have a glass of wine rather than run a handful of miles at 7pm.
But something else has happened. I haven't been able to blog, or, I haven't made it a priority. And it doesn't seem to matter as there is a cadre of new bloggers and writers, including several who analyze the mainstream news as it relates to animals and also religion. There are new Francione-style abolitionists and new people to veganism who debate about the ethics of consuming eggs from their neighbor's chickens.
While I've been off closing one nonprofit and getting the other under the most-capable and well-funded wing of the Dan Marino Foundation, Americans have dramatically increased their attention to two things: atheism and animals. And there's no sweeter thought to an atheist vegan than the idea that the mainstream has begun to take those two important notions seriously.
Another observation: There's a lot of hating going on. And my disappointment over vegan-on-vegan hate has found an unlikely peer in atheist-on-agnostic (and -on-believer) hate. The hating is disconcerting, and I'm not sure what I can do about it. I do understand the need to make differences clear. And I can be as snarky as the next person. But the hating? The mean-spiritedness without even attempting to incorporate proper grammar and punctuation? The alienating of everyone but those who agree with every part of your position? I don't get it. When you are friends, or "followers" or "blogroll"-ers with only people whom you entirely agree with, I humbly suggest that you reconsider that if your goal is education and conversion (but if it's commiseration and sharing with those who are like minded, have at it!).
Perhaps because of space constraints, Twitter, in my experience, is a place where nastiness is like an extreme sport. I keep #atheism streaming on Tweetdeck and it's embarrassing to read some of the vitriol toward believers. It's even more offensive than the condescension of believers, who are praying for poor me and my pointless life sans morality.
This trend of nastiness I've noticed that's probably about a year old happens to coincide with the rudeness we Americans have been hearing about in politics and society in general. There's a fine line on which snarkiness wobbles, and I've fallen to the nasty side of the line many times but I'm making a concerted effort to prevent that by resisting the temptation to go overboard with obnoxious editorializing.
I'll be back blogging regularly as of November 1 and I'm probably going to change how I do things, perhaps adding a section on stories about animals and animal rescue. It's exciting to think that there are so many more voices and perspectives than there were three and a half years ago when I started blogging. And doubly exciting to see that mainstream America is having debates on national television–on places like Larry King!–about the eating of animals. And it's fantastic that there are films and vlogs and videos that deal with how we use animals–and that they are reaching the masses.
Yes, we have a long, long way to go. But when my dad, whose favorite food is kielbasa, says he wants to go vegan (which made his 76th birthday present a cinch–a box of vegan cookbooks!), trust me when I say the world is paying attention and opening up to the idea of questioning our relationship to nonhuman animals.