Tag Archive: otherness


THAT Was Ages Ago!

I was just thinking about something I read or heard that, after a couple of years being a vegetarian or vegan, your body loses the ability to process non-vegetarian/vegan food sources.  I felt slightly worried, just in case it really should turn out that you need animal nutrition to be healthy, and what would I do if my body couldn’t even cope with it?

Then I thought of the days when I was fascinated by the fact that Pete Murray was a vegetarian, and wondered how he could possibly do it, and thought it couldn’t be possible, and that it was very interesting, but scary territory, and very much ‘out there’.  It wasn’t something I could ever do. People like me can’t.

I went to Happy Grill the other day, for a cup of coffee.  I decided to look at the menu, and decided that, as a vegan, I was in trouble.  I wanted everything I shouldn’t want.  Not just eggs, but meat and fish.  It felt like the most normal, natural and easy thing to do, just tuck into a chicken, meat or fish meal.  I am wishing I was still a fish eater, and am trying to justify a thought that I could keep my own egg producing hen.  With me it would be free and well cared for.

I also keep deciding it can’t be right, as a vegan.  I keep coming back to the belief that, if I do that, I will be validating the system of exploitation that gives me access to the hen in the first place.

But is it different in the countryside, and in Bulgaria?  Is it OK to eat animals and their products if the animal has a free and natural life?  Is being a vegan a bit extreme?

I sometimes feel it is, and that I am being stupid and depriving myself just because I said that I would be a vegan for life, and I don’t want to be teased about giving it up.  Why not, I don’t know, really.  Vegans are no nicer than – I was going to say ‘the rest of us’, this is not a good place for a vegan to be – anyone else, and there are more of us than there are of them, that is more meat eaters than vegans, and this is my thought process which, as a vegan, I’m not entitled to, but it is where I’m at.

OK, muddle.  I have not felt embraced by vegans, any more than by anyone else.  As a human and a vegan, I have felt enraged and deeply wounded and betrayed by this, because part of my vegan expectation is that people will matter to vegans as much as any other living creature does.  As a vegan, especially in Bulgaria, I am really lonely.

I don’t know what is wrong with the vegetarian/vegan people here.  Their prejudice and misogynistic hatred and contempt seem to run just as deep, if not deeper – I mean, if you are a vegetarian or vegan out of conviction, that’s a love stance, isn’t it?  So how can you be cruel/rejecting/controlling towards a human being, especially if they share your convictions and believe in and practise the lifestyle?  And if you claim to embrace a peaceful and loving spirituality to boot?

I wonder if they read this.  I wonder if the people the media continually directs my attention back to are really wanting me to go back to them? Because if they do and if they read this, I’d like to say to them,

‘wake up and smell the coffee, guys.  I am gutted and devastated by the way you have treated me in this, the way you have turned away from me and turned in on yourselves, the way you have accepted a bad report about me from people who have no right even to have access to some of the things they say, let alone be spreading them’.

Maybe I made a mistake.  I believed in the vegan community, the kind, compassionate, caring, Christian, spiritual community.  I saw the sharing of values as a bond and covenant of friendship.  I still do.

I was going to liken it to believing in the disabled community, or a racial or ethnic community, but about those things you have no choice.  But is it still true that, even given who you say you are in the paragraph above, it is no more covenantal than being disabled or of a particular ethnic background?

There is one thing we all are, and that is human.  But even that is not a respected covenant.  So just as I am not going to find a friend in every human being just because I am human (we might be different in every other way), it probably follows that I am not going to find a friend in every vegan or spiritual person and shouldn’t believe in the idea of community anymore than I should believe in a disabled community.  The fact that we share a situation or cause or believe we share a conviction doesn’t mean we have what it takes to be friends and find friends.

This is garbage, isn’t it?  It is also a place of real pain and heartbreak for me.  And parading it on a page on the internet makes me feel less able to deal with it in a way that might heal relationships in real life.  It’s about motive.  Who am I writing for, and why?  They have as much right to feel betrayed as I do, maybe, if not more.

Non-vegans tease you all the time, pushing the boundaries of what you will or won’t embrace as acceptable and your reasons.  A question I keep coming back to is, if some animals are bred only for their usefulness or food value, if we were all vegan would they all become extinct?  These lovely, fluffy lambs we don’t want to kill and eat, the horses and the donkeys we don’t want to exploit.  If they only existed in the wild, would they soon become extinct, and our lives be perceptibly poorer for their absence?

Another question: is using an electronic sound deterrent on household pests and vermin a form of animal cruelty?  I’ve got a rat or 2, they are getting bolder.  They do my bedroom now.  I read they don’t like peppermint, so I put some peppermint teabags out all around the kitchen, and at the hole I know about.  They shifted them out of the way and carried on regardless.  I can’t afford rat catchers all the time, and I think they would be unsympathetic to a vegan approach anyway, the only other option seems to be to let dogs and cats eat them.  Or kill them and leave them for me. Lovely!  And inconsistent, to my mind.  So what do you do?

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Marcus Aurelius on Anger & Empathy

Marcus Aurelius on Anger & Empathy.

I saw this, disagreed with some of it, liked a lot of it.

I liked the bit about strength is being able to remain calm and gentle, and agreed with the bit from Plato that expecting that bad men won’t do anything bad is stupid, and that thinking they will do bad things to other people but not to you is arrogant.

I don’t agree, fundamentally, with the ‘you will hurt yourself but not me’ stance in detaching yourself from someone else’s behaviour or outbursts.  My first instinct is that expressing and believing that attitude damages yourself and assumes superiority.  If you love someone, of course you will be hurt by what they say and do if you think it is wrong. You will be hurt that they are being that way, and if you say they are hurting themselves, you also will be hurt by that fact.  You can’t not be.  If you care in any way, you can’t not be hurt.  It’s a false separation, and an outrage against your own sensitivity.

For all that, and more, I find this article interesting.  I’m going to tell the truth, whether it has any foundation or not, but when I was reading about strength being being able to remain calm and gentle, I thought about – yeah, Tommy Boyd.  Bloody damn and stuff, how could I not?

“This is not a job for decent people”

That’s why it doesn’t attract any, Anita.  I heard you say that on your show, The Daily Politics.  You had to work at batting your eyelids today.  Great Gypsy Rose Lee impression.  It isn’t a job for decent people.  You seem to be enjoying it, though.  Or you would do it straight, and you don’t.  You disgust decent people.  And I don’t mean me, though I’d be happy to be included.

It’s called mental cruelty, where I come from.  And it might not be the same place as you, even if we have spent our lives next door to each other (edit after criticism: I’m not talking about geography, race or culture).  The law goes easier on people who resort to violence under provocation, doesn’t it?  At least, it used to.

By the way, there IS a mug.  There are even TWO, aren’t there?

There is an interesting thing going on linguistically and tonally with you guys.  All of you that use media.  it used to happen to me face to face, I lived in fear of it all the time in my flat.  You start nice (natch), you draw me out with things I’m interested in, then you turn it round at the end and start talking in firm tones about authorities and medicine.

You are a very naughty and frightened girl doing as much damage as you possibly can while you still have the camera on you.  The people you want to do the most damage to are the people who, but for the torture and psychological abuse you subject them to, would be best able to tear off your mask and testify effectively.

You’re not on your own, but it’s the affectation of innocence I can’t stand.  How can you be achieving anything good for society if you are so cruel, unreal and dishonest yourself?  Not to mention your family.  Sorry to go to such depths, but that is because I am myself a deep and sensitive thinker who reserves the right to be as free in my expression as you are in yours.

You all seem to be suggesting that the house I am living in is going to be taken away from me.  Even if that wasn’t true, it might now be possible that you have fried my brain so much with your cruelty that that will be the end result.

You scum, the lot of you.  I mean it.  My soft feelings are because I am decent, not because YOU are.

I don’t believe that what is happening to me here came from any government.  It came from the media.  This has been a media operation.  The government had to get involved.  That’s what I believe about Bulgaria.

I have no home in England.  Only a housing association basement flat in a row of terraced houses, which has become for me a prison.  If any of you think I’m going back there you have another think coming.

The Moon

So, what is the moon to me? 

When I went to school we had a song about the moon, or a man who lived there.  His name was (not sure how to spell this) Achin’ Drum.  And he played upon a ladle.  And something to do with cream cheese.

It has always been an object of beauty to me, and valuable for that alone.  I am assured that it is probably going to be around for at least as long as I am.  So I can look up, and there it is, awesome, beautiful, especially in the mountains on a cloudless night.

Why can’t we just look at it from a distance and love it, and love its maker?  Why can’t we let it be separate and appreciate it for its light and beauty?  Why do we have to get close up and analyse it?  To find that it has enough water per tonne for a shallow bath, but it isn’t drinkable, as said in Fiona Bruce’s News at Ten last night, ‘there are problems’.

Someone said, ‘a thing of beauty is a joy for ever’.  Someone else said, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’.  Since we can analyse anything we want to, why should we be grateful for or awed by anything?

My first intellectual reaction to the report was, in this era of austerity, isn’t it a waste of money to be ‘conquering’ space in this way?  Isn’t it only scientific man’s way of flexing his muscles, and isn’t it an intellectual luxury we can’t afford?  I think so.  I don’t think anyone is ever going to live on the moon.  I might be wrong, but we don’t need that space, it will only be novelty and ‘because we can’ if we do.  But it’s showing off and we can’t afford it.  In all kinds of ways we can’t afford it.  I believe the fabric of who we are can’t afford it, and I think it is immoral.  Just because we CAN do something, it doesn’t mean we SHOULD.

I went to a political talk in Deptford on climate change last year, hosted by Joan Ruddock, my MP.  I didn’t feel informed enough to contribute, so I sat and listened and thought, and eventually she waved a hand in my direction saying, ‘some people, of course, don’t even care’.  I defended myself, saying it wasn’t that I didn’t care, just that I didn’t feel qualified to have an opinion, and that the experts were divided, at which point someone suggested quite forcefully that I could leave if I wanted to, but I held my ground and stayed.  Later I asked about the impact of space exploration on the climate and the environment, but she said it was minimal, and all the lights left on and CFCs etc were more harmful and these little changes made all the difference.  I’m not convinced of that, and I thought her answer was very defensive and evasive.  Having watched parliament for a while as well, it appears to me the issue of climate change is often used strategically and metaphorically anyway.  It’s a handy issue to have going.  I was invited to the talk at a very strategic point in my own life last year, having never been invited to anything before or since.  I think I had emailed her or we had had a brief correspondence or something.  But I had had contact with her ages before that as well.

I think space programmes are an intellectual luxury we can’t afford, which adds only to our material knowledge and satisfies some of our curiosity but does nothing really for the quality of our lives, unlike other areas of science, and unlike the arts, and religion.  I suppose a few drugs might have their origin on the moon, but at this point I don’t know.

In this age of climate consciousness I wonder if people still find it so ridiculous to say, ‘if God had intended us to fly, he would have given us wings’.  Hasn’t the number and intensity and geographical reach of wars increased with our mobility?  Could we have had world wars without aircraft?  Most of us can’t afford the ‘benefits’ of air travel (going on holiday is up there in the list of the most stressful things to do as well – we need a holiday.  We need the stress of going on holiday to get away from the stress of everyday life and recharge our batteries, they tell us.  Maybe that is why many of us don’t bother with our neighbours ‘too much’, we can walk away, put space between us if it becomes too intense, and come back and maintain the comfortable distance), but apparently we can’t afford it environmentally either.

We look out there for everything, if we can’t easily find the solution nearby, everything comes at us from out there, and we end up out there ourselves.  There is no centring anymore, no respect for the individuality and separateness of another, whether it be person, family, community or country.  We cross the boundaries whenever we think we will.  Modern day mass media gives us the impression of immediacy and responsibility, but the reality is, we do not have it in us to take on that kind and amount of responsibility (or to be busybodies), and we are suffering for it.  We need more independence.  Our economies need more independence.  There should be no such thing as a global economic crisis, and no possibility of there being.  That’s what I think, but I might be wrong, I’m not that educated or well informed.

But back to science and stuff.  I’m not sure if we have the moral and ethical compass to keep pushing the boundaries.  Every new discovery seems to add more reasons to our lives to be afraid than it does benefits, and we always seem to be being told that we can’t afford the benefits anyway, as in drug treatments.  Please sir, why can’t we afford the benefits if we can afford to keep funding the war and fear machines?  Please sir, why not?

Who are all these despots that keep terrorising their people, who have been put in place by the western world leaders?  Is the selection process itself responsible for the havoc they can create and maintain?  All these famines and things where we can’t or won’t deliver because of the countries’ leaders.  I don’t want to just bandy words about that I don’t understand, but this really IS still colonial Britain, isn’t it?  Imposing our ways and values on every people we get involved with.

IF multiculturalism doesn’t work, why don’t we adopt the same ‘no pain, no gain’ policy towards dealing with that in the face of all the PC protests and accusations of racism, the same as we do with economic issues, where the accusation is that of classism?  Or on that is everyone saying, ‘you turn if you want to, the lady’s not for turning’?  Why is it taboo in England even to consider that?  Protests don’t stop our politicians in any other area of national and public life.  I’m not saying we should, I’m just asking why we can’t even give respect to the people who think we need to regain the separateness of our national identity.

Here endeth this little foray.

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