“We have a great deal more kindness than is ever spoken.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is a part of human nature so tender, so vulnerable that we keep it closeted deep inside us, fearing it cannot survive so dangerous a world. Although it manages to peek out in those rare moments when we cry out against injustice or secretly cringe at the sight of violence, it is seldom seen or heard and even less often heeded. But, on the rare occasions when we choose to follow its will, this vegan inside us moves a little closer to the closet door.
Vegan choices – unlike personal ones, such as the books we read, the movies we see or where and with whom we live – are not based on our likes and dislikes, but on the indomitable will of this empathetic part of our nature, which, however much ignored, persists in trying to convince us, at every turn, to make the more compassionate choice. It is that part of us that reminds us, lest we forget, that as precious as our individual right to life and liberty is, when we violate that right by denying anyone else the same, we are wrong. And that wrong can never be right, even when its victims are other than human.
Speciesism is an insidious, grave injustice that has existed for as long as human beings have ruled the earth. Socially accepted globally, legitimized by governments of all nations and sanctified by the world’s religions, it is only in the past half-century that this last stronghold of bigotry is being widely challenged. The result is an ever-growing tidal wave of formally closeted vegans, courageously coming out into the light of day, proudly admitting to all who will listen that they no longer support the abomination that imprisons, tortures or kills innocent sentient beings, in any way, for any reason.
Now, for the first time in history, there is real hope for freedom for the most downtrodden victims of prejudice on this earth.
To understand the scope and depth of our prejudice toward non-human animals, just imagine if the cruelty that humans inflict upon them as a matter of course, was inflicted instead on our own species. I do not think we would be discussing whether refraining from supporting these practices was a personal choice or ethical responsibility. Rather, there would be an immediate uproar, demanding an end to these horrendous crimes. But, however heinous their abuses, the vast majority of people numbly accepts the centuries-old stupendous lie that says that we humans are the rightful owners of the bodies of non-humans, and therefore, may do with them as we please, because they are, after all, only animals.
Prejudice is judging someone before having knowledge of his or her real worth, and is therefore, based on superficial traits, such as appearance, gender, color, creed, class, or species. When those in power (which we humans indisputably are) judge ourselves to be superior (which we invariably do), and use our self-made laws to justify the enslavement of entire species of non-human animals whom we deem inferior – although their true worth is as unknown to us as their sentience is known – we find ourselves living in a world in which violence and cruelty, the inevitable offspring of bigotry, are so ingrained in our culture that they are accepted as natural.
Now is the time for those of us who are willing to be the essential change this world so desperately needs, to open the closet door and set the vegan inside us free to unashamedly show the world who we really are.