How do you live completely harm-free in a world as complex and interconnected as ours?
Even if you focus on present, ongoing harm and ignore past historical harms – a completely arbitrary decision – you still can’t find or fix everything.
We pay taxes to a government that does a host of bad things (anyone reading this, regardless of political leanings, can probably agree to that). Christians have instructions from the Master Himself to do so (“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” – Mark 12:17). We all have a gun literally pointed at our heads to make us pay.
We can’t even know the origins of all the things we put on or into our bodies or our vehicles.
What do we do? Well, we can vote, if we can find someone worth voting for. We can sign petitions and write letters to our representatives in state, local, and national government. We can protest and make our voices known.
And we can educate ourselves on the issues.
But is that enough? My taxes are still paying for drone strikes against civilians, and indefinite detention without trial (both happening on the CIA’s word, with nominal executive oversight and no due process), and so are yours, if you live in the U.S.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:10 KJV)
But that doesn’t mean we can’t push back. It doesn’t mean we can’t find one little corner of our lives and push back against the cruelty, violence, and exploitation that have been baked into our governmental and economic systems, and the deception that hides them.
It just means that nobody, vegan, vegetarian, meat-eater, tax-dodge, pacifist, or soldier, can ever fully claim the moral high ground.
I know I surely can’t.
And I know that when I try to, I can end up hurting people I never intended to.
A wise long-term vegan told me that you can only go where your consciousness leads you. And that we should not be “holier than thou” with people whose consciousness (and consciences) aren’t leading them the same direction ours are.
And experience leads me to understand that nobody can care about everything at once. A single human being just doesn’t have the energy.
So, I’ll say this. Try some vegan dishes – some are very yummy – and see if you’d like to add them to your weekly meal rotation.
But beyond that, whatever your conscience is leading you to care about, care deeply, and act wisely.
And if I ever start acting holier-than-thou, let me know.