Let’s Chat About Ahimsa
This year, I decided to welcome in 2018 with quiet retrospection, reviewing 2017 and thinking about my hopes and dreams for 2018. It came to me quickly, Ahimsa, the practice of non-violence. Now, you already know that I’m vegan and have been for quite some time. So, I doubt this is coming as a surprise to you.
However, it took me to a core level. What, exactly, does Ahimsa mean to me; and how will that manifest differently for me in 2018 versus 2017 and other historical years?
As I went into meditation, asking that question, immediately this question came into my conscious awareness, “Why, Linda, do you sometimes say nothing when a loved one or stranger makes a comment about why they continue to eat other animals, and even worse, when they think they are being funny with their comments objectifying animals as their bacon, sausage, hot dog, etc,” (you get the idea, I’m sure). I will often make the comment that I find it interesting that he/she talks about how much they love animals, particularly their cat or dog, yet they put other sentient beings into a different, a cruel and violent, category. But, often, that is as far as I go. I’ll shrug my shoulders and attempt to change the subject, trying not to ‘rock the boat’, if you will.
What if the Whole World Went Vegan?
It got me to thinking about how we view violence toward others. It got me to thinking what the world would look like if everyone went vegan. I doubt that will even come close to being a reality in my lifetime; but as I envisioned what it would look like, I sensed that it would be a more peaceful world, a world where people would not be as violent, not only towards other sentient beings but also to other human beings. That, possibly, being okay with violence being inflicted upon other sentient beings for whatever our reason may conceivably contribute to the violence we inflict upon other human beings, starting with verbal violence, intimidation, to the ultimate horrific acts.
What You’re Sayin’ and How You’re Livin’ …
It also made me think about the language that we use, some of the sayings that might roll off some of our tongues without really giving much thought to what we are actually saying. Sayings such as, “killing two birds with one stone”, “the early bird gets the worm”, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”, “sweating like a pig”, “human guinea pig”, “going hog wild”. I image that, as you’re reading this, you’ve probably come up with some others as well. I can’t help but think that verbalizing idioms such as these contribute to desensitizing us to the violence that is so commonplace regarding other sentient beings.
And then let’s talk about creatures from the sea and how there are so many people that won’t eat parts of a cow, or a chicken, etc.; but they justify their consumption of sea beings because of their denial that they, too, are sentient beings.
I’m sure we’ve all heard this one … the retort from omnivores when we do attempt to say something….”well, you plants and they are alive.” I’ve come to the conclusion that these individuals are not really asking that question in earnest but rather using it as their way to deflect the conversation and twist it around.
My dear friend, Terri, always used to correct anyone who said “it is to die for.” As she was someone who valued life dearly, fighting so valiantly for her own right to the end, she would say, “No, it is to LIVE for!” Such a wise woman.
So, Now What?
Okay, Linda, so what are you going to do about all this? How will you be different this year?
So, for 2018, I am going to try to be a better version of me. I will not become that in-your-face, obnoxious person that people will turn off the moment I start talking. HOWEVER, I promise that I will no longer be silent. I will no longer shrug my shoulders. I will no longer act as if I am okay with being at a table while others around me consume dead animals who suffered horribly to make their way to the plate.
I will try to always remember to come from a place of love and compassion in my heart; but to no longer be silent. I have learned so much in these recent years; it’s time I start verbalizing it in a way that can be hear-able to the recipient, plant seeds, help water them where possible. And in the presence of contention, remind myself of the remarkable difference that Mahatma Gandhi made in the world with the practice of Ahimsa, non-violent civil disobedience.
I will not only be an advocate for those who cannot use their own voice against the violence that befalls sentient beings, I am ready and willing to step into the role of activist.
With that in mind, I embrace 2018 and everything that will come with it.
In the Spirit of Ahimsa,
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