The other day a friend of mine posted an animal cruelty documentary called Earthlings on her Facebook page with the comment, “anyone who watches this and doesn’t immediately go vegan has no soul.” I immediately felt annoyed and guilty at the same time. Guilty because I knew I was not capable of going vegan even though I would find the film distressing, and annoyed at the inference this rendered me soulless.
I chose not to watch the film at all. This was the internet equivalent of putting my fingers in my ears and saying ‘lalalala’.
I guess this makes me a hypocrite – my willingness to eat meat coupled with my reluctance to see where it comes from. I have always considered myself someone with a social conscience so why am I putting my head in the sand so much these days? Lately I have refused to watch a number of important documentaries, An Inconvenient Truth for example, because the reality is just too distressing. Surely I need to earn my right to be a modern consumer by facing up to the realities of being a modern consumer.
Then I thought about the amount of times a day I feel guilty.
I feel guilty that I used the dryer when I could have used a rack. I feel guilty that I didn’t eat those leftovers in time. I feel guilty I didn’t plan my shopping trip and needed plastic bags, I feel guilty I left the front porch light on all day, I feel guilty I forgot to put the recycling bin out and was forced to put recyclables in normal bin, I feel guilty that I didn’t buy a Big Issue, I feel guilty that I felt all nostalgic and bought individually wrapped plastic cheese and then ate half of it in one sitting, I feel guilty I am not in a position to adopt every puppy and kitten on the pounds death row, I feel guilty I ate a tuna sandwich, I feel guilty I microwaved something in plastic and fed it to a kid. I could go on all day.
Is it any wonder that we’re tuning out? Those of us with a soul need to harden ourselves to what is happening around us just to get through the day. I suspect most of us are already all too aware of these issues and watching more and more documentaries and reading more and more articles only serves to exacerbate our sense of guilt and powerlessness.
It would be a terrible shame if the sheer quantity of causes we are exposed to these days creates an environment of apathy that stops us moving forward.
Many of us seem to have said “enough” and look away while we wait for the day we are forced by the powers that be to change. But change will never come unless every one of us starts to stand up and give a shit. But how do we do this when it all just seems so overwhelming and impossible?
I guess we need to stop thinking we have to eat the cake in one bite and concentrate on the nibbles. We need to forgive ourselves for not being able to do everything and instead focus on the things we can do. We need to realise we are not solely personally responsible for Dancing Bears or War or Global Warming or Endangered Species but what matters is what we learn from those things and do what we can to stop them happening in the future.
Most importantly we need to not give up. We need to all keep doing those little everyday things that help wherever we can because as dire as it may sometimes seem; where there’s life, there really is hope.
Except for Tuna. They’re screwed.
(As seen on Blog Musings of an Inappropriate Woman:http://rachelhills.tumblr.com/post/702381387/guest-post-a-daily-dose-of-guilt)