Earth Hour! This Saturday, March 19

 

Earth Hour Logo
Join me for Earth Hour on Saturday, March 19.

(I’m still working on that movie review, so here are some thoughts for today.)

Earth Hour is this Saturday, March 19th. Organized by the World Wildlife Fund, this event aims to raise awareness about global warming and its effects on all of the living species on the planet.

Now, I know I’ve got a few folks in my circles who aren’t so sure that global warming is a Thing, and more than a few that aren’t sure we can really do much about it. That’s cool – I understand how you might come to those points of view. And honestly, while I personally believe climate change is a real phenomenon, and that we need to take action toward it, I can’t argue with the idea that there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know, and can’t know for sure about how it’s all going to work out.

But here’s the thing: that actually doesn’t matter.

You see, even if climate change never happens, the vast majority of actions we might take to combat it are still pretty good ideas. Making less waste. Not poisoning our land, air and water. Living more simply, and more in harmony with nature. Finding lots of different ways to generate energy. Making sure our communal decisions are made by actual community members, not corporations chasing profits. Actively working to ensure that every living being has a decent quality of life.

I know all of that sounds rather big and abstract, and probably a bit impossible. The thing is, when it comes to you and me, to actually doing stuff, there’s a lot of really simple actions you can take, everyday kind of stuff, that will make a huge difference. We can all live better, breathe clean air and drink fresh unleaded water, whether the climate changes or not. And you don’t even have to get a composting toilet.

We’ll talk more about this in the days to come, but I wanted to give you the head’s up now, in case you wanted to participate in Earth Hour on Saturday. It’s as easy as turning off the lights and starting a conversation. You can download a starter kit on the Earth Hour website, or just stay tuned here for more information (and some of that great conversation).

Some Programming Notes

Hi guys!

Sorry this is so late…and so short. I’m working on a great post for you, about 10 Cloverfield Road and Ex Machina and the way that captive women are portrayed in both of those movies. They are both weirdly similar and totally different, and one is far more successful at achieving it’s goal than the other, and the “why” of that is really interesting to me.

However, today got a bit busy, and it is getting really late and I’m not going to have time to finish it tonight and really do the topic justice. And if we’re going to dig in to such good topics, I want to do them right. So that will have to wait until tomorrow.

I have also been posting at least one photo a day, following the prompts at CaptureYour365.com. I’ve been posting those on my Instagram account, which you can follow here. I’ve not been posting them here because that’s a double post for me. That being said, if you guys like to see them here, let me know – I’m happy to oblige.

Technically, that’s my word count for today. I know it’s not exciting, and I don’t plan on doing this sort of post too often. Today was all about getting some more entertaining posts planned and researched, and I don’t mind that taking a bit of writing time since it means more and better stuff coming your way ASAP. Thanks so much for your support the last few days – it means the world.

Until tomorrow,

G

On Being Vegan, Again.

Once upon a time I was vegan. Then I stopped. Now I am vegan again.

That’s the short version. I’m going to go into a bit more detail, but if those three sentences make you angry, or combative, or filled with a sudden need to give me dietary advice, this is where the story ends for you. Because that’s not what I’m about.

If those three sentences make you uncomfortable, or worried that I’m going to get all preachy, do try to stick around anyway. For starters, I’m not really the preachy type. I’d rather show than tell, offer a well-researched perspective, and let you make your own decisions. You are the one who has to live your life, after all, and short of crawling inside your head to hang out in your brain, I can’t know what’s best for you. That being said, I do believe a bit of discomfort is good for the soul – and that’s actually really what this post is about.

My initial veganism came about somewhat randomly, at least from the outside. Contrary to what I told my mother at the time, other than mild lactose intolerance, I had no real health issues that pushed me toward veganism (sorry, Mom). I didn’t know any vegans, at least not personally. I knew they existed, knew what the word meant, and met a few who identified as such here and there, but my life was filled with meat-and-potatoes people, and that was just fine by me. Nor was I overcome by any great and profound love of animals. I spent the first five years of my life in the country, surrounded by cornfields and cattle pastures. Raising animals for food was as native a concept for me as speaking English.

No, the whole situation was much more cerebral than that – a simple set of philosophical connections that lead to what felt like an equally simple conclusion. I was wrestling with a lot of philosophical and ethical concepts back then (I think we all do, in our twenties). How do we relate to one another as humans, how do we interact with and take care of our environment, and on what basis do we make those decisions. Looking back, I can see clear paths – all that thinking lead me to start really writing seriously. It lead me, eventually, to atheism, to a divorce, to Southern California (all things I consider very good, by the way), to choosing an artist’s path. But first, it lead me to veganism.

As I recall, it began with the idea farming had evolved significantly in the 20 years since I’d left the cornfields, and not necessarily for the better. That maybe the way we treat animals isn’t that awesome – especially the ones we raise for food. And that that mistreatment might not be good for us, bodies or souls. I went out and got a book (Vegan, the New Ethics of Eating, by Eric Marcus), read it, and promptly became a vegan. Literally within a matter of hours. It was, I felt, the only ethical option.

I was vegan for close to 10 years… I’ve lost track of when I started, but I do know when I stopped. All those things I mentioned before? The atheism, the divorce, the moving? They came with a massive ton of chaos, and in the midst of it all, I just gave up. And then I found out I had celiac, and it seemed impossible that I would ever return to veganism again.

Then recently, I started thinking again. About how we relate to each other as humans, how we interact with and take care of our environment, on what basis we make those decisions. And the thing is, eating animals and animal products? Those acts make me into someone I don’t want to be.

I don’t want to be part of the suffering of millions of animals. I don’t want anything to do with the exploitation of thousands of workers. I’m not interested in participating in a system that hijacks a basic need – food – and turns it into something that actively, intentionally, keeps our most vulnerable people sick and disabled.

The flip side of that is that veganism has always made me better. It forces me to take care of myself, to be more independent, more discerning. It’s brought adventure and exploration, amazing conversation and deeper relationships. It’s brought physical health and mental well-being.

Being vegan – facing up to the way our food is produced, how it’s marketed to us, the implications of choosing to actively, wastefully exploit and kill other living beings – it’s the definition of uncomfortable. It’s not easy to choose differently in a culture that equates food with love, that worships culinary decadence, and actively, legally punishes anyone who suggests otherwise. But I can’t pretend I don’t know. I can’t pretend I don’t care.

And after all, a little discomfort is good for the soul.

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Day 3 of 365

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The Purpose of a Gun

I made a statement about guns yesterday, which was a little out of sync with the rest of that post, and I said that I would revisit it. Today’s just as good as any to do that, although me being who I am and guns being what they are, this will probably come up more than once in the next year.

Let me start by restating what I said yesterday:

The fundamental purpose of a gun is to take a life. All use of this tool must flow from a deep understanding of that fundamental purpose.

There are people that will argue with me on this point. I don’t know that I know any of those people directly, but just in case, let me follow up: You may use your gun for something other than killing humans. You may not even kill animals with it. You can say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” You may feel confident enough in your ability to use your gun that you believe you would only use it to warn someone, or hurt someone, but never to kill them, and only in the most extreme of circumstances. Good for you. That is not the purpose of a gun.

You have a gun for one single reason: because once upon a time, someone decided to harness explosive black powder in order to kill things more efficiently. Every refinement to this weapon since then has been for that same exact reason: to kill things more efficiently.

There are a lot of things to talk about and think deeply about in regards to guns and their usage, especially in this country. Far too many and too deeply for a Saturday morning. But I put this here, I say it over and over and over, because I think we’ve lost track of this fundamental truth, and we really, really need to remember.

Once upon a time (it is Saturday, after all, and that is a good day for a story), scientists built a bomb that was so effective, it ripped apart everything in its blast radius at the atomic level, and left damaging radiation in its wake for decades afterwards. We the people of the United States* used that bomb – two of them, in fact – on innocent civilians, believing at the time that those two evils were necessary stopgaps against something far greater.

The effects of those bombs were so devastating, we immediately decided that they should never be used again… Except. Except if those guys over there (which in those days meant Soviet Russia and its satellite nations, countries who just a few days before had been our allies) get these weapons, and they use them, then we’ll use ours. And while we’re at it, we’d better stockpile a whole bunch more bombs, and make some other bombs, and more guns, and…

The Cold War was all about fear. It was about believing that any second could bring our enemy to our door to take our stuff and punish us for daring to be free.**

And so we stockpiled, and we forgot that those weapons hurt people. People who, for the most part, were just like us. People who were looking for a little bit of happiness, some honest work, somebody to love, someone to take care of, and who really didn’t care that much how we went about doing the exact same thing.

And then…

Nothing happened. I repeat: nothing happened. No wait, something happened. The people who built all those weapons, who advised us on how we should use them, whose job it was to convince us all that we were in immediate danger, those people got very, very rich. And they liked that. So much so that, once we realized that fighting Soviets was probably silly, they helped us find other enemies, other wars, so that we’d never have to stop being scared, and that we’d never stop buying weapons.

And the thing is, that fear has poisoned every single level of our society. So much so that large numbers of people now believe that they need multiple semi-automatic assault rifles to defend themselves against the enemy, who is, after all, going to appear at the door and steal our freedom any minute now. These people believe that they have the right to take dozens, even hundreds, of lives in one fell swoop, because those lives are different from theirs. And they do this on a regular basis, targeting innocent people who’re just trying to do that happiness thing: go to a movie, pick out a new shirt at the mall, get an education.

The purpose of a gun is to take a life. In the United States, we hand this power out as a fundamental right, to people who have no training, no license, in many cases no background check, and no accountability. Even when we do train people, like our police officers, we refuse to hold them accountable for killing other people.

This is (again, theoretically) a democracy. We the people are our government. We the people are all responsible for the deaths of thousands.

The purpose of a gun is to take a life. We can no longer use this tool within our society without that context. I, for one, am not interested in having any more blood on my hands.

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Day 2 of 365

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* No, not some nameless, faceless entity called “the government,” not President Truman, not the generals and the advisors and the scientists. This is, at least theoretically, a democratically elected government. What our leaders do, they do in the name of every single citizen. We share the triumphs, and we share the blame.

** Where “free” is true only for values of freedom that equal unbridled corporate capitalism.

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Photo of the Day (1 of 365)

A self portrait, inspired by today’s Capture Your 365 photo prompt, “Where I Stand.”

I’m not sure I love this picture. The overarching theme of this week’s photo prompts is “personal,” and this one is a bit more personal than I’m usually comfortable with. But then again, it captures me, right now, about as realistically as I can hope for, and I said I wanted to be honest! I’ve got a terrible headache. I feel tired and a bit puffy and more out of shape than I’d like. Everything around me is literally under construction. But I’m also determined to look forward, even if I have to squint to see my goals.