Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Half-hearted Fanatic

John likes to give me grief for not speaking more often about controversial topics on my blog. Stuart doesn't think my, or anyone's, opinions are important. Phil suggests you need to really get in touch with your own identity first, and deal with your specific flavour of rubbish before you can help anyone. Sindile and Brett are happy to get stuck full throttle into taboo topics. Gemma has given me various books to rethink my framework of how I think. So, to answer John... my Pregnant Silence on really difficult issues is because there are heaps of really smart people who think I am flat out wrong on the tiny slice of issues I think I know a little about. One of the things I think is that we aren't actually biologically capable of wrapping our head round some issues.

I see the point of striking out with strong opinions. Then detaching and joining the attack on your own ideas. The problem is, it does tend to alienate people. A lot of writing is purposefully aggressive rather than constructive because writers are trying to spark fires and be punchy. If you read a strongly worded opinion, the chances are you either almost agree with it already, or it pushes you further away. The advantage of actual, in-person, conversation is that you have context. You opinion gets flavoured by a discussion. You say one point. You listen. You ask. You build on each others thoughts. You earn the right to be critical by proving first that you are on the same side. You play Ping Pong. Quite often in more public platforms, we just launch into gazillion point diatribes laced with vitriol and a small dollop of 'why is everyone else so stupid?'.

Twitter, for example, is structured to be conversational. Yet lots of people still use it as a broadcast mechanism for their opinions. There isn't a lot of teasing out of ideas.

But... for you John, I'll go there. Yes, I do think the 'Pregnant Silence' you talk of is a huge issue. I keep an eye on the World Population Clock, but it would be useful if the 21 Billion Chickens, 1 Billion Pigs, and 1.5 Billion Cattle were added to that. I have been slowly trying to tweak my diet and learn more vegetarian dishes. But I have been doing Yoga for 6 years, have lots of Vegan or Vegetarian friends, and guys like you making me watch movies which show things I can't unsee. Still, I have found cutting meat out of my diet near impossible. I am convinced by the intellectual and emotional issues... primarily around Factory Farming and Environmental Sustainability. Most people haven't even started that journey and aren't surrounded by those types of friends. We have to be those friends.

I am more a Pragmatist than a Crusader. As our buddy Galeo described it... a 'halfhearted fanatic'. I don't think it is that relevant if I change my behaviour, but alienate a bunch of people in the process. I think we need to act in a Theatre Sport fashion. Build on what people already think. Don't try convince people with logic. Don't wait for an argument you know will be weak. Don't be depressed by Pregnant Silences when people feel overwhelmed by daunting challenges they have no desire to think about, or knowledge of how to respond to. We all only have a certain amount of energy, and tend to focus on our own pet projects.

I reckon the way you are doing it is spot on. Cutting out the Full Chicken meal at Nandos that you used to love, because the thing you really loved was the inappropriate conversations you had while eating like a caveman. Cavemen also ates roots. Learning to cook incredibly tasty food that just happens to include no meat. Sharing recipes with friends. There is a tipping point. The more restaurants offer awesome alternatives, and the more we can cook mouthwatering (and sustainable) plant based meals, the easier it becomes to cut meat out. I think it is going to feel like we are making no progress, and then the dams will burst. Boom baby.

A Medieval Attachment to Meat

People were panicking about the human population explosion in the 1970s. But the Green Revolution saved millions of lives. We are smart, innovative bags of meat and bones. We will figure out how to solve this problem. One less Chicken at a time.
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