The other day when Trump made his cruel tweet about banning transgendered persons in the military, I got annoyed at first, then really pissed off, and then depressed. Not just because the American president is a fear-mongering childish asshole, which I was already well aware of. I saw how some people were reacting positively to it and using it as validation to spread further hate and fear-mongering as if a president’s tweet meant an immediate declaration and enactment into law, and justification for using it to fuel their cruelty to others. This happening at the same time as Texas trying to pass a law to force trans people to use an inappropriate bathroom. Words are powerful though, and can cause immediate harm when cruel intentions are given permission to run rampant.
It made me sad, then angry, then overwhelmed with thoughts of “WTF is wrong with people and their ridiculous obsession with describing the reproductive bits of others when that has absolutely NOTHING to do with anything important at all? Why are we trying to cause needless harm to others justified by lies and ignorance? Where is our compassion and humanity?”
And then what made that worse was thinking further about how these hateful and cruel people are the same ones who think it’s okay to hurt others for their own comfort and pleasure. The system of Carnism (see Dr. Melanie Joy), like Sexism and Racism, these are all social constructs and systems of oppression. And then there’s the selectively blind hypocrisy of those who recognize some systems of abuse, violence, and oppression, but only for certain groups they deem worthy of love and protection while they justify or ignore others.
My thoughts lead me to realize that I’m probably one of those “intersectional vegans” who sees the same systems of oppression, abuse, and violence happening across the board with animals and humans, and I don’t like what I see from any of them.
Veganism was born to counter Carnism, just as Feminism was born to counter Sexism, and Egalitarianism was born to counter Racism.
Not that we ever really needed labels to describe the seemingly simple concept of not being an asshole to others, but when hate and violent-thinking swing out of control and harm other innocent beings, the compassionate movements organize and push back with activism to help our Earth-siblings who lost their way to reclaim their humanity that they somehow forgot, compartmentalized, or brainwashed away. I’m sure causing harm makes perfect sense to them and they don’t see it that way, as participants of violent systems don’t think they are bad people when they are in the moment, because that’s how Cognitive Dissonance works.
An activist’s job is to remind them of who they were/are at their core. Many are genuinely good people making harmful choices out of fear, comfort, convenience, or plain ignorance. They have the power to stop perpetuating harm and start living compassionately. We have to effectively remind them of their own power to change their course and take a stand for what is kind.
So after that Trump tweet got me down, I was feeling powerless, helpless, and hopeless against all the hate in the world and thinking “what can I do?” And then I remembered my own power. My power to continue speaking out against violent systems of oppression and my power to make little choices every single day to no longer buy into these systems. With every meal, with every post or picture of compassionate living, with every person I help live more kindly to themselves and others, with every sign, conversation, and stance I take against all these oppressive and violent systems and as I encourage others to do the same, I am doing something. I am pushing back. Every day. Every moment. Every connection. Every choice. I am taking back my power.