“I don’t want Violet to become a complacent adult...” That’s how I ended yesterday’s post, with the hope that I could instill in my daughter some sense of responsibility for the world and the living things in it. I think anyone would agree that it’s a worthy goal, but me being me, I also fret about her going too far the other way; I want her to know when to compromise, too. Take being vegan. Linda and I (and therefore, Violet) have decided to forgo eating or using animal products, because we want something better for the environment, the animals, and our health. I know some would consider this “going too far the other way”, but we’ve been doing it long enough to have it no longer feel out of the ordinary. It’s part of our routine, and it really is the most powerful personal step we can make for the three things I mentioned. So, being vegan is the choice we make, but even with that choice, we have to compromise. If we were to follow the vegan lifestyle completely and without compromise, we couldn’t take certain medicines, enjoy fireworks, or ride in most vehicles with tires because of the animal products within them. And if our main goals include improving the planet and saving animals, our plan will have to include showing people how moving in a more vegan direction is not only possible, but enjoyable, too. Sitting home on the Fourth of July, walking everywhere in the wintertime, or dying from a treatable disease are not ways to sway those around us.
So, I hope to teach Violet two things: 1. To picture the world as she knows it could be and 2. To be smart enough to figure out the most effective ways to bring the world closer to that image; ways that will allow her to live a full and enjoyable life – compromises and all.
And to that end, most importantly, I want her to realize that everyone is making unseen compromises and not to judge those around her too harshly. I think of this when I see friends – friends who I know care deeply about the planet – eat meat or refuse to recycle, and I want to say something, but then I read an article telling me that when I mow the lawn with my gas powered lawn mower for an hour, I befoul the air with as much pollution as 11 cars. So many of us, me included, say or think one thing while unwittingly doing something in the opposite direction. I'm pretty sure all of us have cracks in the foundations of our moral pedestals. I know I do, and I can choose to ignore them or cover them up all I want, but they’re still there. Better to expose the cracks for all to see, and just do what I can to change myself, making the choices I believe to be right and showing those around me the joy in that, having faith that they’ll follow suit. It’s not the compromises that matter so much as the effort that’s made, the message that’s sent, and the example that’s set.
Is this too much to hope for Violet to understand at seven months old? Maybe I should wait a few years to dump all this on her. Better yet, I’ll break it down into something simpler: To paraphrase a wise man, I want her to realize that the she must become the change she wants to see in the world.
Animal ingredients in strange places: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/11/9-products-you-did-not-know-had-animal-ingredients.php
The power of food choices: http://www.veganoutreach.org/globalwarming.html
Personal view vs. real change: http://whyveganoutreach.blogspot.com/2011/03/nick-cooney-q3-personal-views-vs-real.html