Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Necessary Evils

Compromise is an art, a craft, and a slippery slope. We, as individuals and as communities, make compromises everyday to make life work. Successful endeavours rely as much on adaptability as ability. Having firm values and morals may define us as humans but pragmatism earmarks our species. The facade of civilization is held up by a scaffolding of compromise.

Shirt from Threadless. Yes, it's pink.

So, for example, butchering animals in order to eat meat meets every definition of murder in our society. It ends the life of another living thing. It is premeditated (unless you're into scavenging roadkill). It is not in self-defense. And we are pretty much guaranteed to offend again. PossibIy that very same day. It is not really necessary for our basic survival but it *is* in our nature. Humans are omnivores. Our teeth tell us so. And our brains have made us top of the food chain... and probably the ultimate demise of the planet but that's another compromise we make.  We can claim ignorance and indulgence and urban-living but I don't. I know where my steak comes from (in theory). I recognize that the chickens from whence the succulent thigh meat in my slow cooker comes from don't get pensions or wheelchairs or amputee benefits. My continued existence means that other creatures will cease to exist. That's a truth I accept. But, to be fair, I am a serial killer of fruits and vegetables too.

Which doesn't mean that I am anti-vegetarian. Some of my very close friends are vegetarian, even vegan. It's a choice I respect and a lifestyle I admire but don't aspire to. However, even within the vegetarian population I find compromise and diversity. To generalize, I find people who live the vegan life to be more values-driven. They do not consume animal products as a matter of principle. Vegetarians who are not vegan are more likely in my experience to make their decision based on health-sourced arguments. And many of my vegetarian friends put aside their dietary restrictions when they travel whereas my vegan friends ... well, mostly they lose a lot of weight when they are living abroad. But that's a choice too.

The fact that choice is a double-edged sword, the ultimate necessary evil, is probably the most important point I want to make today. Consciously knowing why you made the choice you made is a close second. And respecting other people's right to choose for themselves pulls in to show on the radar too. Today, Americans have a chance to make a choice by voting for their president. Many will choose not to and that's kind of sad but that's also a kind of choice and remains a compromise our society makes in order to maintain our freedom to choose.