A Push for Flexible Morality

If you have five minutes to spare, I invite you to read this article.

Don’t worry. I’ll wait…

Okay, are you back? Good, because I have a lot to say on the topic. But you knew that, right? If you didn’t get to read the article, the long and short of it is that vegetarians shouldn’t beat themselves up when they decide to have a pork chop or two when amongst friends – in fact, they should feel obligated to do so just to show others that veganism and vegetarianism is “flexible.” You know, to make people comfortable around it… and therefore low-key encouraging others to give part-time vegetarianism a try.

There are so many things wrong with the author’s position in this article. Just at the surface, I find the concept of vegetarians being encouraged, nay, guilted into breaking their own moral code for the sake of others to be so misguided. From the article: “So the vegetarian guest eating meat when offered has probably shown the host that it is possible to be a (flexible) vegetarian and, at the same time, occasionally enjoy some meat without feeling guilty.” In reality, could doing so inspire others to adopt the vegetarian lifestyle if they see that it’s not such a rigid or strict discipline? Doubtful. Like with most things in life, people eat what they eat for a reason and they will change their lifestyle only when they’re ready and for reasons of their own, not because they saw a vegetarian breaking their own personal code of ethics at that dinner party last week.

My own response to this article?  It is NOT the guest’s job to convince the host or any other guest to become vegetarian, nor is it their obligation to be flexible in order to show that others can eat less meat while still maintaining a sort-of, kind-of vegetarian lifestyle.

I feel the article gives a negative portrayal of vegetarians, assuming every one of them brings a soapbox to stand on wherever they go because it’s their civic duty to coax people over to their side. But I can only really speak for myself. Do I wish people would eat less meat (or no meat at all)? Yes. Do I tell them to eat that way? No. They’re adults. They can make up their own minds on what they want to eat. But if someone is curious and asks me about vegetarianism, I’m more than happy to give them information as to why that particular diet appeals to me.

But it’s not my job to show others that vegetarianism can be flexible and therefore “easier” to the masses. Why should a vegetarian anyone be forced or encouraged or guilted into doing something that makes them physically, mentally, and emotionally ill — and is contrary to everything they believe in — just to show someone else it can be done?

To me, what should’ve been addressed is the host’s lack of manners for forgetting the dietary restrictions of a guest they presumably like and respect enough to ask to dinner. In case you didn’t read the article, the whole point that started this conversation was that the fictitious host and/or hostess forgot their guest was a vegetarian and therefore gave them a pork chop to eat. I also find it odd that out of all the meats out there in the world, they chose pork chops. But I digress.

Back to the whole “flexibility” thing… every vegetarian and vegan has their own reason for choosing that kind of diet, not least of which is to do their part in ending animal suffering. Contrary to all the jokes and memes out there, this is not a trivial reason. Some people are vegetarians for religious reasons. Does the author expect flexibility when it’s for religious reasons? Or is it only when it’s for other, non-religious, reasons? I wasn’t aware that morals were flexible, or rather, that it’s not a big deal if they are flexible. I mean, basically, the writer is asking a vegetarian to be flexible in their morals just to be polite to a host.

Then, the writer tells vegetarians to take heart in the decision to go against their beliefs and strongly held “code of ethics” because it could — could, mind you — have the positive effect of showing others that vegetarianism can be do-able for those who still want to eat meat sometimes. That’s a hell of a lot of responsibility for one person who simply does not eat meat, if you ask me.

Show and tell on the part of a dinner guest is not and should not be necessary to get this point across and I think it’s appalling to expect otherwise.

 

Free to Good Home

While I understand the importance of Mom & Pop stores and relish the experience of finding a hidden gem in the aisles of an old, cramped market with squeaky wooden floors, I must admit that I am often very grateful that shopping can be so easy thanks to the Internet. It’s such a vast and comprehensive shopping resource these days that it’s possible to find just about anything you can think up. Gold-plated staplers. A singing salmon in the likeness of Sammy Davis, Jr. A box of 10,000 fish oil pills. Just type in whatever your mind can think up and sure enough somebody, somewhere out there has got one to sell to you.

When I say “whatever,” I used to put in automatic caveats. There’s certain things you simply can’t browse for online. No, I’m not talking about illegal stuff like drugs and guns. I have heard about the so-called “Dark Web” and although I have no clue how to find it (nor do I even want to) I am not naïve enough to think that dangerous goods can’t also be found with just a few easy clicks of the mouse.

I used to think that people, aka human beings, were one of those resources that the Internet would stay away from out of some sort of moral stance. Then online dating began. Then Russian Brides became a thing. Then Asian Brides Online. Then Oksana Love. The list of buy-a-bride sites goes on and on and covers virtually every country.

OK, I thought, so you can purchase a spouse online. Surely that’s as far as even the Internet dares to go. Children have to be off-limits. Oh, how wrong I was. Check out this link.

Yes, this is a real Facebook group where pictures of children up for adoption are posted (often with the word AVAILABLE in all caps at the start of the post). These are not just children up for a “regular” adoption mind you. These are children who have been adopted and their current parents want to re-home them because they are no longer wanted for whatever reason. Yes. You read that right.  Re-homing children.

Have we really turned into such a disposable society? It’s bad enough that animals are euthanized by the millions in shelters, but now we have kids being plastered up on Facebook walls like products that are on sale at your local Best Buy.  Or more like Craigslist. The really sad part is that this group is NOT an uncommon thing.  It’s just one of many public forums that act the same as shelter sites advertising dogs and cats. The only difference is that instead of checking out a 9 month old beagle/poodle mix that was saved from a drug den, you’re perusing pictures of a human child up for sale to see if he or she piques your interest.

You may think I’m exaggerating if you don’t go to the site and look for yourself. I assure you, I’m not. The wording in these ads is strikingly familiar to those you’d find on a dog rescue site, and hit just as close to home for anyone with a caring heart. Loves to play, gets along well with others, no behavioral problems, affectionate, listens. And the implied, or outright declared, reasons excuses for re-homing were no better.  I know I sure got a sense of déjà vu from the excuses running rampant throughout the site.

One boy’s ad states: “We would especially hope that the new family will have one stay at home parent to help him get bonded to your family, although this is not required. His current adoptive parents both work.” This child has apparently been with his family for over a year. He’s four. FOUR. I can only imagine parenting took more of their time than they expected.

Another claims a ten-year old child who has been in his home for over five years “needs more one-on-one attention than is available in his home. He loves sports however his family is not a sports-type family, and his parents are a bit older. So it is believed that a younger, more active home would work better.”  Right.

It breaks my heart that this is the new normal. This is the way our society works if it wants to move a product. Toaster? Car? Six year old girl from a broken home? Put ’em up online. Someone will bite.

Kids certainly are hard work. Trust me, I’ve had two! But that’s why mental health specialists, doctors, and therapists exist if there are behavioral problems.  Which might not even be the case with the kids on this one particular Facebook page…they all seem GREAT given their descriptions…maybe the parents just got overwhelmed with parenting and decided it simply wasn’t for them. Who knows? But to me posting an ad up on freakin’ Facebook to re-home your goddamned kid is a failure on the part of the parent no matter how you look at it, not the child.

I wonder if these kids know they’re being offered up on social media the same way a puppy is. Do they have to go thru visits with prospective families and show off their wares and hope that the next one “sticks?”  A part of me hopes they’re in “ignorance is bliss” camp because otherwise, how utterly devastating for a child this must be.

Veggie Woes

Ask me if I’m vegetarian and I’m not exactly sure what I’ll say on any given day. I try, but I fail as often as I succeed. I think it’s easier to be a vegetarian if you truly don’t like the taste of meat, which is not me. Some meat is really tasty so I have no physical aversion to it.

So I’m not trying to be vegetarian because I look at meat and think, “Ewww, that looks gross.” I’m trying to go vegetarian for ethical reasons and while my intent is strong, my will power is weak. I’m not going to lie; it’s a bit of a struggle. I was raised with meat as a pillar of a balanced diet. The necessity of meat has been drilled into me from a lifetime of food choices. I’m trying to change the patterns I’ve learned over the decades, but it’s hard and I’m far from perfect. Though I am making progress I’m glad to say.

When my resolve does start to cave I like thinking about a dear friend of mine who is a devout vegetarian for spiritual reasons. She believes that every animal has a soul and, by God, you just don’t eat something with a soul. It all seems so simple to her—this kooky no-soul-eating concept— that I just sit back and admire her. Her devotion and conviction are unflappable. I wonder how I can get to be like that. It’s not that I don’t share her beliefs. I’m totally on board with the idea that all animals have souls, but still, I’m fighting a deeply engrained sense of eating normalcy from my childhood. Or maybe that’s a cop-out and I’m just weak-willed. Regardless of the reason, I’m trying. I’m trying yet failing which buries me in guilt because I can’t practice what I preach.

Having a somewhat imaginative mind I’ve wondered what would happen if someone lived her entire life 100% meat free and living a spiritually clean life respecting all animals around her until the day some villainous ne’er-do-well slipped a piece of meat in her food without her knowing. Or what if she eats a salad that unbeknownst to her had some meat by-product in it? Whatever the circumstance, the lifetime of being ethically nutritious comes crashing down unexpectedly. Should she be consumed by guilt? Is her soul at risk? Personally, I don’t see how. Shouldn’t it be the true intent and not the accidental act that matters? She still gets a primo seat in the cushy part of the afterlife as far as I’m concerned.

But me? I know exactly what I’m eating when I’m eating it. I know when I have meat on my plate. I can’t plead ignorance. This is perhaps more evidence to add to the ever-growing list as to why I’m going to the fiery underworld after I leave this earth. If you’re interested in perhaps joining my friend in the VIP section of the afterlife, I’d start by reading her blog. She has a quick wit and a real way with words. You won’t be disappointed.

If you want to join me in the afterlife spitfire, go get yourself a Double Down Dog and I’ll see you there.

FB Cleavage (Or with friends like these, who needs enemies)

Riddle me this: What would you do if you were clowning around on the internet, maybe visiting the very popular site Reddit, and saw a picture of yourself posted with lewd comments about you from strangers across the country? The picture itself may not be lewd. It might be a shot of when you were at a baseball game wearing a t-shirt of your favorite team. All that you know is that you did not put that picture on the site and you do not know any of the people who have leered at it. Spoilers: this site gets all of its material from so-called “friends” on Facebook.

Sounds like make-believe, right? You shouldn’t have to worry about anything like that happening because, c’mon, has our society really sunk that low? Oh wait, yes, yes it has. The Huffington Post wrote a report a while back (but I just happened about it recently) about a new page on Reddit called “Facebook Cleavage.”  Its creepiness is very simple. As the name implies it’s a page where anyone with Internet access can view women – most of whom are sporting  various degrees of cleavage or have on short shorts, are maybe just have pigtails, or possibly wearing roller skates, all of the strange and sometimes incomprehensible tropes that men supposedly find desirable – at their leisure and sans consequence. Oh, but it gets better.

These women are not models. Or at least that appears to be the primary goal of the site. I’d venture to say that most of them (upwards of 99.9% of them) don’t even have a clue that their picture is even on this page. How gross is that? What makes it even worse is that if you go to the site you won’t be inundated by images of models laying seductively on the beach in string bikinis or bending over the hood of a car with garden hoses in their hands. No, these are just regular pictures of women on vacation, taking selfies, partying with friends, in a restaurant, wherever. Yes, they’re sexy.  That’s the point.

In short, this page only exists to objectify women who, in all likelihood, don’t even know their photos are on the site. And before you even go there — no, it’s not the woman’s fault for posting a photo of herself in a bikini or taking a selfie shot that exposes her cleavage or god forbid that photo of her and her friends at a party.  It’s one thing when a woman decides to post a photo to her Facebook wall. That’s her choice.  It certainly doesn’t mean anyone and everyone should be able to then steal it and post it willy-nilly wherever they want. But that’s exactly what’s happening.  What I can only assume are mostly guys are now stealing those photos and plastering them on a page meant only to soothe voyeuristic tendencies.

Obviously the pictures can only be posted by friends of the girls (or whoever might be privy to their Facebook timeline), but what kind of “friend” does this? Okay, so did I mention the creepy factor behind this whole venture? If not, now is a good time to bring up the “ick” factor of having these kinds of friends.

The page, in a terribly transparent attempt at decency, has a set of five rules but even that goes down in flames pretty quickly. They are as follows:

1. Find sexy pictures of your hot Facebook friends. Upload the pictures to imgur.com, and submit them here.

2. Doesn’t have to be cleavage. Any sexy pic will do.

3. Don’t post pics that don’t come from Facebook. You will be banned.

4. Only post people of age. Underage posts will be removed. And user banned. Report underage posts to the mods.

5. Please don’t mention real names.

Notice that none of these rules have anything whatsoever to do with getting permission from the girl before you post. Apparently, that’s not anything to be concerned about. I mean really, why would it be?

I have no idea how much traffic this page gets (I’m sure it’s a lot), but just the mere fact that it exists is enough to make me shake my head.  And again, it really makes me wonder just what kind of person would look at their friend’s Facebook photos and decide, “Hey, I know! I’ll steal this private photo of my friend and post it for everyone on the internet to see and ogle!”  With friends like that, who the hell needs enemies?