I'm reading one of Peter Singer's books. He's one of my heroes. He has very strong controversial views and I love people with strong controversial views--well, probably more when I agree with them.
I'm not sure if I agree with ALL of his views, but so far I agree with most of those that I've read about.
I am thinking of doing several posts with quotes that I like from the book. Reading his book gives me so much to think about, and also so much I want to write about.
So, here's the first one.
It's a bit long.
I may for instance be wondering whether it is right to eat meat. I would have a better chance of reaching the right decision, or at least a soundly based decision if I knew a number of facts about the capacity of animals for suffering, and about the methods of rearing and slaughtering animals now being used. I might also want to know about the effect of a vegetarian diet on human health, and considering the world food shortage, whether more or less food would be produced by giving up meat production. Once I have got evidence on these questions, I must assess it and bring it together with whatever moral views I hold.
I don't think we should force our moral views on others. But by force, I mean physically prevent someone from doing what they feel is okay. I don't think SHARING our moral views is forcing our moral views on someone; well, especially if we are sharing our views on our personal blog, and people have the choice whether they want to read it or not. I think writing about vegetarianism on MY blog is different than lecturing a friend as she bites into her ham sandwich. It's just like I think someone has the right to write an essay that's anti-homeschooling on their blog. However, I would not be at all friendly towards someone who approaches us at the grocery store with a lecture on why Jack needs to be in school.
I don't feel I have a right to prevent other people from eating meat. That's their choice. I do think I have a right to try to educate people and correct misconceptions they might have.
I think we all have our rights to our opinions, but I think educated opinions have much more weight than uneducated opinions.
I think we need to do research on a subject before our opinion becomes truly valid. The problem is that in doing research, it's hard to sometimes separate fact from passionate opinions.
I personally find this a huge challenge whether it's regarding animal rights, male circumcision, breastfeeding, vaccination, co-sleeping, Israel, etc. A lot of books on these subjects have valuable facts, but they're sometimes clouded with manipulative writings.
I guess in the end we have to educate ourselves and filter out the bullshit. And yeah, what's bullshit to one person is beautiful gospel to another.
I'm still struggling with the animal rights issue. Giving up meat was fairly easy for me. Being Vegan was very hard and I gave it up quickly. I'm not comfortable with myself and the choices I am making right now. Do I want to go back to being full vegan? Probably not. Do I want to stay vegetarian, but cut back on dairy and eggs? Do I want to eat dairy and eggs, but make sure it doesn't come from a factory farm? I really don't know right now. I'm confused and struggling with these issues.
Here's a confession. The library had another book by Peter Singer. Animal Liberation. I didn't get it. I was too scared to read it. I thought it would make me feel too guilty. I was a coward. I thought the book would make me feel bad. Ignorance is bliss. Knowledge can make us feel like total crap.
There are blogs on my blogroll that sometimes make me feel uncomfortable. At times I don't enjoy reading them. I could say negative things about these people. Stop pushing your opinions down my throat. You have no right to write things on your blog that make me feel uncomfortable! You're being intolerant of people who make difference choices than you.
I don't do that though because I feel that they have a right to their opinions, especially since their opinions sound very well-thought out and educated. I think some of their ideas are a bit too extreme for my tastes, but if I can take what they say with a grain of salt, I think I can use the information from their blogs to help me make some improvements in my own lifestyle choices.
None of us can be perfect. I think it's virtually impossible to live a life in a way that never indirectly harms others.
I don't think any of this is about ENDING suffering. I think the best we can do as individuals is REDUCE suffering.