Change Yourself and Change the World | The very essence of human life is surely our amazing ability to grow, to develop, and to create something more out of ourselves than empirical evidence would suggest was possible. But we only grow as human beings in direct proportion to our willingness to accept change If death can be defined as the cessation of conscious control of change, then life has to be precisely the opposite – a continual manifestation of this near-miraculous human talent to control and change our individual and collective destinies. Judged by this standard, not many people could be said to be truly alive at the moment.
‘Let the great world spin for ever
down the ringing grooves of change.
– Tennyson, Locksley Hall
Change Yourself and Change the World
And yet this ability is one of our fundamental birthrights perhaps the essential quality that distinguishes us from other animals. As a species, we assumed control of our destiny two million years ago, when our ancestors rose to the challenge presented to them by an increasingly hostile environment.
Their choice was stark – evolve, or perish. Now, we face the same decision again. Change has never been easy for Homo sapiens, and we have always had to be prodded quite hard by nature (or circumstances, if you prefer), before we would do very much about it. Well, the prods are getting much, much sharper now. We are faced with many grave and insistent problems, which we ignore only at our most extreme peril.
Our species is being ravaged by degenerative diseases on a scale that we have never seen before Many of our fellow beings are dying because some of our number choose to consume far more of our earth’s food resources than their need entitles them to.
And the way we treat the creatures that share this planet with us reveals that many of us are still immature enough to believe that all other lifeforms are basically second-class, and only matter in as much as they amuse or make themselves useful to us.
Change Yourself! It’s Time to Decide
Our world is fast approaching crisis point. Each of us has to decide where we stand – to choose between change or no-change. For all practical purposes, it’s a decision between life and death/or, in more dramatic terms, between good and evil. The battle lines have never before been so clearly drawn, nor so unequally balanced.
On the side of no change are all the tyrants, despots, power-hungry, selfish and short-sighted people of the world, who will resist any challenge to their dominion. These people and there are many of them) share a common unspoken philosophy – they believe that humans have no obligations to each other, nor to their fellow creatures, nor to the planet as a whole.
They believe that might is Right, and that the strongest has license to exploit the weakest. This is how one of their number presents their case: “The beast of prey is the highest form of active life’ wrote the Nazi philosopher Oswald Spengler in 1931.
‘It represents a mode of living which requires the extreme degree of the necessity of fighting, conquering, annihilating, self-assertion. The human race ranks highly because it belongs to the class of beasts of prey.
Therefore we find in man the tactics of life proper to a bold, cunning beast of prey. He lives engaged in aggression, killing, annihilation. He wants to be master in as much as he exists:
Change Yourself! The Older Wisdom
Even the most optimistic of us have to admit that Spengler’s doctrine of evil is a pervasive force that shapes our society to a large extent at the moment. Nevertheless, there is an older universal wisdom which suggests that things might not have to be this way.
The Cherokee Indians have a tribal myth that says that humans once lived in perfect harmony with all their fellow creatures and plants, and all of them could speak to each other. In China, the Taoist Chuang Tsu wrote in the fourth century BC. of a past ‘age of virtue’ when all humankind lived a common co-operative life with the birds and the beasts.
Through folly or evil
And in Greece, the philosopher Empedocles wrote of a ‘golden age an age of love when no altar was wet with the shameful slaughter of bulls, and he maintainedthat the primal sin was man’s slaughter of animals. Many cultures, in fact, have ancient myths that speak of an early period (usually the earliest) of their existence and tell how, through folly or evil. humankind fell from a state of grace and equality with all creatures and became a tyrant and despot.
The Old Testament tells us that the world that God creates is, initially, perfect. It is quite clear that in this perfect state, it is not intended for humans to eat the flesh of other creatures.
God says in bible!
“Behold I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon
the face of the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree
yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat:
It is only after Man has been expelled from the garden of Eden, that he starts killing for food. Other primitive cultures have essentially similar tales of a fall from a once perfect state of universal kinship.
The question is – how do we go about reclaiming Eden?
Change Yourself – Change the World
The act of gathering, preparing and eating food is one of the most fundamental in any form of human society. It is so basic that much of the time, we forget just how important it is to us, both individually and as a species. It is, in fact, the bedrock that underlies most forms of human economic and political activity. So what happens if we
begin to make some pretty basic changes to the way we go about feeding ourselves?
Well, plenty happens. On a personal and purely physical level. you should start to feel in better shape. But that’s just the beginning, because the implications of what you’re doing will spread far beyond your immediate environment.
Long way to go
At this point the cynics will tell us that were foolish to believe such ideas because the world can’t be changed just by one person giving up eating meat. Well, maybe it can’t.
But it’s the first step. We have a long way to go but it is only the first step that is really difficult, If we don’t take that first step the alternative is simply to give up the struggle and abandon our world to the darkness that threatens it ‘In a just cause said Sophocles in 401 BC, the weak will beat the strong
Change Yourself! We Can Change Things for the Better
Let’s talk about specifics. Here are just some of the benefits – immediate real and tangible – that will start to occur as more and more people in this country take control of this crucial area of their lives and start to kick the flesh food habit.
- We will import far less grain for animal food. Britain could be self- sufficient in grain if we didn’t feed so much to our food animals At the moment, we spend over £4000 million every year on importing food and feedstuff from overseas, and we feed our farm animals an amount of grain equivalent to the total amount that we presently grow in this country.
Diet-related disease will drop dramatically
- The process of intensification of food production will be reversed allowing more people to be employed (we won’t need to be quite so ruthlessly efficient as we are at the moment, because we will be able to directly us vastly more of the food we do produce instead of wasting most of it by feeding it to meat animals)
- A declining market for animal feed and animal flesh will allow developing countries to concentrate on what they need to produce for themselves rather than on what they hune to produce for the greedy West (as recently as 1984 Britain was importing over a million pounds worth of animal feed and flesh from – of all places Ethiopia)
- With more of the energy being put into the process of food production coming from human, rather than fossil-fuel sources, we will be able to use our dwindling natural energy resources in a more productive way.
- Once-effective human medicines will again be able to be used on humans, with far less fear of antibiotic resistance.
- Less official food-price manipulation will be necessary, which at the moment results in the nonsensical surpluses of the EEC. Farmers will be more responsive to real public demands.
Change Yourself! Grain prairies
- The ‘grain prairies’ of the main cereal-growing regions will become a thing of the past, as we no longer need to force the land to produce every last grain it can (to try and compensate for the gross inefficiency of the vegetablelanimal protein conversion process). More variety of vegetable crops will be
grown, in response to consumer demand, and the countryside will be able to return to its pre-factory farming days.
All these things, and more, are within our grasp – if we start now.
The Turning Point.
The next step is up to you. By changing your own life, you will begir to change the world – not a dramatic change, but a significant change. And then what next? I hope – and believe – you may want to take things further.
The American philosopher Tom Regan summec this up very clearly when he wrote: ‘Merely to content oneself with personal abstention (from animal meat) is to become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution’ In other words, it’s not enough to just kick the flesh food habit – once you’ve found the way for yourself, you also have a duty to spread the word to other people How can you do this?
Here are some ideas for you to change
- Think about setting up a self-help group in your locality. Many many people are interested in the idea of going meat-free, but they don’t know where to start. I have been to meetings which have attracted over 200 people! For hints on organization, see the Resource Directory.
- Consider running for getting your local education authority to organize) classes in meat-free cooking. These can be a lot of fun very social occasions and give valuable advice and experience.
- Ask a journalist on your local paper to think about setting up a regular meat free recipe column.
- Get your local radio station to feature a recipe andior discussion once a month or so
- See if other local organizations (Women’s Institute Round Table etc) would like to organize a ‘taste-in’:
There are many other individual ways too in which you can be a positive force for change – from just lending a book or two to friends to going out and addressing public meetings yourself. It all counts and moves this world one step closer to the next, and most exciting, stage in the human race’s history. Good luck!