Friday, May 3, 2013
Did you know that vegans possess: Superior knowledge? Uncanny intuitive abilities? A new emotional spectrum? The ability to perform feats of uncommon cunning? Being a vegan in this world is a little like being a circus performer in that we have quirky little idiosyncrasies that are uniquely ours, though ours are adapted by swimming against the current in our culture. Some traits are impressive and useful, others are simply bizarre and perhaps annoying, but all of them are interesting.
As a vegan, you alone understand...
* The concern that you may actually be creating a new lung disease from inhaling too much nutritional yeast.
* That feeling of being super-excited when someone tells you that she is thinking about giving up meat but you feel like you have to sit on your hands to not start jumping around in excitement so instead, you pretend to be all blasé while you’re mentally checking off every link you are going to send her.
* When you go to your first all-vegan event and you know that you can eat anything there but you still can’t stop asking if everything is vegan because you are so used to having to do that. Oh, and then you end up eating every speck of food you can get your hands on just because it’s vegan.
* You sometimes want to tell the rest of the world that vegans totally knew kale before everyone else did.
* You are the one who your co-worker goes to when her cousin wants to ask some questions because her ex-tennis partner is considering going vegan but is worried because she heard soy will kill her.
* You learn about a new vegan cheese that’s just The Best! and you’re all “Z!O!M!G!how-can-i-get-some?!” and you spend all day trying to track some down unsuccessfully but it’s all forgotten when you hear about the new vegan Butterfingers-style candy bar and then you spend another day in fruitless pursuit of that instead. You console yourself knowing that tomorrow there will be something else you can’t get until the novelty has worn off.
* When your best friend breaks up with the “last hetero vegan male on earth,” you listen to a Colleen Patrick-Goudreau podcast together over a box of tissues and some Fair-Trade chocolates before helping her create a new profile on a vegan dating site.
* The anxiety you feel when dining out with a group of meat-eaters and the idea to order ”family style” is brought up.
* You have a habit of scoping out someone else’s animal product-free grocery cart (“cart snooping”) when you’re in the checkout line and then trying to figure out a non-creepy icebreaker to find out if he’s vegan. You're not even sure why you need to know this.
* You can skim a label, a menu and a recipe like you’ve graduated magna cum laude from the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics program. Relatedly, you can look at any recipe and see within moments how easily you can modify it to being vegan.
* Upon hearing that a celebrity is vegan, you’re all like, “Yeah, right. Not falling for that one again. Next!”
* The first thing you look at with a pair of shoes you like is not the price but the manufacturer’s tag inside it. (I don’t have to explain this because the vegans will understand.)
* You align yourself with the Abolitionists and you are not even a Civil War reenactor.
* The server at your local Thai place automatically repeats back to you, “Tofu, no fish sauce, no eggs,” before you even order.
* You consciously route out your trip through the grocery store so you won’t have to pass the corpses.
* If you are a freelance writer, you refer to animals as “he” and “she” and this is duly noted by your editor but whatever. She can take out your pronouns but you won’t.
* The first thing you look at when you visit another vegan’s home is her cookbook collection, which might even be more impressive than your own, you note with awe.
* Your egg salad sandwich that supposedly tastes “JUST like eggs!” probably won't to omnivores but that’s perfectly okay. (Similarly, when we say, “You can’t taste the difference,” about anything we make, well, that’s probably not true but, again, perfectly okay.)
* You understand that if you arrive at the vegan potluck even ten minutes after people start eating, all that will be left for you to eat are some oily craisins at the bottom of a bowl so you always arrive early to, um, help set up.
* When you see children eating red popsicles and you know that in addition to the high fructose corn syrup, they are eating tiny cochineal insects.
* You possess an encyclopedic knowledge of every way in which humans abuse other animals.
* You understand that building excitement as you are reading the ingredients on a label but then the crushing disappointment when you are 3/4 of the way through reading it and you see the words “whey” or “lanolin.”
* You bring your own food when you visit your parents, even if you’re only there for a couple of hours. You also find yourself in the rare role reversal of admonishing your parents to eat their vegetables.
* When the only item a restaurant offers is a hummus wrap, it feels like an act of aggression against your very person.
* When you and your vegan friends talk about someone you know who is an ex-vegan, your somber, hushed tones makes it sound like you’re talking about somebody who has died in a horrible accident. Conversely, it may sound like the person is an axe murderer.
* You automatically can name a couple of vegan restaurants in practically every major (as well as some minor) U.S. city whether you’ve been there not. You may even be very familiar with the menu, weekly specials, and Yelp rating.
All this and more...
Posted by Marla at 8:06 AM
Thursday, April 25, 2013
I’ve been told my whole life that I’d give up or grow out of my convictions. Certainly, there are a lot of things I’ve grown out of, for example:
* Ding-Dong-Ditch and prank phone calls
* The Electric Company and my membership in the Sonny and Cher Fan Club
* Grape Fanta and Bubble Yum
* Black fingernail polish and purple hair dye
* Bad-for-me boyfriends and waking up with hangovers
These things come and go, as they should. The idea of dropping my core values like they are last year’s embarrassing fashion trend, though, is something entirely different. I have been assured by people most of my life that I would do just that, though. Quite simply, they were wrong.
When I was fifteen and a new vegetarian, I was told in no uncertain terms that I would go back to meat the first time I really craved a hamburger, and I was told as a young feminist activist that when I eventually understood “how the world works,” I would just learn to accept it. Neither of these predictions repeated to me as fact by so many people came true. At all. As a new vegan, I was told by countless people that I would abandon my veganism once it stopped being convenient and as a new mother, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to sustain my goals of breastfeeding and cloth-diapering.
These gloomy forecasts were repeated to me in a matter-of-fact, confident manner by those who, by their own accounts, had tried and failed to maintain those same aspirations. People who had once been “like me” took it upon themselves to debrief me on my inevitable future defeat, letting me know that eventually, I would settle into a comfortable place of acquiescence with the Real World, just as they had. I’d be humbled. I’d realize that these were just impulsive, ill-considered whims. In the mean time, my puerile zest was kind of sweet and adorable.
There are some key designations society tries to affix to those who reject the status quo. One is that it is arrogant to do so, and another is that it is naive. There are some even more cynical insinuations about those of us who are guided by our values, implying that it means we are self-absorbed, rude, immature, attention-seeking. The skeptics can pull the “I was once like you so I can speak of this with authority” card to try to legitimize their opinions and get the final word. “I know better than you because I once was you,” as one former vegetarian told me.
Why are people often so resentful of values-driven action? Why is our society so dead-set on trampling down those who are being led by their passions and values? Why do those of us with deep convictions ignite a desire in so many others to keep us in our place even if we are just minding our own business? What is behind this pessimistic drive?
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to reconnect with old friends in recent years and it’s so interesting to me how many tell me the same thing after we’ve caught up with each other: “You haven’t changed.” Not in a negative way but in an admiring way. Even after becoming a mother, even after a few grey hairs, even when it can no longer be attributable it to naiveté, I am still who I always was. I can only wonder, though, why I wouldn’t still be passionate about the things I cared about when they first knew me. What does this say about us, and society’s expectations of us, as we mature beyond that first blush of our enthusiasm?
Our society considers idealism and convictions to be endearing but childish qualities that we will eventually grow out of, once the we’ve been disappointed too many times or had enough of life’s hard lessons knock them out of us. There are those of us, though, who have been disappointed plenty and who have had lots of life experiences and yet we still retain our core values. Why are we perceived as such rarities? I have to say, I’ve only felt my beliefs and determination flourish over the years, the fire burning brighter as I check days off the calendar. Yes, the rougher edges that come with youthful zeal have been softened some, and I can certainly accept the complex nuances of human behavior more now than I did as a neophyte. Instead of knocking me down, though, life’s turbulence just serves to make me less easily distracted and more focused on the things that excite me and bring me joy, which, naturally, includes some things people think I would have grown out of long ago. Do I have a preternatural discipline? An iron will? I wish I could say so but, no, I don’t. I am just living proof that there is no reason that our unique ethical drives, as personal to us as our own fingerprints, should be expected to wither away over time. We still retain our fingerprints as we grow older. Why shouldn’t we still have our unique passions?
I think that one belief that might age us most is accepting the false dichotomy that tells us that we must give up the things we love and compromise our values for what we believe we should be doing with our lives. Giving them up because of this faulty idea makes us cynical, older than our years, resentful and even suspicious of those who haven’t. When I think of people who really thrived in their elder years - Georgia O’Keefe, Howard Zinn, Gandhi, Martha Graham, Studs Terkel as well as every senior with enduring, quirky, consuming passions - all I can think is, “Thank goodness they didn’t tamper down their enthusiasm and drive in exchange for some slippers and an easy chair.” Thank goodness for that.
I have not given up my values and convictions but even as they have become more nuanced and complex over the years, they have also become more heartfelt and integrated to who I am. They have also become more personal. Giving them up would be giving up essential parts of myself and that’s not going to happen. They are still unfolding and ripening, too. I know that I am not alone with this.
Let’s hear it for never growing up. Never, ever do it. The best things in the world depend on this.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” - Anne Frank
Will we ever collectively grow out of our most cruel and violent impulses? Haven’t we explored slavery, war, rape, cruelty and murder enough over these many thousands of years of human existence to internalize the lesson that they are very bad things? Despite our more sophisticated language, if we strip the horrors we inflict on one another, the animals, and the earth to their essence and germ, are they any different now than they were 150 years ago or 2,000 years ago? We have some new, horrible weapons at our disposal but they are essentially born of the same twisted root.
With the Boston Marathon bombings, we are reminded again how vulnerable we all are to this dark side of our collective nature. It may be a sick and deviant side, but it has reliably made itself known throughout human history. Today, there are drones in Afghanistan, child armies in Uganda, thousands being murdered in Syria, billions of animals brutally slaughtered every year.
Will we ever evolve beyond this base, reptilian part of the brain? I don’t know. I do know that perhaps the best we can is simply keep shining the light of kindness and awareness wherever we can. As long as we are moving more forward than we are backward, this may be the most that we can hope for, really. All we can do is keep shining a light on the path toward justice and compassion and keep doing our part to move humanity in that direction.
My personal window into the dark side of human nature started in fifth grade. I was that kid who was picked on, one of many, I know, but I can only speak of my own experience.
From fifth grade through eighth grade, I was picked on and apart daily by the mean kids who prowled my school, kids whose eyes lit up with a sadistic glee when they saw me. They loudly inventoried every possible flaw I was guilty of: my hair was unkempt (so it had to follow that I had lice); my skin was a flaky, itchy mess from psoriasis; the ointment I used for the psoriasis covered my skin with a greasy film (so it was determined by a panel of my peers that I must not be bathing); I developed breasts early so open season was declared on my bra straps by the boys who sat behind me in history and English. Every day, walking into gym or the cafeteria, I felt a painful, twisty knot in the pit of my stomach: what humiliations were around the corner?
At home, believe it or not, things were worse. An alcoholic, frequently raging, and unpredictable parent tends to make the bad things in your life inevitably, incalculably worse. So every week day morning, I walked out the front door, shook off whatever had happened the night before, and entered the war zone that was my middle school. And every week day afternoon, I left the hell that was middle school - that day’s taunts and assaults against my self-esteem still reverberating in the echo chamber of my head - and returned “home” to perhaps worse. There was no true sanctuary, save for the occasional weekend with my grandparents. In seventh grade, though, my grandfather started developing dementia, so I eventually lost that, too.
Through it all, though, there were kind people. There were a few friends who thought I was funny, who never made fun of my hair, who helped me forget that most of the time I wanted to curl up and die. (God, this is depressing and revealing and uncomfortable but I hope that it serves some purpose in the end.) When nothing else could be counted on, when even my dog growled at me (which was kind of a lot because he was a gorgeous but inbred cocker spaniel), I had my friends. Perhaps because of this reason alone, I could see some glimpses of sunlight through the persistent gloom of my childhood. They risked their own security at school by being friends with the girl with the weird hair but they did it anyway. My life improved by leaps and bounds after I left my home and went to college but I will always be someone who is immensely grateful for these pockets of light, wherever I can find them. I seek them out like my cat seeks out the sunny spots on the radiator.
After college, I worked in humane education at a large animal shelter. At the shelter, I saw the best and the worst of humanity routinely. I met people who would keep dogs chained outside in the Chicago year-round with just a dirty plastic bowl of water, and I met people who would break into these horrible back yards in the middle of the night and take the dogs to place them in loving homes. I met people who turned in their 12-year-old cats because they found a great new apartment that didn’t allow pets and I met people who would be homeless before they would give up a family member. I met people who would set fire to animals and I met people who would cross busy lanes of traffic on the highway to rescue strays. Most of the people I met through working at the shelter were in the middle of this continuum but there were staggering highs and crushing lows on either side. As soon as I thought I’d lost all hope in humanity, I’d meet someone who was so compassionate and generous and truly saint-like, my hope would be more than restored. This was daily life at an animal shelter. While there, I learned that humanity is capable of shocking acts of brutality and an essential goodness that would leave me speechless, humbled, awed.
I believe that the good in humanity far outnumbers the bad and that we are the ambassadors for ushering in positive change. Keep shining your light. It may not feel like enough, you may feel crowded out by the darkness, but you are not. In the end, this light may be the only real tool we have and this is just fine because it may be the only tool we need. Keep shining it.
Posted by Marla at 9:40 AM
Monday, April 8, 2013
1. Drop a kettlebell on my foot.
2. Get pulled over for speeding with an expired license in a car that has failed the emissions test with a “Bad Cop, No Donut” bumper sticker.
3. Be the sole adult responsible for two dozen 3rd graders at a large waterpark on “free soda refills” day.
4. Learn that the guy sitting next to me on my six-hour ride airplane is an evangelist who also sells timeshares. Plus, he’s very chatty.
5. Run into an ex on sweatpants-and-shower-free Sunday.
6. Forget to bring any of my 3,068 canvas bags on the day that the teacher who runs my son’s Green Team is behind me in the checkout lane at the grocery store.
7. Notice just a little too late that the expiration date on my coconut yogurt was two weeks ago.
8. Be on a nearly empty train and have the guy who keeps muttering, twitching and scratching himself decide to sit down right next to me.
9. You know that feeling when your car seems a little louder than usual and keeps pulling in one side and you’re all like, “Please don’t let it be a flat tire,” and then you hear that flapping sound so you pull over to check and, indeed, it’s flat? I’d rather feel that.
10. Get stuck on an elevator with the guys from #4 and #8. And a small marching band.
11. Walk barefoot over a floor my son has scattered with Legos. (Wait, I already do that.)
12. Mistake the curry powder for the cinnamon on my morning oatmeal.
13. Get on the bus driven by the driver who has decided that today is the day she’s going to show the other motorists who’s boss.
14. Hear the train approaching as I am putting my money in to get a train card but the machine keeps spitting out my dollar and the train is getting closer and I am desperately trying to flatten out the dollar against the machine but goddamn it! It’s not working.
15. That little speck of dust on my dog? It just jumped and, upon closer inspection, there are many, many more of them.
16. Realize that my keys are in my other coat pocket after I’ve already pulled the locked door shut. And so is my phone.
17. Notice that my parking meter is expired two minutes after the person writing the ticket did.
18. Have someone discreetly whisper to me that my skirt is tucked into my tights at a big event I’ve organized twenty minutes after I was last in the bathroom. (I speak from experience on this one and I’d still rather have this happen again.)
19. Remember at 10:30 p.m. that we are out of toothpaste.
20. You know how sometimes the bunch of bananas you bought looked fine on the outside but then when you pull down the peel, they’re all weird and squishy and rotten inside? Yeah, that. Plus now you have fruit flies.
All this and more, people! How about you?
Posted by Marla at 8:01 AM
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
“Just like our organs, our anger is part of us. When we are angry, we have to go back to ourselves and take good care of our anger. We cannot say, ‘Go away, anger, I don’t want you.’ When you have a stomachache, you don’t say, ‘I don’t want you stomach, go away.’ No, you take care of it. In the same way, we have to embrace and take good care of our anger.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Most of us have a problem with accepting anger. This is completely understandable: anger fuels hatred and war. It harms and destroys. Anger has brought a lot of fear to many lives, including my own. Anger kills.
We associate anger with violence, destruction and a whole host of frightening things and it’s for good reason. I will come out and admit it, though: I am, at times, angry. Very, very much so. Living in a world where billions of sensitive beings are brutalized and slaughtered, where girls in India are sold by their parents as terrified young brides, where West African children are kept as slaves in order for corporations to sell cheap candy bars at convenience stores: why on earth wouldn’t I be angry? The things that anger me are a truly renewable resource: dead zones in the oceans, demeaning billboards, the culture that drives so many teen girls to self-loathing and eating disorders. Every day, I add something new or sharply underline an item on the list that already loops around the moon and back. I’m not ashamed to admit this.
At my core, though, I am essentially a happy person. Years ago, I made promise to myself that I would be happy and I am fortunate enough to have a particular predisposition that allows me to make good on that promise. The people who know me in person know that I love to laugh and have fun. If I had a dollar, though, for each time someone who does not know me called me angry based on my responses to the things that chip away at my heart, I could buy an island off Tahiti and fill it with my own private army of people who wave their angry fists at the sky all day long. What fun would that be, though?
How do I explain this seeming incongruity between the very real anger and equally real joy that I feel? I think that it comes down to how the anger is worked through: is it allowed to fester and warp us, forcing us to bend to it, or can we consciously work it out of ourselves, and, in the process, create something that makes the world just a little bit, or even a lot, better? Channeling anger into something that is productive - in other words, something that I consider necessary, expansive, helpful and worthwhile - makes me very happy; it’s almost a process of wizardry. I swear, I see sparks sometimes. At its best, anger gives those of us who possess it access to a potentially transformative experience.
Almost all of the projects I’ve worked on that I am most proud of have germinated from that seed of anger, no matter how positive they become in the nurturing process. That seed of anger is rooted in a deep desire for creating something different, and that is how it flowers. Without the seed of anger, though, I don’t know that I would have that initial drive to create change. Anger provides the fuel that I first need to get out of the inertia that despondency and helplessness fosters. Here is an example of my process: after seeing the success of a “humane meat” festival, and seeing it become less and less friendly toward vegans, I thought, “Why on earth don’t we have a vegan festival in Chicago? There are lots of us! It’s ridiculous that we don’t have our own festival. That really ticks me off. Stupid happy meat! What could I do? What could I do? Damn it, I could help to start a vegan festival.” It was with this initial flash of discontent and anger that Chicago VeganMania, our region’s largest free festival of its kind, was born almost five years ago.
The downside of anger, I think, comes from misdirection, stagnation, or turning anger into violence against another or oneself. Stewing in anger without transforming it into conscious and productive creative action is what is destructive and where we go backwards. The time we need to feel that anger and find our pathways to transformation is essential to the process, though, and I fear that with society’s negative messaging about anger, many will deny themselves the profound metamorphosis it offers us. Sitting with and simply allowing our anger, accepting it, is how we begin to harness and transform it. Where would we be as a society without the fury of Stonewall, without the white-hot gall of the Suffragettes, without the moral outrage of the Abolitionists? They weren’t just screaming in the streets: they created newspapers, art and music. They influenced culture and helped nudge society toward progress. Yes, peace and rainbows have their place but so does discontent and we need to honor that. Maybe we would be where we are now, maybe those in power would have willingly ceded their privileges if given enough time. Should those who are oppressed and killed, though, be asked to wait while polite requests are considered? Should the dysfunctional power dynamic inherent in making such requests be reinforced?
What really transforms the world? Love. But to get to love, we need to start somewhere, and sometimes, it is in the bright, hot embers of anger where we find the spark that we need to turn despair into positive action. Don’t be afraid of it. Cultivating a joyful life is the biggest way that we can influence others but a little anger has its place in getting us there.
Posted by Marla at 8:46 AM
Friday, March 1, 2013
Okay, please first read this if you are not familiar with it. Then you’ll know everything you need to know about my source of motivation.
Please understand that I am not trying to claim here that meat-eaters are murderers. (I don’t believe that simply because murder has to have intentionality behind it and most people who eat meat don’t do it intending to inflict violence: they do it out of habit and preference.) The point of this post is to explore the fundamental vapidity of moral relativism - a New Age-ready form of reasoning that tells us that, basically, everything is equally good - and the dangers of using amorphous and self-serving “cravings” as our baseline for how we conduct ourselves. Using moral relativism and cravings as our compass, what is to stop us from doing virtually anything we want just because we want to do it? Isn’t this how narcissists behave? At the worst, what about sadistic psychopaths? I changed one detail about the post I linked to above and it illustrates not only the absurdity of using moral relativism and cravings as the main justifications for our behavior, but also reveals just how willing we are to accept the enslavement of other animals. One (murder) is unthinkable and ghastly and the other (eating and using animals to our ends) is perfectly reasonable. Why?
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please enjoy...
I am no longer not murdering.
While I am no longer not murdering, I still passionately believe in one’s right to not murder. I also believe, though, that murder can be done in a way that is personally honest and empowering. Not murdering is a wonderful way to live if you can do it. Your unique spirit is the only one that can decide if murdering is right for you or not. I am here to support you however you choose to live, either with or without murdering others.
Some of you may be upset or offended by what I am about to share but I am no longer interested in living in the shadows, of hiding when I should be living my truth and showing up in the Now as who I am.
Some may be angered.
I am tired of the deception and hiding in the shadows, though. So I am coming to you now, with a guileless, open heart. After accepting my cravings, I am killing people once again but this time I have no shame about it. My body spoke to me and I took a leap of faith.
I finally listened.
After a lifetime of killing people for kicks and grins, I realized that I just didn’t feel right about it anymore. It suddenly felt wrong. Innocent people deserved to live, right? Killing them was wrong, wasn’t it? This resonated with me, my values.
I wanted to do the right thing. I didn’t want to kill anymore.
So I tried to live without murdering others and for the first few years, it felt damn good to live this way. I could do this, I told myself. I felt clean, light, re-invigorated, righteous. The few pounds I wanted to lose, too, they just melted off.
I surrounded myself with other non-murderers. I read the books they recommended. I created my own path. I was thriving and I no longer felt the urge to stalk, kill and dance in anyone’s blood. I was a success story.
I started a business where I consulted others on how they could limit murdering and eventually give it up entirely. I wrote books, was featured on Oprah.
I was a true believer. I’d found my calling. It was in not murdering.
As I said, not murdering felt good for a while. But then something shifted.
I started fantasizing about punching people in the face. I ignored it, tried to push it down. The more than I did that, though, the more the feelings rose to the top.
Suddenly, I didn’t want to just punch anyone anymore.
My friends who were still murderers would tell me stories about their exploits. I was horrified and disgusted but also, I was ashamed to admit, titillated. Would it be so bad if I just cut someone and ran away? If I just shot someone’s leg?
I did that (in the shadows, fearful that my non-violent friends would see me) and for a while it kind of subdued the cravings but then one day, it just wasn’t enough. I knew the answer. My body was telling me but I was covering my ears.
But I was a non-murderer. This felt right.
Day and night, my body told me, KILL. I couldn’t silence it.
I hid my secret cravings from myself, from my family and clients. My whole life and identity was wrapped around being a non-murderer.
“Kill, Marla. Kill,” my body whispered at first, growing louder by the second. “This is your truth. Show up.”
I immersed myself in Gandhi, in the great non-violence texts. I prayed. I meditated. I did colonics. I drank green juices. Meanwhile, the weight began piling on.
Finally, one night, I had my first kill. It was the first time in years. A wild-caught person; I’d done enough research to be assured that he’d had a good life up until that moment.
And it felt sooooooo good.
The Non-Murdering Ideal
I had finally given in to my cravings even though they conflicted with my self-image as a practitioner of non-murder. I noticed, too, that many of my clients were starting to come forward as people who still enjoyed indulging in the occasional murder. I was not alone.
They believed in peace and non-violence.
They cared about compassionate living.
They wanted to feel self-acceptance despite their cravings.
They weren’t thriving as non-murderers, though. Despite the books, despite their ideals, their bodies were crying out for something and their bodies were being denied.
They were ashamed. They felt like failures as non-murderers.
Knowing how right and good it felt for me to be murdering again, I guardedly began coaching them to listen to that ancient echo in their soul that was unsatisfied from suppressing their craving to murder.
I told them that it was okay.
I listened. I accepted them without judgement.
My clients began to relax. They no longer beat themselves up over their body’s innermost cravings. Once the veil of shame lifted, they were able to love and embrace themselves as a whole again. They were allowed to consciously murder again, no longer hiding in the shadows, and not worry about being “bad people” anymore. They felt lighter and more integrated immediately. Most lost weight.
The Hardest Part
Even though many of my clients are humanitarians who are dedicated to human rights causes, it wasn’t that hard for them to start killing again. The hardest part for them was the shame. They weren’t living the “non-violence ideal.”
I felt their pain as I related to their struggles.
And it made me guard the secret of my double-life more closely.
I told no one of my cravings for stabbing, shooting, bludgeoning and choking.
Even as I was helping my clients to embrace the perfection and wisdom of their murderous cravings, telling them that anything we want to do is beautiful simply because we want to do it, teaching them about self-acceptance and self-love even as they killed others...
...I was hiding my own truth. I was a murderer again, too. And I liked it.
Coming Out of the Closet
Slowly, I began to see my cravings and practice of murder through a new lens.
Killing wasn’t immoral or wrong.
It just was.
The sky is blue. My house has wood floors. My dog is a poodle. I am a killer.
I am perfect as is.
I came to see that there is no good or evil; our cravings are a gateway to our physical truth. Murderers, non-murderers: it is all inherently good.
Still, even knowing this, I was afraid of what my non-killing friends, followers and clients - what YOU - would think about this new me. I was afraid of losing the reputation and success I’d built for myself as a non-murderer.
Would you be angry? Would you feel betrayed?
Living in the shadows was wrecking my nerves and self-esteem. I was terrified of being “outed.” In truth, I was slowly being suffocated by the weight of my secret.
Today is that Day
Today, I throw back the curtains.
I am a murderer again. And I make no apologies.
What I Believe
I believe that you can kill someone who doesn’t want to die and do it from a place of love and kindness. I believe that this can be done while still caring for and honoring your victim.
I believe that absolutist beliefs - like that killing others is wrong - are destroying us.
I believe that you can love and care for people and still kill them.
I believe that not honoring a craving is a form of violence against the self.
I believe that not murdering is a wonderful, joyous and valid style of living for most people.
I believe that not murdering should be promoted as one path to peace and non-violence, among others.
I believe that most people should be killing less and letting more people live if they wish to live.
I believe that humans have murder as part of their history and denying this is not doing anyone any good.
I believe that when we kill others, they should be people who were raised in comfortable, humane surroundings and free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
And I believe in compassion and the innate kindness of people. By accepting and loving each other, we will find a place where those of us who choose to murder can do so without society’s finger-wagging. By doing so, we will be actively creating a world that has a new culture of shamelessness and beauty even with murdering others as a part of it.
A culture and a world that is free of shame.
I am still passionately dedicated to helping people find their true selves, whether they murder or don’t murder. There is a place for each of you, and this place is one of radical self-acceptance.
Don’t we all feel better now? I am cultivating a place where murder and non-violence can exist side-by-side without judgement. They are equally good.
As always, contact me if you’d like to sign up for my free newsletters or to learn about my seminars, webinars, personal coaching sessions, celebrity cruises or to join me on an actual Murder Mystery Tour.
With all my love, hope and gratitude,
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Something new has taken hold of the vegan movement. It’s what everybody seems to be talking about these days. Perhaps you’ve noticed it, too?
There are vegans who are taking a stand against oil.
(“Oil will kill you, it will destroy you, even the teensiest little drop. It is artery-clogging, liquid death.”)
There are vegans who are blowing the whistle on dietary fat.
(“No, not just oil: all fat. I just tossed out my flaxseeds. I wish I could take back those sunflower seeds I ate last week.”)
There are vegans who are shedding light on the dark side of carbs.
(“Um, carbs are the real problem, not fat. Potatoes, rice, fruit, it doesn’t matter: carbs are the enemy and they will make you obese.”)
There are vegans who are exposing the world to the dangers of gluten.
(“Not all carbs are the devil. It’s just gluten that will destroy your gut, the foundation of your health. The rest is fine.”)
There are vegans who are pulling the curtains back on sodium.
(“Why is no one bringing up sodium?!”)
There are vegans who are leading the charge against sugar.
(“Oh, come on. Sodium? It’s sugar that is the real problem. Just a few granules and you will become instantly toxic.”)
There are vegans who are educating the world about acidic foods.
(“What you really need to be concerned about is alkaline versus acidic. That’s it. You cannot die if your blood is more alkaline. It’s a known fact. Acidic environments equal death.”)
There are vegans who are teaching the masses about the hazards of cooked foods.
(“Oh, please! Why are we all dancing around the truth? It’s all about enzymes: heating food over 104 degrees destroys the enzymes and then it is nutritionally void. End of story.”)
It used to be that vegans concerned ourselves with social justice and digging at the roots of unjust privileges. We worked at changing how society conceptualizes other animals, at getting people to finally see the unnecessary, systemic violence that is so pervasive and ingrained, it’s nearly invisible. We thought that we had a lot of work to do but it turns out that we’d been badly neglecting a whole sphere that deserved our attention: nutritional one-upmanship. No longer, though. Now it seems that so many vegans are consumed with policing each other and the world at large over carbs versus fat intake, the satanic properties of salt versus the sinister underbelly of sweeteners, that the real compelling message of compassionate living is lost in the swirling miasma of paranoia and disordered thinking.
I believe that this creeping demonization of our food landscape - the environment of shaming and judgement, posturing and rancor over nutrition - deeply undermines and restricts our efforts at building a culture of compassionate, dynamic veganism.
Unless there is something radically and uncommonly wrong with one’s body, that person has serious allergies or addictions, no, a little oil, a little sugar or some carbs won’t likely kill anyone. It just won’t. This is absolutist and fear-based thinking that is not rooted in science or fact. Scaremongering does sell a lot of books, though. It is a hard sell for celebrity doctors and wellness gurus to build a base without demonizing something(s) - fat, carbs, cooked food - and they need a solid hook to be heard above the clatter of all the other competing celebrity doctors and wellness experts seeking their piece of the (low glycemic index, gluten-free, raw) pie. They realize, too, that the buying public needs a plan to rally around, one that’s easy to understand, to stay motivated.
I have seen vegans become downright vicious as they slam others in defense of the specific dietary and health beliefs they hold to be true; I have seen vegans publicly attack each other in a cruelly personal, bullying manner, the likes of which I had not seen since middle school, over nutritional minutiae and body size as if their adversary were an animal abuser instead of, um, someone who occasionally eats rice. I have no doubt that our country eats too much protein, too much fat, too many processed foods, and that this is not health-promoting for anyone. I also have no doubt that the health experts have helped many who were at death’s door by exposing them to a healthier way to live. I am not disputing that and I have so much gratitude to those who have turned people away from meat and animal products to give them a new lease on life. I remain skeptical, though, that a little “this or that” is deadly or even injurious for most people. Followers make these assertions as though they were facts but passionate beliefs about something do not make it a fact. Instead, it becomes a form of zealotry and, because we are still a small minority of the population, this then becomes associated with veganism to the public at large, which already considers how we live to be extreme and requiring the discipline of a mountain-top dwelling monk as it is.
The repercussions here are pernicious: the conflation of veganism - which has its core foundation rooted in convictions about nonviolence, equality and justice - with random diet plans that happen to be promoted by various vegan doctors or weight loss gurus. Veganism has nothing to do with being gluten-free, fat-free or raw and we need to be mindful about not intertwining it with whatever diet we consider to be optimal. Years ago, when raw foods was becoming The Big Thing, I heard a lot of confusion from the public due to this intertwining: Wait, so vegans don’t eat anything cooked? Is that right? I am starting to hear the same general confusion about vegans being gluten-free. Now are we to also believe that people are somehow “less vegan” if they are not oil-free? What does sautéing broccoli in a little olive oil have to do with the exploitation of animals? What does anyone’s Body Mass Index have to do with the institutionalized cruelty we inflict on animals? That’s right: absolutely nothing.
We should be doing everything we can to remove the barriers to compassionate living, not putting up more arbitrary and personal hurdles that have nothing to do with it. There are already huge cultural and personal leaps that many people find overwhelming and intimidating: why would we make it harder by making veganism even that much less attainable? If people want this to be a personal purity club that revolves around restriction, dietary absolutism and body shaming, then that is what it is, but it is not helping the animals. It’s disordered thinking (no doubt fostered by our sick society) that has gotten wrapped around veganism and I have seen the shame, anxiety, confusion and isolation it engenders. For veganism to thrive and grow, it needs to be expansive and accessible, not the opposite. As time goes on, I’m more and more certain that being mindful and smart with our messaging has got to be our priority as effective advocates. When we use the same kind of righteous indignation for potatoes or olive oil that we do for violence against animals and the planet, something has gone haywire with our priorities. When we abandon the ethical argument - the one that we basically own - because we'd rather publicly berate each other over perceived nutritional shortcomings, we have taken an axe to our own foundation.
Posted by Marla at 8:12 AM