- ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿ - Krishna Shastry
- ಪ್ರಾಣಿ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳು, ಶುದ್ಧ ಸಸ್ಯಾಹಾರ, ಪರಿಸರ, ಆರೋಗ್ಯ ಇವೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನೂ ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ವೀಗನಿಸಂ ಎಂಬ ತತ್ವದಲ್ಲಿ ನಂಬಿಕೆ ಇಟ್ಟಿರುವ ಒಬ್ಬ ಸರಳ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ ನಾನು.
ನನ್ನ ಇತರ ಆಸಕ್ತಿಗಳೆಂದರೆ ನೀತಿಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ, ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕ ನೀತಿಸಂಹಿತೆಗಳು, ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕ ಆರೋಗ್ಯ, ಆವಿಷ್ಕಾರಗಳು, ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ, ಕನ್ನಡ ಭಾಷೆ, ಭಾಷಾನೀತಿಗಳು ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ.
I am a simple Kannadiga following veganism, that cares about animal rights, pure vegetarianism, environment and health.
My other interest include ethics, public healthcare, public policies, innovation, science & technology, Kannada language and linguistic policies.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Let me begin with a disclaimer that the intent of this article is to ignite introspections and thought processes towards further betterment, and is certainly not an attempt to undermine anyone's sincere efforts in the same direction.
The latest trending thing is Shashi Tharoor’s speech onBritain Does Owe Reparations While many people praise his speech, some also feel that his last few words (the 1 pound per year part) took away the seriousness of the matter. Nevertheless, Tharoor reminded everyone that past crimes cannot be easily forgotten and it is important to acknowledge, own up the responsibility.
Now, this speech might not be directly related to veganism, however I have always been thinking about this aspect in vegan context as well. How many of us vegans consciously try to pay for our crimes committed by us when we were still not vegans, and what about the crimes that we are continuing to commit even today for our conveniences and comforts, although in much smaller scale when compared to non-vegans around us?
To me, veganism is a journey with no clear starting point or end point. Conforming to the technical definition of veganism is just one step among many in this awakening path. Anyone who realizes that veganism is the right thing to do and starts on this path is indeed miles ahead than most others around, however this level of consciousness also makes one scrutinize own actions in the past as well as present. And when we do that, certain things from our past and present do make us uncomfortable. The next question is, how we deal with that.
Personally, few incidents from my past haunt me even today. Once when I was a kid, we had abandoned a cat because she had some skin disease and she was annoying us by sleeping on our sofa and bed. We tried a lot to keep her at some distance, but she was trying to come too close, and instead of extending unconditional help and love, we took her to a far off place and abandoned her in a different neighbourhood. Another incident makes me even more ashamed. I guess I was 18 or 19, I had just started driving. I had accidentally hit a cow and even though I felt sorry, I succumbed to the wishful thinking when I saw her getting up and walking away. Without getting down and seeing her real condition, whether she needed any treatment etc. I chose to think that she was fine and worried more about the damage to the car, possible scolding/embarrassment, conflicts with other people around who sometimes try to take advantage of such situation (by extorting money, claiming ownership of the cow) etc. These two examples stand out clearly, but I am sure there are other smaller crimes that I have committed in the past, knowingly or unknowingly.
What about “crime through consumption”? Personally, I never ate meat. So, I don’t know how guilty one might feel if he/she had eaten a dead animal/bird in the past, or if he/she had killed with own hands for that purpose. But I do feel sorry that I enjoyed dairy products until I was 20 years old and also eggs during some of my school years. During my visits to relatives’ place who owned dairy farms, I clearly remember feeling sorry looking at animals that were tied in the barn. But I feel guilty of not “feeling enough” at that time. While those poor things were enslaved, violated and denied their rights, I was happily enjoying the dairy products. Does it not call for any reparation? I feel it does.
And even today I am guilty of leading a life that has significantly high ecological and cruelty footprint compared to what it could really be, if I make tougher choices. Being a vegan definitely reduces my footprint than most others around, but I feel there is still a long way to go. Whether it is shining fruits & vegetables that are easily available in the market, wide paved roads or footpath, concrete buildings, street lights, continuous supply of electricity and water, timely transport systems, waste management systems - people living in urban areas definitely enjoy more comforts and conveniences of modern world when compared to people in rural areas, and most of these amenities are not based on fundamental principles of sustainable and cruelty free lifestyle. Still, it is not easy to give up on many of these, and perhaps there will be many which I might never give up in this lifetime, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel guilty about them. So, what is the best way to own up responsibility in this context?
In India, elders say genuine “Prayashchita” will wash away the sins, and they also say that “Pashchathapa” or “genuinely repenting” is the best Prayashchita. Perhaps this reflected in Tharoor’s last words as well when he said genuine sorry is enough and that is all what we really seek from Britain. However, I don’t necessarily agree with that. To me, if someone is genuinely sorry, then they will also work towards reparation, within their limitations. If someone is in a comfortable position to undo at least some part of the damage done, and if they instead just walk away saying sorry, then that sorry is not genuine, it is as simple as that.
I talked about 2 things:
1. Past crimes: If a person is now awake and has embraced veganism, then it clearly means that most of the past crimes are not going to be repeated. But it also means acknowledgement of those past crimes. Since they are not recurring, quantifying and setting targets for reparation is relatively easier in this case. I personally feel that every vegan should own up to the extent of crimes that they have committed in the past. For e.g. a frequent meat eater definitely has lot more to do as part of reparation when compared to an occasional meat eater. There is no definite framework to calculate any of this and there is definitely no law that will force you to do all this, but I would think a conscious vegan who genuinely repents on past crimes committed by him/her, will definitely realize one day or the other that, just conforming to the technical definition of veganism is just one of the many steps in the right direction. No longer committing the crimes is indeed good and such determination is commendable, but reparation is also equally important.
What could be done as part of reparation is the next question. I feel the best reparation is to spread veganism, because you might have awaken but many others haven’t, and those crimes are still happening, all around. So, we need to spend our time, effort, money on spreading veganism. That’s the best reparation for our past crimes.
2. Ongoing crimes: As I mentioned above, in case of vegans, the extent is much less, but it is still there. While others might not recognize their ongoing crimes of higher degrees, vegans generally get more and more conscious about their smallest of crimes as well. This is tricky to deal with. At one hand, we could say that, ‘trying our best and committing lesser crimes than what others do’ itself is a great achievement. On the other hand, we could still quantify our crimes in our own way and pay for those crimes, again by spending time, effort and money to spread veganism. A small caution: such ongoing reparation should not be considered as “buying sins” and reduce our urge to further reduce our ongoing crimes, even if it already small.
Lastly, I once again reiterate that the intent of this article is not to criticize vegans who are genuinely trying their best and evolving in the right path and spreading veganism to whatever extent possible by them. The intent is to put seeds of introspection so that we question ourselves – Am I doing enough? Can I do more? If our freedom fighters had not driven themselves forward with such constant introspection, India would still be under someone else’s rule. Similarly, vegans also need to constantly push themselves and explore uncomfortable territories, in order to take forward the freedom fight movement for animals.