Thursday, December 17, 2009

Want peace on earth? Go vegan.

I hate the holidays. There, I said it. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I was born two days before Christmas and that I always got ripped off by friends and family when it came to gift-giving. “Hey Dan, here is your birthday/Christmas present,” or “Sorry Dan, with Christmas so close, all I could get you was this crummy…” But I digress.

The reason I don’t like this time of year is because it really hits home just how different I am from all my friends, coworkers, and even family members. When you tell people you don’t celebrate Christmas, they often look at you as if you have three heads or something.

“Are you Jewish? Jehovah’s Witness? Seventh Day Adventist? Well then what the hell’s wrong with you? What have you got against peace on earth, goodwill to mankind and all that other crap? You’re not a Commie, are you?”

No, I’m not Jewish, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Seventh Day Adventist or a Communist. I’m agnostic (meaning I don’t know and I don’t care), but more importantly I’m vegan. To be vegan is to choose peace over oppression, compassion over cruelty and life over death (ironically, the same things that Christians claim to espouse).

That’s why I don’t celebrate Christmas. I think it’s a sham. And I don’t think most people who celebrate it really believe in it either, or at least what it’s supposed to be about. If they did, there’d be a lot less violence in the world. And if they do, then I suspect it’s only a seasonal thing, like the flu, and as soon as the Christmas tree is thrown to the curb, so too are those warm and fuzzy feelings; the ones we should have every day of the year.

To quote Abigail Adams, “We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.” Sure, we like to think of ourselves as kind, compassionate and peace-loving, but our actions don’t really reflect that, do they? We don’t really practice what we preach.

The only thing we do practice religiously is the law of instant gratification; the fine art of pleasing ourselves. And the only thing that seems to matter is what’s on sale. Instead of volunteering at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, people are trampling each other (in some cases to death) at retail outlets to save a few bucks on their favourite video game or dolly. The Big Box stores are our new gods and we spend more time inside them than we do in our churches.

We continue to wage war on our brothers and sisters to control and possess their natural resources. We support the exploitation of men, women and children for cheap labour so we can have our stuff. We pollute the land, sea and air knowing full well that we’re doing it and how harmful it is to our health. And we enslave, kill and eat other animals because God apparently told us to and because we’re at the top of the food chain, we’re special and we deserve it.

Then on December 25th we get together with loved ones to exchange presents, feast on the remains of tortured animals (with all the trimmings) and bask in our own arrogance and false sense of benevolence, never questioning our beliefs and traditions or the consequences of how we live and how our lifestyles affects others. And so I'll continue to boycott Christmas until we begin to live up to our high-sounding words.

But there is a light at the end of this dark Xmas tunnel: the year is almost at an end. That means a new year is just around the corner and with a new year comes the opportunity to start over; a chance to be the best YOU that you can be and improve the lives of others.

If you care about the suffering of others, the exploitation of the weak and the growing violence both here and around the world, then do something about it. Make it your New Year’s resolution to go vegan. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s guaranteed to reduce a lot of unnecessary suffering in the world.

Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me.

Let there be peace on earth

The peace that was meant to be.

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