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Working With Judgment and Tolerance

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I just posted a comment on another blog as it touched on a topic I’ve been having to confront increasingly over the past few months/years. I run into a lot more welfarist vegans than I do abolitionist vegans and whenever we get together, this topic almost always comes up: Tolerance vs Judgment.

It always leads me to ask, why would a vegan turn a blind eye to animal suffering by condoning animal use (eat less meat and/or eat humane/cage free) so that people will get along?

Instead of reconstructing my thoughts on the topic, I decided to just re-post my comment. Yes, I am quoting myself. Don’t judge 😛

“As an abolitionist vegan who practices meditation and lots of introspection, I have pondered these two concepts (judgment & tolerance) many times. What I am learning is that not judging others isn’t for the benefit of the other person, it’s for my benefit. When I am in deep judgment (which I often am) it keeps me from addressing the situation (omni or vegetarian) with a clear mind. If I can set my judgment of the person and their acceptance of animal use and abuse aside, then I am better able to be clear about my stance on veganism from an abolitionist perspective.

You can never control how others will react to what you are saying, but you might have some skills that may diffuse a volatile response (even then, there is no guarantee it will work). More importantly, you do have more control over how you (re)act. When I am talking to someone about veganism, I don’t have a goal of “not making people mad” though. My goal is to be consistent and non-reactive in my message that animals are sentient and it is a violation for people to use them for their benefit. I have kept my mouth shut several times when I could feel a reactive comment coming on, but again, I keep it to myself not out of consideration for the other person, but for my own integrity.

I’ve also learned that we all have a ceiling in our comfort zone and when we are pushed past that ceiling we get real uncomfortable and we fight back like hell. This is normal. But if you sit with the discomfort, acknowledge it, let it speak and reassure it that things will be okay and you won’t die (cause really, that’s how it feels), then you eventually move past the discomfort into change and a new comfort zone. This is why I really dislike it when vegans condone humane animal use or reduced animal use. Those actions allow you to stay in your comfort zone and keep you from growing into change.

When we talk to the public about animal use/abuse, we should also be asking questions like “what are you afraid will happen if you went vegan?” and “Does it make sense that a person who deeply believes that abusing animals is wrong also supports an industry whose sole existence is based on abusing animals?”

A tactic that works for one person won’t work for another and some people will “get it” right away while others will dismiss it all together. All we can do is stay consistent with our values and keep giving the information knowing all the while we will push some buttons, not because we are “radical” or “preachy”, but because it’s human nature.”

My bottom line is this; tolerating an opposing view to veganism does not mean or equal condoning their actions or behavior, it’s merely accepting (not integrating) that they are reacting this way. As one of my meditation teachers simply pointed out, “once you can accept it, then you can change it”.

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About Ahimsa

Vegan Freak, Dharma Punk, Curious Cat

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