Who me? Yes you. Everyone needs to take a look at why they do things. Why do we work where we work? Why do we live were we live? Why do we love who we love? Why do we eat what we eat? Is there sincerity there, or just habit and convenience? Are we going through the motions? Are we trying to please others? Let’s ask ourselves.
Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to give thanks for all that we have — but also, to take stock in how we are living our lives. Yes, we are giving thanks for family, friends and the abundance that we take freely from this planet — but are we acting responsibly? Are we really thankful for the lives and the resources that we use? Or are we simply abusing them and then giving thanks for them? And if so, is this abusive way of living something that we are simply imitating, because it was ingrained in us as children? What is the real reason we do what we do?
We can take a closer look at many things: how we conduct ourselves in relationships (family, romantic or friendships); how we clothe or shelter ourselves; where we choose to live; where we choose to work; how we chose to spend our time; but let’s just look at one thing — what we eat at Thanksgiving (or at any other holiday or ritual celebration) and why. Just using one facet of our lives will give us greater insight regarding the other facets.
Last year 46 million turkeys were killed — not for the year — just for Thanksgiving. The number for animals eaten in general last year in the U.S.A. was well over 10.25 billion. Animals are living, breathing, thinking, loving beings — just like a dog or cat. I think people would be very uncomfortable if every Thanksgiving holiday 46 million cats had to die, just so that people could celebrate. There are other ways to celebrate, give thanks, and share a meal together.
Thanksgiving isn’t the only ritual that focuses on sacrificing an animal. There are many religions that practice it regularly. All I am saying is, is it necessary? In this day and age, would you design your events for ‘giving thanks’ or for celebrating life, by ending a life? Do you fully endorse taking a life in this way, or are you just fitting into a mold? In either case, could there be another way?
I know many people are thinking: “What about fast food?! And the way people eat everyday, this is much more indulging than an annual celebration. People eat animals all the time, even though they don’t need to.” Yes, you are right. I agree. That’s why I said at the beginning of this post, let’s look at how we do things, in general. Since it’s November, an the end of the year is usually a time of celebration & holidays, I decided to use that as an example for looking at our choices a little more closely. Asking ourselves why we do what we do, and if we are simply fitting into traditions that we really aren’t in full agreement with. For example: would we personally go out and bring a goat, turkey, pig, cow or chicken home to kill? If not, why do we go to the store and buy a dead one, and support a practice that we wouldn’t necessarily do or choose for ourselves?
If we see that we may be on autopilot regarding our food choices, rituals and celebration — we might want to look at other aspects of our lives next. I know living in New York and having the lifestyle I live isn’t in full alignment with my heart in many regards. There are many practices that are accepted here that are very abusive towards the planet, and are completely unsustainable. I think the first step is to see it. To see what one is taking part in. The second step is, to take responsibility for it; to say, “Yes, I am in total agreement with this and I will continue to do this. I am choosing powerfully!” or “I am not in total agreement with this, and I need to modify or reconsider my current choices and participation. I will find a better way.” And the third step is, to continue to work towards change, both internally & externally, so that one’s life is in complete alignment with one’s heart.
I’m not writing this blog post to say, “Hey you! You got some work to do! Look at what you are doing!” I’m writing this blog post to say, me, you, we all have some work to do. Look at what we are doing as a people. Look at what we are doing to the planet, and to the living beings we share this planet with. Can we be more aware of our actions? Can we live in a kinder, more sustainable way? It’s entirely up to us. Every choice we make matters. Let’s live honestly & authentically. Let’s choose powerfully!
[UPDATE 11/18/2012: View this link & you’ll have a better idea of what I am trying to get everyone to see.]
[All photos courtesy of Exercise Compassion.]