Thoughtful Thursdays, Guest Post by Violet’s Vegan Comics, and Empathy-Building

How do we build empathy?

This is the fundamental pillar of Project Do Better.  I asked Violet for her thoughts on this topic, and about her children’s books: Violet’s Vegan Comics.  She was kind enough to share these thoughts:

Project Do Better

Shira Dest is an ambitious woman and she has an ambitious plan.  Some might say an over-ambitious plan.  Some might call it impossible.  But why should it be impossible?  Because most people are uncaring?  No.  Most people care.  Most people would prevent the suffering of a child if they could.  So what’s the problem?  Why aren’t all children safe?  The problem is a society and education system that conditions children to turn a blind eye to the suffering of other animals.

The moral code by which “good” people raise their children is inconsistent.  Its contradictions require that children are taught to apply the rules selectively.  The rule “thou shalt not kill”, for example, seems simple enough.  Killing is wrong.  Except in self-defence, the defence of others, or to end someone’s suffering.  Very few people would argue with that.  And yet most have no qualms about paying for animals to be killed.  Even people who consider themselves animal-lovers have no problem eating the flesh and excretions of some animals.  So called “farm animals”.  Not pets.  Not wild animals.  Not exotic endangered animals.  But “farm animals” – that’s what they’re there for.  That’s why they were born.  That’s their purpose.  They’re not like humans.  They’re not like dogs.  And they are killed humanely.  These are the lies planted in our minds as children.  Our parents unwittingly plant them there because they believe the lies are true.  They were indoctrinated as children too.

double standard
double standard

This indoctrination is generations, even centuries, old, so that even intelligent, otherwise compassionate people remain hypnotised by its power.  Even the chronic illnesses caused by consumption of animal products, and the infectious diseases which emerge from their production, don’t provoke doubt.

It begins when parents lie to their pre-school children about what meat is, in order to get them to eat it.  Consequently, by the time the child learns the truth, they are so used to it, it’s so ‘normal’, that their resistance, their natural aversion to eating an animal, has been replaced by unquestioning compliance.  And from then on, every time the child reads a book or watches a movie in which meat-eating, milk-drinking, omelet-making, leather-jacket wearing, and fishing are portrayed as normal and benign, that ‘normal’ becomes more and more ingrained.

But the enslavement and brutal deaths of sentient beings is not benign and should never be viewed as normal.  These things should be viewed with horror and if the education system did its job honestly, they would be.

In January 2016, Michael Lebwhol wrote a piece for The Yale Global Health Review.  The following are excerpts from it:

“Down in the blood pit they say that the smell of blood makes you aggressive. And it does. You get an attitude that if that hog kicks at me, I’m going to get even. You’re already going to kill the hog, but that’s not enough. It has to suffer. When you get a live one you think, Oh good, I’m going to beat this sucker.”– [the words of a slaughterhouse worker.]

“Many industrial jobs come with hazards that contribute to worker stress.  However, slaughterhouse work is unique among major industries due to its innate violence.  Though there have been few truly scientific attempts to quantify how this violence affects slaughterhouse workers’ mental health and behavior, one of the most prominent studies investigated the impact of having a slaughterhouse in a community on crime rates within that community, using this as a metric for psychological health. The study used the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report date in combination with the US Census to look at how crime rates changed as new industries came to town. They took data for over five hundred counties between the years 1994 and 2002, and then compared slaughterhouses’ effect on crime to that of other industries. Though the industries they used for comparison were nearly identical in other predictors of changes in crime (namely worker demographics, potential to create social disorganization, and effect on unemployment in the surrounding areas), slaughterhouses outstripped all others in the effect they had on crime.  They led not only to a larger increase in overall crime, but, disturbingly, disproportionate increases in violent crime and sexual crime.”

A Call to Action: Psychological Harm in Slaughterhouse Workers – Yale Global Health Review

Conditioning children to consume the products of violence will create conflict in their minds.  They are being told to be good, not to fight, not to be cruel, but at the same time they get the message that you have to be cruel sometimes.  If it’s necessary.  When is it necessary?  To get meat, animals have to be killed.  What if I don’t eat meat?  Then cruelty wouldn’t be necessary would it?  But you DO have to eat meat!  Why?  Because you need the protein and the iron that’s in meat.  But I could get protein and iron from fruit and vegetables.  If I ate plenty of fruit and vegetables instead of meat, cruelty wouldn’t be necessary would it?  Would it?  This is a simple, logical train of thought which must go through most children’s minds if they think to question their parents’ instructions.  If, having followed that train, they choose to disregard its only possible conclusion, they will be forced to do what their parents have done – lock their natural aversion to cruelty in a box in their mind that they must make great efforts never to open.  And that is not a healthy state of mind to be in.  We must not inhibit children’s natural empathy.  We must nurture it.

Years ago I was on a crowded train, standing by the door, looking out the window.  A little boy, about five years old, took a few steps away from his parents to stand with me because he wanted to look out of the window too.  As the train rushed through the countryside we passed many fields and every time there were animals to be seen, the little boy told me he loved them.

“I love horses,” he said with a grin, “I love pigs.”

I smiled and told him I loved them too.

“I love cows,” he went on, “I love lambs.”  He looked up at me with such joy, happy that I felt the same way.  In his excitement he stepped back over to his parents and shared it with them, “I love lambs!” he told them.  They laughed.

“Yes you do don’t you,” grinned his dad, “you love the lamb on your plate.”

The boy looked crestfallen.  “I don’t want them to be killed,” he said quietly, “it’s unkind.”

Unkind.  That five year old boy knew something his parents did not.  He knew something most “good people” do not.  That it’s unkind to kill animals.  Unkind to kill someone who doesn’t want to die.  It’s so simple.  So obvious.  But the indoctrination holds fast in most cases.  Nurses, care workers, religious leaders, human rights campaigners, those who devote their lives to the needs of others, still eat animal products because it doesn’t occur to them how unkind it is.

This is why we make storybooks and comics which don’t normalise animal abuse.  We have created a new normal.  Our stories are not necessarily about veganism, but their protagonists – the good guys – are all vegan.  Our stories are funny, exciting, enlightening, all sorts of things.  We have picture books and rhyming stories for little ones, fairy tales and funny juvenile fiction for confident readers, and comics and graphic novels full of adventure for all ages.  We leave them in charity shops and libraries, where children can find them at pocket money prices, hoping that if a child like the boy on the train stumbles across them, they will give him or her confidence; they will tell him that he was right all along; and that she is not alone – there are many who feel as she does and, even if he hasn’t met any of them yet, they are out there.

boy-looking-out-window-png-close-up-shot-of-a-little-curious-boy-looking-out-of-the-window-in-train-it-s-raining-outside-child-reflecting-in-the-glass-stock-video-footage-1920Inspiring veganism in children, who are the most open and receptive to its truths, is the only way to a compassionate, peaceful and empathetic world:  a world in which there are no captive animals or abused children, a world in which we can all live in harmony.

Because a world full of non-vegan humans, is not safe for any of us.


     Thank you so much, Violet, for these important thoughts on empathy in our world.

Next Thursday will  we will begin our Thoughtless Thursdays reviews…

Action Prompts:

1.) Share your thoughts on how we can build empathy in our society today

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.

*****************

Click here to read, if you like:

Science Fiction/Fantasy Shows,  Lupin, or Money Heist

Holistic High School Lessons,

Thoughtful Readers, if you are on Twitter, please consider following   #Project Do Better  on Twitter.

Shira

Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

19 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursdays, Guest Post by Violet’s Vegan Comics, and Empathy-Building

  1. Many people wouldn’t eat meat, if they had to kill the animals themselves.
    And then the hypocritical meat eaters, who make the rules which animals are allowed to be eaten and which not; no dogs, no horses, but pigs yes, although they are much more intelligent than dogs and horses. And the animals are neither held, transported or killed in humane and respectful ways.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Reblogged this on Violet's Vegan Comics and commented:
    Here is a guest post I wrote in support of Shira Dest’s Project Do Better. My mental capacity is not equal to Shira’s so I find it a lot to take in and have to absorb it slowly. What I do know is this: whatever our abilities we all have things we can contribute to Shira’s plan. Please do whatever you do well to make the world a safe place for children and animals.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Violet!!
      (and your loving capacity far outweighs mine, and as Dr. King told us, Love is the most important thing in this world…)

      Thank you for teaching me to love more, Violet!

      In Service,
      Shira

      Liked by 4 people

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