"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

compassion and empathy and irrational behaviors

On 28th January I wrote of our Irrational Behaviors, following the theme of the essay by Ervin Laszlo on “The World’s Health Problem: an Integral Diagnosis” in A New Renaissance – Transforming Science, Spirit and Society. Our Irrational Behavior Number One is that "Millions are suffering from overeating and obesity and a thousand million go hungry."Where, I asked, was our compassion for our fellow humankind? Where is our empathy? Then on 30 January I moved on to Laszlo's Irrational Behavior number 2, triggered by Davos: why do we remain preoccupied with making money and holding on to privileges when our wellbeing and possibly our survival hangs in the balance? Again, where is our compassion? Where is our empathy?

Here is another of Laszlo's irrational behaviors - Number 3 - and this is at rock bottom in the compassionate stakes:

"Vast herds of livestock, consisting in part of intelligent and sensitive animals, are brought into the world for the sole purpose of slaughtering them, a procedure that, apart from its questionable ethical and health implications, is wasting an enormous amount of resources (it takes 5,124 gallons of water and 16 pounds of grain and soy to produce one pound of beef, and not much less to produce a pound of pork)."
Now I know the precise figures are open to debate, but the principle is unaltered. Vegetarians tread more lightly in this world.
Add to this the awful cruelty still involved in so much of our animal husbandry, fish farming and fishing from boats, and I am incredibly surprised that there are not many more vegetarians.

Here is some information taken from the Compassion in World Farming site. "...established in 1967 by British dairy farmer Peter Roberts. Peter and his wife Anna had become increasingly concerned with the animal welfare issues connected to the new systems of intensive farming that began to take hold in the 1960s.

Unfortunately, at the time, Peter couldn't convince any of the major animal welfare societies to campaign against factory farming, so he decided to do it himself and Compassion in World Farming was born.

Originally run from the Roberts' family house, Compassion in World Farming has grown into an organisation with offices in Ireland, France and Holland and representatives in seven more countries, including South Africa and Oceania."

And there is an equivalent in the United States,The Humane Society, which has on its website videos of animal cruelty in factory farming that I found too shocking to watch. It is shameful if we have built a society with so little compassion that these videos do not persuade people to change their eating habits and campaign for better conditions for all farm animals.

So give some vegetarian dishes a try. You may be pleasantly surprised just how easy it is to avoid meat or fish in a few meals each week. And restaurants, be more imaginative in your dishes for vegetarians. There is a lot more to our diet than pastas and risottos. I don't like either!

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