Are we still having the same conversation?

I left for work the other morning and began a very telling conversation.  Our body corporate hires someone to look after basic maintenance around the apartments.  His name is Alan and he's an elderly Sri Lankan gent.  We always talk about gardening, as we have a vegie planter in the front yard.  But this day the conversation steered somewhere new.  Into politics.  I held my breath, as Alan complained about the government and I smiled, relieved.  He said as he's gotten older he's gotten more radical in his thinking.  I beamed at Alan.  What a legend.

It seems sometimes that it's a sin to be passionate, particularly about the state of the world.  Apathy runs deep and recently after Russell Brand's youtube hit, despondency runs deeper.  Many people feel like it's a choice between one bunch of lying spin doctors or another.  Where is the choice?  Perhaps this is why small community groups and online petition sites are taking matters into the publics hands.

On saturday night I saw The Beast at the MTC.  It's a biting satire poking jibes at the new middle class, having 'tree changes', being organic, sustainable and seeking to live an 'authentic' life.  Whatever the fuck that is.  These people, rather than yearning to reduce their footprint seem to live this lifestyle only to be 'on trend' with Epicure and for bragging rites and moral superiority. During the play they slaughter a calf (albeit a spookily real puppet) and the blood splattering horror of killing something is shown to all who watch.  This part left me speechless.  The characters moral compass is questioned constantly, highlighted when one wife is outraged more by her husband hiding the fact he's still smoking, rather than the fact he was shipwrecked and killed and ate another human.  The finger pointing is complete.  Where are our priorities?

It was also the week of the Melbourne Cup.  For all the talk of fashions on the field, and a great sunny public holiday the reality of the day was lost on many.  A horse was killed during the race but many news outlets didn't even mention what had happened.  For the sake of betting, and spoiling everyone's public holiday it was kept out of the footage.  However, good old social media fought back with outrage, and this video showing horses being shot in the head spread fast.  The reality of 'wastage' in the racing industry.

Sunday was World Vegan Day and there's a big event in Melbourne.  I've been vegetarian since I was 14.  So that means for 29 years I've not eaten meat of any kind.  I remember when I turned vego there was nothing in supermarkets for us.  Tofu wasn't on my radar yet, but Mum helped me make lentil burgers which I lived off and we bought new cook books to learn more.  At heart being vego is the easiest thing in the word for me.  It's who I am.  I'm not vegan, but I admire their dedication to living a kinder life and I hope to expand my culinary horizons to include more of this type of food.  As I walked around the event there were fair trade shoes and clothes, cruelty free make up, and lots of food products. Including the most amazing and delicious cupcakes from My Nice Guy Bakeshop (go the Peanut butter cup if you can).

But one area had information stalls and lots of petitions to sign.  Ban live exports, ban jumps racing, ban vivisection, ban Beagles being used in labs, save the orangutans, stop the sale of dog meat, stop whaling... on it went.  Stall after stall.  I stood there, saddened.  I stood looking at all the passionate and compassionate people trying to make a difference.  I love them for it.  But how are we still having these conversations?  I wrote a paper in high school about the use of animals in experiments.  It seemed like it would only be a matter of years before we would no longer need to torture, poison or harm animals for our benefit.  But here I am, 26 years later watching people still striving to get it banned.

It reminds me a little of a Doctor Who episode about a star whale.  As the world was ending a star whale came and was trapped by humans who built their city on it's back.  It flies through space having it's brain electric shocked to keep going.  The humans are convinced that if they stop shocking it the world will end, as the shocks keeps the star whale under control.  If they bother to look beneath the surface they are faced with a choice, remember and end the world or forget and keep torturing the whale. But Amy realises this isn't true.  She stops the shocks and the star whale continues to fly at greater speed helping it's human cargo.

I don't know why we choose to keep hitting the forget button.  We cry about disinterest and despondency, but don't want to face the hard truth.  We could live kinder lives and realise the true impact of what we eat and wear.  But many people turn away and worry about less important things.  I hope I'm like Alan.  I hope I get more radical as I get older.  I hope I'm like the passionate and compassionate people I saw on sunday.  But most of all, I hope one day I won't have to any more.  That we will change.  If we bother to look.


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