A year and a half ago, I wrote this article about our perceived wants and needs and how they tie in with veganism and the AR movement. While I have evolved in my views since becoming vegan and more recently, an AR activist, these words still ring very true for me. For this reason, I am re posting for your perusal. Comments and thoughts are always greatly appreciated.
Originally Posted on Oct 20, 2014
I am not sure, after a very busy weekend, if I am busier now than when our kids were little, but sometimes it seems like it. I washed valences and blinds to get ready for the fellow who is going to clean our windows on this coming Wednesday. I continued to put things away post renovation. I cleaned out one china cabinet and washed all the dishes in it, did some laundry and caught up on all my paperwork and bill paying. My husband was busy putting the garden to bed, emptying flower pots of their scruffy looking charges and cutting back perennials for the long sleep to come. He ran a bunch of errands and then ran for his health. Together we shopped for a new car (only because ours are dying of old age and OMG are cars ever expensive), joined a couple for dinner out at a Japanese restaurant on Saturday night and made a dynamite veggie and bean pasta sauce which we served over spaghetti squash for last nite’s supper. To say, that by the time we sat down to eat and watch a bit of TV, we were both pooped out is an understatement. It is never a good sign when one is too tired to walk up the stairs to go to bed. Plus, we are not getting any younger, as they say.
So, all that busy work got me thinking. How much does our actual survival in this world depend on getting all of this done? You know, the kind of survival where one breathes in and out, has enough to eat, enough clean water to drink and shelter from the storms of nature. I guess I would have to say, none of it, apart from the food we made. We are lucky enough to live in a middle class type neighborhood in a suburb near Montreal, QC, Canada. There is no question that we have worked hard to be here and to continue to live here now that our children are grown.
However, I am well aware that much of our good fortune comes from the happenstance of birth. We were born to parents who worked hard and were able to get ahead. There is no question that we benefited from all their hard work. We were offered educations, support and an example of how to be successful in the modern world in which we live.
This busy work, the stuff we absolutely have to get done to keep the sky from falling, seems to me to be a somewhat frivolous occupation of privilege. We get all mixed up about what is a want and what is a need. I don’t pretend to know much of how other people live or what their struggles are, but I do know that a huge chunk of the human population struggles daily to breathe, to eat, to stay warm and to protect themselves from the elements.
From where I sit, there are needs that, if not met, affect our ability to survive . Then there are our want needs. These are wants we need to maintain the status quo, to keep our houses looking nice, to protect our hard earned level of comfort. In other words, these are all the little needs we worked on this weekend. “I need to get the garden work done, I need to clean the china cabinet, I need to have a reliable car” . Lastly, there are the wants. These are all the extras that add more comfort to our already comfortable lives, those things that would seem so frivolous to the people who cannot even meet the most basic of needs. A much fancier car, a designer purse and designer coffee, flavored and topped with something creamy, would all fit into the want category.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to have enough are proud of all that we that we have accomplished and accumulated in our short time here on this earth. We have so much more, we live so well, we are nothing like our ancestors, the cave dwellers. We definitely would not want to go back to living like that. So, I am always puzzled when one of the main arguments naysayers will use when defending their right to eat other species is:
Well, it was good enough for our ancestors, so it is good enough for us.
Huh? Are you kidding me? Even if anthropologists knew for sure that our ancestors did nothing but continually kill nonhuman animals for their food and pleasure as we do, they certainly didn’t enslave them and torture them and kill them and package them as we do, or use them for entertainment, for leather furniture to sit on, ineffective medical research, and so on.
Our ancestors had needs directly connected to their very survival and we have, as a privileged society, wants. Indulging these wants comes at a great cost to the other species with whom we share this earth-domesticated and wild alike. Our fellow humans whose lives revolve around scrambling for enough food to eat, clothes to keep warm and dry places to live, suffer incalculably because of our meat eating culture .
Annie’s Vegan View
I know that many of my needs are really just wants.
I know that much of the human population is not having the most basic of needs met.
I know that farmed animals may have enough food to eat, but live in deplorable conditions without agency over their own lives and have the manner of their life and death prescribed by a cruel meat eating culture.
I now know that choosing to be vegan is a choice that is really a need!
May all beings be happy and free.