“I had no idea it was that terrible… I’ve got to do something.”
Prior to joining an animal rights club in high school, I had no idea how animals were treated; however, I exclaimed the above sentiment the instant I learned about the massive industrial operations that raise and kill animals in the most grisly of scenarios.
It can be difficult to admit ignorance. Ignorance is sometimes a choice, and sometimes isn’t. What I believe is worse than ignorance, though, is learning the truth and continuing to act ignorantly. When light is shed on a particular matter, is it not our obligation to let our actions resonate with our newly discovered knowledge? Should not our behaviors align as closely as possible with our understanding of the world’s truths?
“I had no idea it was as terrible as that! We’ve got to do something!”
These words were spoken by Harry Truman upon learning about the brutal murder of Isaac Woodard, an African American WWII veteran who had been killed upon returning home to the United States. Truman went on to say, “My very stomach turned over when I learned that Negro soldiers were being dumped out of army trucks in Mississippi and beaten. Whatever my inclinations as a native of Missouri might have been, as President I know this is bad.” He went on to expand the Civil Rights component of the Justice Department and pass anti-lynching legislation.
Truman did not let fears of alienating his Southern constituents override his desire to do what was right. He also admitted his previously imperfect views.
Humility, without a doubt, is one of the best attributes one can possess. Humility is an absence of the ego, it is a relinquishment of one’s pride, and in a great many cases it fosters the most beautiful endeavors for justice and the most powerful emissions of love the world has ever known. When deliberating a personal decision, I believe the right answer is always known from the onset; in other words, it is always felt, first, viscerally, before the mind has time to process or rationalize it, or in many cases, ignore it.
To grasp firmly on to that elucidation of what is right before our ego tries to distort and skew it, before our ego tries to vindicate our previous course of action which we now know to be flawed, is one of the most noble goals.
This very same train of thought applies to transcending into a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle. Many of us do not become vegans or vegetarians even though we know it is the right thing to do, for fear of being alienated by family or friends, or simply because we refuse to give up the gustatory delight that meat provides us; but, this sense of fear and weakness are products of our ego. My personal guarantee is that upon taking the leap toward a more ethical lifestyle, your satisfaction in making the world a better place (plus the health benefits you will feel) will alleviate any and all doubts you ever had.
Gunita Singh is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences studying political science. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.