“It’s a matter of opinion!”
“No it’s not opinion! It is a matter of life and death. Death is a fact: it’s real. Suffering’s real!”
“Well, it’s a matter of opinion!”
Three women were in the lobby, two of them proud of their work in sustainable water use.
I said, “There’s no greater sustainable action that one person can take than being vegan.”
I had no idea what any of them eat. In fact, I knew who they were visiting – a vegan friend of our son.
I had no desire to discuss veganism – I assumed that they were literally living sustainably – for that was their passion.
But the tall one said, “There have to be options!” I didn’t know what she was talking about.
“Yeah, options: A middle way!”
“But there’s no sustainable middle way,” I replied. “And what about the animals?”
“Everybody has a right to their own opinion,” another one said, and began walking out of the building.
“Death is not an opinion. Suffering is not an opinion! Death is death! How is that an opinion?!!”
She walked out muttering, “Everyone can have an opinion,” unwilling to discuss the issue of her opinion regarding the death of another being.
What I wanted to tell her is that everyone is entitled to opine about what ever they want. But do they have the right to take the life of another being – directly or indirectly? Do they have the right to cause suffering? How do they condemn others for polluting water when they eat meat? Check it out: the greatest source of water polution is the meat industry – the huge pig farms, feed lots, and chicken ranches.
I wanted her to know that it was her choice, not her opinion. I wanted her to know that choice was there, acknowledged or not. And I wanted her to take responsibility for her choice – just simply saying, “I choose to eat animals.” It is not an opinion and it is not something that just happens to her. We have to eat and we can choose. This is all about the nature of our existence, of her existence. Choice is an essential aspect of what we are: We are “choosers” and we must acknowledge choice.
Recognizing that we make choices and that each of us is responsible for the choices we make is so difficult for some of us. But it is so necessary – and it’s liberating. To look at your own life and grab it making decisions and rejoicing in your ability to choose – this is the nature being human! To hide from our existential nature is also within our nature, but somehow, somewhere we know deeply that we are flawed . And it is liberating to move toward wholeness.
Finally, recognizing that we choose and acknowledging our responsibility for choice is a movement of meditation. It is mindfulness.
This article was written by stanford