14 Oct All forms of oppression are WRONG!
So it’s been more than a year since I’ve turned Vegan. I used to think that it’s a fad diet. But for the last few months, I’ve spent 700+ hrs of learning and unlearning about what Veganism truly is. Now I don’t just stop consuming or buying animal-derived products, but I try my level best to be a voice for all the other non-human animals.
I’ve been having a lot of friendly conversations and debates. I love doing this because every single time I get a new argument, I think of it as an opportunity to introspect and observe.
But lately, I’ve realized that not all conversations turn out to be open-minded.
So a few weeks ago, I was with my friend’s family.
We were talking about random stuff about movies, vacations, etc.
The scene was pretty chill. Like always.
But I don’t know what triggered her, my friend’s mom suddenly turned towards me and said that she’s been a bit angry with me lately. Her words in quotes were “Recently you’ve been putting up a lot of videos saying how ugly the meat industry is and you’re even pulling God and religion into this, which is very wrong. Don’t forget that all your friends eat and whenever you put up stuff like this, you are making them uncomfortable. What type of a friend are you? You’re even making me uncomfortable”.
For which my answer was: “I’m so sorry that you felt this way, but I don’t remember myself putting up any hateful things about non-vegans. I always make sure that I only showcase the real things that are happening right now. They are not made up out of my personal opinions. I rarely tell if it’s right or wrong. I like to leave my videos as open-ended questions for the audience if they feel it’s right. So what do you feel aunty?
I was quite surprised by the argument. It was “You don’t get the right to ask such questions because don’t forget that you’re not born this way either. You’re not a Brahmin”. But isn’t this playing the victim card? Cuz it’s never about one vs other. It’s never about humans at all. Neither of us is the victim. As soon as I said this, I heard her saying “Do you think that we all are fools?” Here I was sensing that things are slightly getting heated. And honestly, I didn’t want that to happen. I tried my level best to answer politely “There are a lot of things happening in this world. Slavery, Robbery, Murders, Rapes, Drugs, etc. Yes. There are always enough people doing everything. But that doesn’t mean that you and I have to continue doing the same thing. I don’t think I would. My question is, why would you?
She immediately got very angry with my question. She started shouting at me.
I was just shocked and was staring at her. Meanwhile, my friend was sitting next to his mom with huge embarrassment. He tried to stop her, trying to deviate from the topic. But he was also made to keep his mouth shut.
The line used was “Stop giving me back answers. You’re not that big yet!”.
I was just observing with an open mind what’s happening with a plain expression.
There are 3 reasons for this:
- I was still in shock.
- I felt that this is a great opportunity to observe and understand the psychology behind her words.
- She is my friend’s mom. I can’t ruin our friendship by giving another “back answer”.
I just kept my mouth shut and allowed her to pour all her anger out for 30 mins straight. I was full of mixed feelings all that time. I was sad, scared, and angry that such a situation had to occur with someone I care about. But I also was, having a keen observation of every single word that came out of her mouth.
I think it’s not just about veganism anymore. I genuinely felt that behind this one mask, lies a lot of other layers such as agism, speciesism, casteism, etc. I don’t blame her either. Maybe it’s not her fault. To be honest I’ve been facing some similar discussions within my own family too. It’s too hard to talk to my mom about feminism when she believes that :
– Women need to get married around the age of 20.
– Men are supposed to be the money makers.
– A woman’s character is easily judged by the time she gets back home daily, there are 1000 eyes on her, and it’s her responsibility to live up to them.
You see where I’m going with this right. It’s not just about Veganism and saving animals. We as a species have bred various types of discriminations (some knowingly and some unknowingly in the name of culture) for generations. And to be honest I don’t want to carry them on and be a link in this chain. Not when I am capable enough to observe at least. For example all my childhood, I used to make fun of some of my friends for being dark-skinned. I always thought that it’s normal and fun. But when I was exposed to the fact that my behavior is an act of oppression and has a term to it called “racism”, I cannot repeat that anymore. My whole perspective changes. And I think conversations like this are what make these perspective shifts happen.
It is tough. It is tough when we stand for a cause and there comes a situation when we have to raise our voice on the people we love and care about. In the end, relationships are meant to be nurtured; not torn apart. This one single conversation with a friend’s mom has left a very deep scar in my heart teaching this one thing. I am genuinely looking for more ways to address the issue. There’s no way that one way is better than another. But this being said, I also strongly believe that asking the right questions and being open enough to learn/answer them is always a quality to have as a human being.
So why not end this with the same question?
Why should we choose to be on the dominant side of any form of oppression, when we’re capable of observing that it is what it is, and we don’t need to?