A Brief Introduction

Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Personal Experiments

As I set out to read Gandhi's autobiography, subtitled “The Story of My Experiments With Truth,” I find myself asking many questions. What does it mean to be a person of faith? What does it mean to be a member of the global community? How does that relate to family relationships and local communities? What does it mean to be a man, a human? What does it mean to be queer? How does one practice non-violence in daily life? Is non-violence the solution? Is it a path? What would Jesus do? What does justice look like? How does one foster truth and create justice.

Gandhi viewed his life as a series of experiments. Experiments with nonviolence, with diet, with celibacy. Experiments in creating personal change and spreading social change. This idea of experimentation resonates with me. Conversations I had over many months led me to understand the impact of diet, demand, and food processing on not only the environment but on the economy and ability to deal with poverty. I was not an overnight convert. As I strive to maintain a vegetarian diet, I find myself not living up to that ideal. “Stumbling”, “slipping”, “falling” are Christianese words I might have used in the past.

Is perfection possible? Perhaps the lens I should look through is not purity. Let's be honest, one person's vegetarian diet is not going to end the abuse of creation nor solve global hunger. When I understand my pursuit to be one of many experiments, the weight is lifted a bit. I have some breathing room.

In April, I made the decision to work toward a vegan diet. Having been a vegetarian for almost a year, it was not hard to begin removing the remaining animal products from my diet. Life happened. A series of stresses, increasing time away from my apartment and ability to cook for myself, lots of travel. I cracked. A pretty gross “chicken” sandwich at Roy Rogers was my undoing. There are so many problems in the world: US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, violence across the global, a food crisis, global hunger, rising gas prices, domestic party, the second-rate treatment of LGBT people. And a chicken sandwich the only option unless I want to skip dinner or subsist on french fries. Great.

A chicken sandwich is not the end of the world. Yes, there are many problems inherent in the meat industry. But at that moment, I was juggling too many other experiments. Experiments in social justice for LGBT people and a reawakening that I—as a privileged member of Western society—have much to account for when it comes to my, perhaps indirect, subjugation of the world to my desires.

The seas have settled. I have centered myself and my advocacy around queer issues in New York City. I am educating myself around poverty, hunger, and homelessness issues. I'm preparing for studies and service. With those experiments in balance, I can return to my experiment with a vegetarian diet. Why adopt such a diet? What are the benefits? And more importantly, what are the costs? Are there unintended consequences? How do I balance a desire to reject violence and excess with the risk of indulging in what CS Lewis describes as a new kind of gluttony... a gluttony of “moderation” made to order through imposition?

I don't know. Perhaps a vegetarian diet isn't the answer. Perhaps non-violence is untenable. Perhaps the critics are correct and religion is not a force for good in the world. Perhaps.

In experimentation I have the freedom to be unsure. To test, to observe, to analyze and to adjust.

In what ways have you experimented?

1 comment:

Joey7777 said...

Hey guy: I don't believe in vegetarianism, nor pacifism, and I'm skeptical of religion (I'm more an ex-Catholic Deist than anything). But is religion a force for good in the world? I always enjoy that question. I can tell you, as a fan of the history books, that there hasn't been one atheist society that wasn't a mass murdering mess (including China and Cuba of today). Yes, there have been times when mankind has seen religious fanatics and tyrants (especially in the Islamic world today) but lack-of-religion (or some kind of spiritual karmic moral belief, at least) in a society seems to always lead to trouble. Just my conclusion. But stay open-minded and keep "searvching", as they say. -Joe

 
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