Category Archives: Nonviolence

Kate Lawrence on media overconsumption

The Practical Peacemaker, by Kate Lawrence - coverKate Lawrence, author of The Practical Peacemaker: How Simple Living Makes Peace Possible (Lantern Books) was interviewed as part of the “Authors @ Douglas County Libraries” series. This is the third short excerpt from the interview, on media overconsumption and advertising, recently uploaded to YouTube. For more about the book see Kate’s blog.

Kate Lawrence on vegetarianism

Kate Lawrence, author of The Practical Peacemaker: How Simple Living Makes Peace Possible (Lantern Books) was interviewed as part of the “Authors @ Douglas County Libraries” series. I have recently uploaded the following short excerpt on vegetarianism from the interview to YouTube. For more about the book see Kate’s blog.

Degrowth and Veganism

"Degrowth" is something natural and beautiful

“Degrowth” is something natural and beautiful

How can we deal with climate change, let alone peak oil, water shortages, deforestation, and everything else — given that truly effective environmental action would probably stop the economy from growing and totally change everyone’s lifestyle?

Our whole economy depends on fossil fuels, and our livestock-centered agricultural system is pillaging the earth’s biosphere. Veganism is surely part of the needed approach here. Continue reading

Moral Tribes — review

Moral Tribes.  Emotion, Reason and the Gap Between Us and Them.  By Joshua Greene.  Penguin Press, 2013.

What’s the best way to talk about moral issues? This is obviously something that activists worry about a lot, whether their cause is veganism, the environment, climate change, or anything.

According to Joshua Greene, the problem is not lack of basic morality, but in competing moralities. There are many different moral cultures or subcultures, which share among themselves certain ethical ideas which, to them, are obvious. But these ideas differ from those of other moral cultures — the “moral tribes” referred to in the title. Anyone who is interested in this problem, or in moral philosophy and moral psychology in general, should at least take a look at Moral Tribes. Continue reading

Chris Hedges: Go Vegan for the Planet

Chris Hedges has seen "Cowspiracy"

Chris Hedges was a war correspondent, worked for the Greens in 2008 and 2012, and was part of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. He’s also, interestingly enough, a Presbyterian minister. He is known to me personally mostly as the author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, a book which is at once interesting, powerfully written, and quite disturbing. It was so powerful, in fact, that I couldn’t finish it. Forcing myself to finish it would be like forcing a vegan to watch slaughterhouse footage. I get it already; I don’t want to watch it.

Chris Hedges is also now a vegan, citing serious environmental concerns. He describes this in his recent article, “Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time.” Continue reading

The Global Guide To Animal Protection

The Global Guide To Animal Protection. Edited by Andrew Linzey.  University of Illinois Press, 2013.

Andrew Linzey, tireless campaigner for animals, advocate of Christian vegetarianism, and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, has edited a marvelous book about animals worldwide. The Global Guide to Animal Protection is an encyclopedia of animal issues that is truly global — and we’re not just talking about on land, but in the sea as well. If you live with a dog, or have been to a PETA demonstration, or try your hand at preparing vegan meals, or have written letters opposing “Sea World,” or have joined a vegetarian group, then this book will likely tell you quite a bit in connection with any or all of the areas of concern to which you have just barely been exposed. Continue reading

Is Violence Declining?

Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, in The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Penguin Books, 2011), argues that human violence has declined. Violence was much more widespread in primitive societies than in historical times, and more widespread in the Middle Ages than in the twentieth century — yes, even worse than the First and Second World Wars. After reading his lengthy but quite readable book, I am convinced — violence between humans has indeed declined. It’s an engrossing and ground-breaking book, by the way; everyone from Peter Singer to the Wall Street Journal has praised it.

However, there are a few small points I want to raise concerning the book. Specifically, violence towards animals has increased; and the peace between humans is largely dependent on our relative affluence, which in turn depends on our exploitation of natural resources, which are now seriously depleted. Continue reading

“Be the Change” — where did this saying come from?

“We must be the change we want to see in the world.”  This is one of the most widely quoted sayings attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.  But did Gandhi actually say this?  In June 2009 I posted an article questioning whether Gandhi actually said this. While this statement is everywhere on the internet, tracking down a reliable print source is much more difficult.  Now, I have a better idea of where this saying comes from, and the answer certainly surprised me. Continue reading

Is the Gospel of Thomas Vegetarian?

Blessed is a lion that a man eats,
because that lion will become human.
Cursed is a man that a lion eats,
because that lion will become human. (Gospel of Thomas 7)

The Gospel of Thomas, discovered at Nag Hammadi, doesn’t contain anything obviously vegetarian.  In saying 12 Jesus advises the disciples to follow “James the Just” after he is gone.  Saying 71 has Jesus saying, “I will destroy this house,” which reminds us of the gospel sayings about the temple being destroyed.  Both of these hint indirectly at vegetarianism.  Continue reading

Slaughter as Art

A beautiful creature

“The Story of Chickens — a Revolution” is an art project sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas.  The stated purpose of the project is “to transform the contemporary view of chickens as merely ‘livestock’ to the beautiful and unique creatures they are, while promoting alternative and healthy processes of caring for them.”  So far, so good!  This is something I might actually be able to get behind.

The kicker, though, comes at the end: the chickens will be publicly slaughtered, and then fed to participants at a potluck. Continue reading

The Basic Income

We all understand the importance of eliminating mindless consumerism and learning to live more simply. But at the same time we face huge economic inequalities. If we truly all start to live simply, won’t this mean that we’ll be producing less, working less, and buying less? Won’t “simple living” and environmentalism hurt the economy and thus the poor as well? A lot of people are hung up with the idea of “green growth,” but we need to face the facts. If we started living simply, it would mean that economic output would decline. For the environment, and for the planet, this would be great news, as the planet is being pillaged for the sake of our consumer fancies; but in the meantime, won’t this hurt the poor? Continue reading

What Caused the Civil War?

The Battle of Gettysburg (Currier and Ives)

The Battle of Gettysburg (Currier and Ives)

Today is the 150th anniversary of South Carolina’s secession from the Union, the action which precipitated the Civil War. Edward Ball has written an opinion piece in the New York Times clearly blaming slavery as the root cause of the civil war. It was not about “small government, limited federal powers and states’ rights.” He quotes South Carolina’s statement at the time: “The non-slaveholding states . . . have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery” and “have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes.”

So did slavery cause the Civil War? This is close, but not quite right on two essential points. Continue reading

Lierre Keith and the Celebrated Pie Incident

"The Vegetarian Myth"

“The Vegetarian Myth”

I had been wading through Lierre Keith’s anti-vegetarian book The Vegetarian Myth, and taking notes to make a response, when I heard that some vegans had thrown pies in her face as she was trying to give a talk at an anarchist book fair.

Throwing pies in anyone’s face is just flat out wrong. I don’t care if her book is filled with errors, or whether there was cayenne pepper in the pies or not, or whether she is now using this as an opportunity to promote her book and views. Continue reading