Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Online Support Groups?
When you turn vegan, one of the first steps you take is to join an online vegan chat group – to find support of course. And then, surprisingly, you witness group members at loggerheads with each other. You wonder if you’ve missed something here. Here are people who talk about compassion for animals and all that, but where is their patience, tolerance and compassion to hear out genuine doubts. Of course, many times there are troublemakers, whose purpose is just that. But not all who ask difficult questions are troublemakers.
There will be questions that challenge one’s idea of veganism, but should that call for aggressive reactions, or for careful thought. You are laying the foundation of a concept. Instead one finds the attitude of –‘how can anyone even get a thought that uses animals, its sacrilege!’ I feel it does more harm than good to the cause. You, as a beginner, get scared to verbalize your concerns! Furthermore, instead of providing support, all it provides is guilt, fear, self-doubt. One cannot dare to ask what to do when a dilemma presents. You know the reply. Every situation is seen in one light. “The meaning of veganism should not get diluted.” Period. That is most sacred to a vegan.
Should it be so? Should it induce fights and name-calling? Here is someone who is trying to take baby steps towards a good cause. But God forbid, if he loses his balance, he’s going to be kicked on his butt! Well..?!
Compassion is about extending one’s love. Before aggressive reactions, one needs to separate the wheat from the chaff! Is the person really a troublemaker or is he faltering and looking for support? Does he need a firm hand to put him in line or does he just need a hand to steady himself? Is veganism about external appearances or a personal choice? One needs to understand that veganism for everyone may not mean – proving a point to the world or displaying a loftier than thou attitude. It takes all kinds of people to make a world. The vegan world too will have all kinds. Don’t expect everyone to be an activist and be prepared with a lecture – even to enlighten others! One ought to accept those people too who are satisfied with self-change only. They want to enjoy that feeling within, that comes from a positive transformation of any kind. Have the compassion to understand that; to let him enjoy in his own space. Maybe when he has derived all the pleasure from his transformation he’ll come with a bang! ….or maybe not!
Accept him anyway.
I might accept physical aggression on the field, in an attempt to save an animal from slaughter, but on a chat forum for presenting a thought – no I don’t. Veganism is about love and compassion, not about the precision of its definition. Agreed it’s a concept just taking shape, so spread its definition, rather than negativity. If vegans have to resort to name-calling, which, by the way, is aggressive too, then where is the compassion? ….or is compassion just a word to use for convenience's sake? When a heart is truly filled with love and compassion, it behaves without aggression – with all. There is nothing like selective compassion. If a person gets aggressive on chat forums, does that make him/her more vegan?
Note- The pronoun him is not meant to refer only to males but to people of all genders. Him is used only for convenience of writing.