Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cheaper by the Parable

Victor and Maxwell were neighbours. Both Vic and Max were proud of their backyards, and each considered theirs to be a masterpiece. Vic's yard was natural, filled with indigenous flora, cunningly landscaped to resemble a natural forest setting. Max's yard was modern and spartan, with a rock-paved patio and a chlorinated swimming pool. Max was happy with his backyard, and took a great deal of pleasure in relaxing there after work.

Vic was happy with his backyard, but he didn't like Max's. He felt that Max should rip up the concrete, and put down natural grasses and bushes. He felt he should take out the swimming pool, and replace it with a natural cascading waterfall. Vic felt that he would be much happier if he didn't have to look at Max's backyard, and could instead look upon a yard like his own. He didn't care about the fact that Max was happy with his yard; only his own opinion mattered.

At neighbourhood functions, Vic would often remark to the neighbours how much better his yard was than Max's. After all, it was natural, and natural is better, right? He was allowing trees and bushes to live, and also oxygenating the local atmosphere. Max's yard was a travesty, cruel to the local animal and vegetable populations. The swimming pool even added chlorine to the ground water!
At first, Max was surprised to hear about Vic's opinions. After all, it was his yard, and he could do what he wanted with it. Surprise soon turned to annoyance as Vic took any opportunity to expound his beliefs - even though most of the neighbours clearly didn't want to hear about it.
Max decided to go to the local garden center, just to find out what it would take to convert his yard to one like Vic's. He spoke with a representative, who told him about Vic's methods - the chemical fertilizers, the specially genetically modified bushes (that held their shape and didn't require trimming), the new breed of short grass that never had to be mowed.
Max realized that Vic's "natural" garden wasn't very natural after all. When he mentioned this to Vic, Vic merely sneered and pointed out that it was a hell of a lot more natural than Max's. Max replied that a rock patio was much more natural than genetically modified short grass. Vic disagreed, and called Max a murderer.
Ok, thinly veiled parable over. I'm talking about vegetarians vs. Meat-eaters here. I'm trying to clarify my point for those who seem to desire to cling to individual issues while stubbornly missing the original point.
My point is this: whether you are a vegetarian or a carnivore, you have to accept that both are valid life choices. If your choice leaves you feeling morally superior, if your beliefs shut your mind down to point where you will no longer respect the rights or opinions of others, then you have surpassed the rational, and turned your belief system into a religion. Respect and acceptance goes much further in this world than intolerance or a sense of smug superiority.
So, if you are a vegetarian (or vegan), try to remember that your lifestyle choice is exactly that - a choice. You are no better and no worse than someone who chooses to eat meat. There are pros and cons to both sides, and you will go much further in life carrying an attitude of respect towards those with opposite view points.
If I have come across as intolerant towards vegetarians, I did not mean to do so. After all, I did clarify at the beginning of the post that I had nothing against vegetarians. I respect anyone who can maintain their belief system, as long as they respect the rights and beliefs of others. As I had thought I had communicated in my original rant, I am intolerant of anyone - anyone - who is so ensconced in their beliefs that they feel justified in being rude and disrespectful to someone who disagrees with them (like my cousin who berated the meat eaters at Christmas).

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