HOW WE EXCUSE OUR HABITS

My Flixster account gave me some free movies, among them The Perfect Storm with George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane and other good actors. It is not the kind of movie I had planned on watching but because it was free, I thought, why not. As a Vegan, this movie gave me a good view of our speciesist behavior and how far it can be carried. The movie follows a group of fishermen hell bent on catching as many fishes as they can. They follow George Clooney on his fishing boat to hell in order to make money. 

It is striking that this movie is set in the 1990s during Hurricane Grace (the movie was shot in 2000) and that there was already some environmental awareness. It is supposedly based on a true story. It is obviously another movie with the cliché of man vs. the environment. We get the typical « we will prevail » moto and the hell with the damage we cause. Although, the « heroes » don’t survive it. They spend a good chunk of the movie enjoying their killing spree of big tunas, even showing the animals’ guts being taken out. I don’t think they used props for this as it looked very real to me (someone may correct me if I am wrong). Real animals seem to have died. They show real pleasure in doing so, which demonstrate how indoctrinated they are with their cultural habits. What is even more shocking is how they throw away the « bycatch » to the ocean with obvious disregard. There is not one ounce of regard for the fate of animals in this movie. 

The other really disturbing part of this movie is how they ignore the connection between over-fishing the ocean and the hurricane. The characters spend a great deal of time looking for fish that has obviously already been decimated in various parts of the ocean before they finally find a large group of fish to take. The destruction of the ocean is directly linked to climate change, hence the big hurricane which ironically hits them during the story. 

The final really disturbing part is how they will blindly risk their lives for their greed and obsession with selling the fish corpses they caught. This is the part of the movie where we are supposed to cheer them on as « brave », « courageous », etc… This is the part where I thought, if you get killed, that is your karma for not learning when you should. This movie is interesting in part but also so full of clichés, that it will easily be forgotten by me. Plus, you get an overdose of killing after 5 minutes. I believe the worst line of the movie is Diane Lane screaming to Michael Ironside (as the supposed villain) that « My man is out there risking his life for a bunch of stupid fish ». It is not the fish that is stupid, but humans for allowing themselves to believe that there is no alternative to the old ways. I didn’t find the characters particularly likable during the entire movie even though the actors themselves were very good. They seem to brag a lot (« I will get shit loads of fish ») and care only about the bottom line. I can’t really sympathize with them except on the level that I, as well, used to be part of the system too. I just never directly killed and paid someone else to do it. In a court of law, however, that makes me even more guilty. 


In the world right now, we have millions of people who, each day, excuse their own cultural (and/or religious) habits with « oh, i can’t be Vegan, it is too expensive », or « i tried it but it was too hard », or « there are no Vegan foods where I live », or « I like my meat » or even « God gave us animals to eat them » and other such non sense. As the movie above shows, deeply entrenched habits pervades all aspects of society, wherever you live. It is not simply some groups, it is everyone. But as the movie shows as well, there is a total absence of a higher thinking at work or alternative proposed. The movie is set in America. This is a country which uses up 25% of all resources in the world for just 2% of the world’s population. There ARE alternatives to fishing, like re-learning a trade that doesn’t involve killing and the destruction of the ocean. Yet, society at large (just as implied in this movie too) wants us to believe that some people have no choice. As I pointed out in a previous blog, if you live in a very poor country like the Congo and have nothing else, this is excusable (note that I didn’t say right). But in America, with all the incredible resources that we have, where is the excuse? I see none. We just want to cling to things of the past because it gives us comfort and some security. 

What this country as well as other industrialized countries fail to do (like this movie) is to recognize that we need to have higher thinking. Our egos have to die for the greater good because we simply don’t have time to wait anymore. We are also enslaved to powerful hidden (and not so hidden) interests who want us not to change. These includes banksters (to use a term from Thom Hartmann), corporations and the powerful behind the politicians they buy. There is no such thing as real choice from a societal point of view. The only choice we have is to wake up from the sleeping state we have all been put in and reject as much as we can what is being fed to us physically, mentally and spiritually. 

There is a universal constant to the human condition. We hate to change. If we change, it is because we are left with no choice or because pain forces us too. We also have this bad habit of not evolving faster than our technical abilities. We end up with destructive tendencies. The way to evolution is not to live more and more technologically complex lives, it is to relearn simplicity and wisdom. That wisdom has not left us. We simply buried it under tons of ridiculous daily rituals designed to keep us enslaved. 

In many ways, this is not really the fault of the individual that he has so many reasons to resist. None of these reasons are valid but they are all rooted in the same problem: cultural indoctrination. The way to break this is to show them that they have nothing to fear by changing, and everything to gain instead. We all win by going Vegan on this planet. There are no losers. I try to remember that for each issues we face in the world, there is always a minority which creates real changes. It never comes from the masses or the ones at the top. It always comes from a few at the bottom who want to shake the boat. We have to be the shakers, those who shine a bright light to the darkness out there. Because if we don’t, who will?

A Vegan Day in San Diego

Between October 26 and October 30, I had to travel to San Diego for a work seminar. As it turned out, not having a vehicle, I decided that Greyhound would be a nice option as well as local taxis to see the sights. I didn’t want to waste my time on figuring out local public transportation as, really, I was left with only 1 day to see San Diego. So before I left I made a small list of a few places to visit while there and it was well worth it. 

After 2 days of boring tax seminars (lol), I had my trip well planned for the final 3rd day. So I got up early, got in a taxi and headed for one of the two Loving Huts Restaurants which grace San Diego. I picked the one located on El Cajon Blvd. I was greeted by the sound of Suprememastertv on arrival and a very polite staff. I immediately looked at the menu. It was really hard to choose. Everything looked wonderful. I decided to have enough to eat on location but also take some food to go. I started with Cheese Bread (Toasted bread with vegan cheese, vegan mayonnaise, soy « ham » and onion). It was so good, i asked for a second serving. Absolutely delicious. To that I added Lucky Lemon Grass (Veggie Fillet, lemongrass, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, carrots with homemade dressing served with streamed brown rice with sesame seed) and was ready to die of pleasure! I had to drink something and got a Cranberry Cooler (boy did it cool me!) and ended up the meal with Cheese Cake. Probably one of the best cheese cake I’ve had in ages. All this was very reasonably priced and i had enough leftover to take with me and eat for dinner. 

After stuffing myself with culinary delights, I was lucky to find out that the store I had wanted to visit in San Diego was only a few blocks away. So I took my leftovers with me and headed towards All Vegan on Park Blvd. As of this writing, I do not know if All Vegan has actually closed down. When I visited, I talked to the person in charge that day who told me that, sadly, it was supposed to close down for Christmas 2011. There is always a lot of sadness when a Vegan business closes down for various reasons. We are all struggling to get the Vegan lifestyle and philosophy out there. All Vegan boosted numerous products for sale from Recycled Eco Handbags (I bought a gorgeous purse from Reveal made out of Recycled Polyester which comes from old plastic bottles), shoes, stickers, t-shirts, vitamins (got some B12 vitamins), etc…. It would have been advantageous for this store to get online sales going but…. I am not the store owner. Thank you All Vegan for your service to the Vegan San Diego community though. 

 

After leaving All Vegan, I walked a block and found a very nice Buddhist Bookstore called Buddha’s Light. It is the San Diego chapter of the Buddha’s Light International Association. They have tons of books, incense, various Buddhist items. I left with a little statuette of Buddha to add to my altar at home.

 

After walking and visiting all these places, I got back on a taxi and asked the driver to take me to a nice beach close by. It took longer than I thought but got to a very nice area boardwalk facing the ocean. It was a beautiful day. I stopped by a small outlet and got a smoothie with a shot of wheatgrass (which I had purchased in a liquor store near Buddha’s Light!) and kept walking. I met a nice woman who became my guide for the next hour or so. She took me back inside the city to a great inner lake area of San Diego where people relax and little boats are frequent. What is also frequent apparently are weddings right there and then. We were not there 5 mns that we were witnesses to a live wedding! She then took me inside the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa. I want to stay there next time I am in San Diego! The place is beautiful and it has inner gardens which look a bit like a jungle. Ducks peacefully swim on the water inside the garden. It is amazing! I saw at least 6 different species of happy looking ducks. She explained that it can get crowded by people wanting to see them but that mostly, they have a lot of peace. I left this place with regret and got back to the boardwalk after thanking my impromptu guide for such a good time. 

After this great day, I went back to the Crown Plaza Hotel where I was staying and rested in my hotel room. I savored my remaining Loving Hut food. Before checking out the next morning, it occurred to me that I should treat myself to a nice massage that the hotel was providing. So I met with a real cool British massage lady who wrapped me up in aromatherapy towels smelling absolutely wonderful of herbs and essential oils. She then proceeded to give me a full body massage. Let me tell you, after a long year of work, that was heaven! 

After this great ending, I gathered my stuff, jumped back in a taxi, then to the Greyhound station. I went back home feeling really great and with the feeling of having done a lot in one day.