I am coming to terms with the a problem I have. It’s a combination of being inwardly, fiercely judgmental of others, and never ever wanting to hurt anyone in anyway.
So I found myself in an interesting situation this past weekend at a lovely Thai restaurant.
I was with my boyfren’s family. They’re largely carnivorous, but they listen to me talk about bananas and seem to like it. Boyfren’s Dad spotted a good friend of his from the local Catholic community sitting and eating alone. Boyfren’s Dad invited Brother Philip to join us at our table. Brother Philip was jolly and corpulent and jovial—just as any “good” friar would look. He wore glasses and his taut round belly hung over his pants. His pad thai was delivered to our extended table and he tucked in happily while enchanting us with interesting tidbits about life in the Catholic Church. His hands shook as he maneuvered his silverware, and I felt a strange twang of pity and sadness that usually happens when I see people, especially old people, struggle to eat.
I definitely, for sure did not ever want to hurt jolly, trembly-handed Brother Philip.
Franciscans, known as Friars and called by Brother, are a sect of Catholic officials devoted to the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is the guy who is often pictured standing by a bird fountain in a verdant garden with birds resting on his hands and furry creatures gathered at his feet. He is the patron saint and protector of animals and ecology.
A pretty basic website dedicated to St.Francis says, “Saint Francis Patron of Animals so loved the animals we remember him as a friend and protector to them.”
I was saying all this to myself as I ate my tofu spring rolls. But I couldn’t stop watching him eat his chicken pad thai. But his pad thai had shredded chicken in it. But there’s dead animals in his food. And to make it worse, one of his main topics of conversation was how he simply couldn’t get enough roast lamb chops when he visited New Zealand.
My question is, how can you be a devotee of St. Francis, Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment, and eat lamb? And on this day, chicken, too?
Or any animal, on any day, for that matter?
In my judgmental mind, there is no way to accommodate a Franciscan eating lamb. His job is to protect the animals and teach others how to protect them, among other topics.
But how does one raise the question politely, at dinner, with someone you don’t know?
I wanted to say, “Isn’t St. Francis the Protector of Animals in the Catholic faith? Then why are you eating baby animals?”
I’m not Catholic and I don’t intend to be. But even I can see it’s a little strange to eat the animals you are supposed to be teaching others to protect.
My issue is that I don’t want to attack people’s values–their meat eating–but then again, I really, really do. There is no reason to eat animals, and there is definitely no reason to eat animals if you preach their protection in your church.
I see it all the time. People smiling and saying namaste and saying how peaceful and compassionate they are. If you practice yoga and preach compassion and kindness, but then you go feast on salmon kebabs or a “healthy” whole-wheat turkey and bacon wrap with cream cheese, you’re not practicing compassion and kindness. If you preach compassion but then say a little bacon sometimes is OK, you are still knowingly choosing to consume the flesh of another living being. Same thing if you grab a quick “healthy” low-fat pumpkin spiced latte–you’re knowingly consuming the secondary reproductive secretions of raped mammals. Because don’t forget, if meat is murder, then dairy is rape–cows have to be pregnant to produce that milk for your seasonal corporate flavored latte, bro!
And that’s what it has come down to, for me: It is no longer enough to say you love animals. If you eat baby sheep by choice, knowingly, and then extol the glory of its tastes at the dinner table while also feasting on tortured chicken, you don’t love animals and you don’t practice their protection.
It’s really all or nothing. You can’t be a little bit compassionate or part-time kind. It has to be always and full-time. You’re not a bad or unkind person if you eat meat–you just aren’t compassionate enough. I want to help people learn to extend their compassion into the greater world. As Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, the world is not lacking in hatred and discrimination–which animals to kill and eat and why–it is lacking in compassion–be kind to all living things no matter what.
It is as simple as asking for soy in your latte, and no chicken in your pad thai.