“French butchers warn about vegan violence” said the title of an article I read a few days ago. It seems absurd, but it is real and it is a very serious problem. French butchers addressed a letter to the French Minister of Interior to ask for protection against vegan activists who threaten them and vandalize their butcher shops.
This piece of news reminded me of an idea I had at some point and I searched to see if this case is unique. It is not! Similar cases have occurred in the past two years in England, the United States, and France.
When I wrote the book “Terrorism and Counter-terrorism in the EU: lessons from the past “, in an attempt to define extremism, I chose veganism as an example. This is what I said back then: “One could argue that being a vegan is an extreme alimentary and life choice. Does this make a vegan an extremist? Probably, even though it feels uneasy and wrong to call someone extremist just because he or she has a view that is not embraced by the rest of the population on a topic as light as food preferences. This is because, just as it was expressed in the previous chapter about terrorism, the word ‘extremist’ has a vilified connotation. Yes, if he or she turns to extreme violence and terror in order to make everyone else vegan you could most likely call him or her a violent extremist or even terrorist.”
At that point, I was not aware of these vegan vandalism cases. I picked veganism as an example because it seemed to be the least likely and the most absurd scenario. It seems that either I was wrong, or our society reached the peak of absurdity.
I, by no means, argue that all vegans have radical attitudes. However, I find the vegan vandalism cases disappointing because they often state that their veganism is due to their compassion for animals. I strongly believe that vegans, in general, are rational and have an above average level of empathy and social and human consciousness! But, I cannot stop from wishing to ask vegan vandals: how about compassion for our kin?
The issue, however, is more profound than just a vocabulary debate. This is a problem of morality and humanity that is not limited to vegans, but is reflected in many other life and ideological preferences.
I am aware that it is said that we live in the post-truth era, which is based on emotions rather than logical arguments. Nevertheless, just because someone says something is in a certain way, it does not mean that it has to be that way! Logical thinking is what distinguishes us from animals. We, as opposed to animals, have the option to act other than emotionally or instinctually. We have approximately 6,500 languages in the world that allow us to express ourselves other than by booing, swearing or reciting repetitive slogans that, in essence, do not say anything. More so, we no longer live in caves and we no longer need to show dominance by employing violent means or physical acts.
Humanity has fought too much and for too long for us, in 2018, to be able to solve our problems in a different manner, and for us to be able to aspire to more than just wishing to humiliate and dominate the others by throwing stones. There are people, contemporaries of ours, who dream about going to Mars and actually do everything in their power to make their dream come true. Others want to find treatments for incurable diseases. Others want to create art to brighten people’s souls and eyes. Others want to build better functioning societies.
We certainly can do better than jumping at each other’s throats for the ideas we believe in. We have, thank goodness, the (peaceful) means to attempt to convince the others that our ideas are better and why. We also have the possibility to listen to the others’ ideas and decide which idea is better. Without doing all of the above we will all turn into tiny dictators, case in which, I assure you, we are signing our death sentence.