Winter always feels like a time of hibernation to me. Whilst the sparkling of diamond-like icicles on every blade of grass and Narnia-esque landscapes invoke a poetic retrospection (and a great opportunity for moody monotone photographs) I long for Spring.
I have long known that my natural nihilistic malaise at the state of the world requires the kaleidoscopes of blossoming flowers, babbling brooks and birdsong to balance me out with intense bursts of joy. Spring and Summer make days long and everything just that bit more magical for me. I revert to feral child and have to examine every flower, every bud, learn every birdsong and immerse myself in nature. This recent cold snap, I marvelled at frost that created ice flowers on dead hogweed stems and the sacredness of the geometric icicles but the cold drove me back inside where I huddled next to the fire and dreamed of bluebells in May. I yearn for barefoot walking and buttercups swaying in gentle breezes at Cwm Caredig but instead, I am stowed away in our perfectly cosy new home in Llandysul grateful for the return of the mains water we went without for days due to the big freeze. Grateful but still a wee bit whingey if I am honest. Grateful I am allowed to be authentically pensive. Grateful Paul doesn’t expect me to bounce around like Tigger when I’m more like Eeyore at the moment. And I’m super grateful my good friends don't mind if I don't join in with Christmas or Solstice gatherings. They know why and I don’t need to justify or rationalise my choices to them. The relief is such that it feels joyful. Like Frankie Beverley sang; 'Joy and pain, like sunshine and rain' I am both.
I am grateful I have a space that feels like a sanctuary on this, the shortest day of the year. Tomorrow is Christmas Day, but unlike so many Brits that will be faking polite smiles and ‘keeping the peace’ in toxic family get-togethers where landfill is not considered and nor are the lives of sentient beings that are slaughtered and roasted to celebrate the birth of a baby boy 2022 year ago, we stopped ‘doing Christmas' three years ago. It was so liberating, so stress-free and so wonderfully affordable that we don’t particularly want to go back to the pressure and abject consumerism. We will mark the occasion with some delicious food, but to be honest, we do that everyday! Food can be such a wonderful, mindful celebration of life. And a powerful way to protest the current norms.
I recently held the first of our soon-to-be-regular ‘Sunday Sessions’ where we came together as a community and discussed some of the more important issues surrounding us at this point of our civilisation. We are living in strange times where television, social media and other addictions have stopped us engaging with each other in meaningful ways, so these sessions are part of a movement towards congregating without doctrine or religion so we we can talk and listen and evolve.
To me, it is a fellowship; one without religion or dogma getting in the way of discussing how we can address some of the more pressing issues preventing our evolution. We had planned to record the sessions and release them as podcasts but due to technical issues, the session went unrecorded. Perhaps in Spring I will revisit the idea but for now, I am happy to share my theory on discrimination in written form. The sessions may well become chapters in a book I am writing on The Eden Movement, who knows? Our community sessions almost always involve plant-based feasting, so after the seriousness of discussing discrimination, we had a delicious curry and got to know each other a little more, including the two newbies that had joined us. Then we jammed in a way that created some joyful chaos followed by the soulful words of David’s poetry.
To enjoy these sessions, (by the way, our sober ‘Groundations’ are basically outdoor versions of these gatherings) it requires a willingness to drop the smalltalk and go straight to the heart of deeper matters. It requires us to face the truth and see ourselves in the mirror we hold up to one another. It isn’t for everyone, but for the more diverse neurotypes, there is a definite sense of coming home; where you are free to be yourself and still be welcome. Where no-one is victim-shamed for sharing their testimonies, and Eeyore is just as welcome as Tigger. It presents an opportunity for the uninitiated to finally overcome the internal speciesism, ableism and racism endemic in our society and open themselves up to the philosophy and practice of radical honesty. Of living authentically.
Some of what I have to say isn’t easy to hear, but instead of hedonistically seeking good vibes at the expense of being real, I implore everyone to get beyond the rage of cognitive dissonance and see that my attempt to deliver the truth (as I see it of course) is an act of love. At the very least it’s an opportunity to further your understanding of another’s position. You are of course entitled to disagree, but let’s talk about why. Let’s normalise having these kind of conversations. If you value personal growth, you won't shy away from them.
I always admire people who are willing to change their mind when presented with facts that sit in conflict to their narratives. Healed people are much more likely to take the risks of letting go of core beliefs, but it is still a challenge to have to let go of the stories we had been told and continue to tell ourselves. We have to get beyond our egos. For many people living with unresolved trauma this can be too big an ask.
Unless you are are willing to unlearn everything you think you know, you will not be able to truly empathise. If you are willing and also able (not everyone is) to consider whether a narrative is true or false, you must be prepared to consider the possibility that you have been operating under falsehoods. There is no shame in this, as we are all conditioned to some degree. Recognising where is the first step to personal growth, so with this in mind, I am going to share my thoughts on discrimination!
Apart from an extraordinarily small minority, we are all born with the capacity to love and feel. Newborn babies are not born with malice or guile, but rather crave love, affection and of course their mother’s milk. We can all agree that babies (and indeed all of us) need food, warmth, sleep and love to develop into healthy, functioning humans, so what is happening to change innocent wee babies into the disassociated, narcissistic and destructive adults we see leading our governments and sadly dominating society today? Where are we going wrong?
Incase you are blissfully unaware, the way we are currently living is harming the planet, billions of other beings and of course ourselves. Our current way of life is simply not sustainable so we need to change if we plan to survive as a species.
We need big changes and we need them now, however levels of cognitive dissonance are alarmingly high, so it’s time to look at how we got ourselves into this mess and how we can address it. Desmond Tutu said “There comes a point when we have to stop pulling bodies out of the river and go upstream to see why they are falling in” and so it is, we have to look at where our issues begin if we stand a chance of correcting it and not just saving humanity but billions of lives across all species.
Remember that baby that needs warmth and love and mother’s milk? Just like us, a cow has to have a baby to start producing milk, so what happens in the dairy industry to provide us with milk derived from our bovine friends is that a cow is forcibly impregnated (using devices called rape machines or rape racks, and where anal fisting is a part of the artificial insemination process) and as soon as she has her baby, he or she is taken away so that we can take her milk. If the calf is male, he will most likely be slaughtered as males in the meat, egg and dairy industry aren’t as useful as the females. If she is female she will become part of the slavery of cows in what is one of the most barbaric industries that still exist today. Have a quick watch of the Dairy is Scary video below.
It is this idea that we are better than other species and can therefore kill their babies, take their milk and eat their flesh that teaches our young - right from the start of their lives - that we believe we are superior to others. Instead of respecting animals as sentient beings that deserve to live as much as we do with full lives where they choose who they pair with, have families and live freely, we put them in cages and force the worst suffering on them because they are merely a food source. It is this superiority that forms the basis of ALL discrimination. When we teach our children that it is okay to enslave, slaughter and exploit other beings, we teach them that their own life has more worth than another. This is where discrimination begins. It’s called speciesism. If you’re wondering if speciesism is even a thing, let me just say that without it we would be eating each other and our pets. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself ‘how come I eat this animal yet protect that one?’.
When you grow up thinking your needs trump the needs of others, it doesn’t take long before that sense of superiority extends into racism, misogyny and ableism. Toxic narratives start to support core beliefs like Catholics being better than Protestants. Christians better than Muslims. Men superior to women. Or that refugees don’t deserve a safe haven away from bombs we are supplying the warlords that are destroying their homelands. It’s the same discrimination that means little Jimmy is not welcome to your kids party because he is different. The same discrimination that has you believing you don’t have to bother with these others, let alone consider their plight and what you can do to make the world a better place for them. They simply don’t matter. At least not as much as convenience, or tastebuds or tradition. Internal ableism (and indeed toxic positivity) can look a lot like chasing good vibes and excluding those suffering from trauma or depression.
We are living in a Cult of the Self where we are taught to believe that we matter more than others. Our desires more important than the destruction of the planet. This disconnect to Mother earth is creating a chasm in our collective consciousness that we must remedy with the urgency of a wartime effort because time is running out. We currently live in a society where differences make you less than others; less welcome, less loved, less understood. If we want to live in a fully inclusive society where everyone can feel safe enough to live authentically we have to look at where discrimination begins and stop it.
If we all raised our children to value all life and to choose kindness over convenience and compassion over tradition, we would resolve almost all the issues we face in just one generation. One generation. That’s all it would take! We need a huge cultural shift where we start asking what we could do for our fellow beings and our planet instead of thinking we can arrogantly rule over, or more precisely overrule them and their needs.
I believe that discrimination lies at the heart of this foolish arrogance; yet we are free thinking individuals that should be able to question the way our parents did things ( and often do) so how is it we seem to be stuck in his toxic cycle of dissociation from the true consequences of our actions? Well the answer to this lies in lies. Untruths. The cognitive dissonance that won’t allow us to question what we’re doing because the lies are easier to handle.
If we showed children what really happens to animals in slaughter houses and factory farms very few would choose to carry on as we are. Our bodies are designed to chew and digest nuts and fruit and plants, and when those food sources are scarce, we can survive on meat, but it is surely never intended to be a long term solution. The very fact that meat is carcinogenic to our intestines which are no where near as short as carnivorous species and that a whopping 75% of us are probably lactose intolerant should highlight how animals shouldn’t be used as our main food source. A shocking statistic is that despite over half the land we have here in the UK being used for animal agriculture, we only get 1% of our protein from those animals. How can this possibly be rationalised? We have been brainwashed; bombarded by adverts, pressured by tradition and lied to.
Vast wealthy land owners (and other industries that benefit from our unhealthy choices) don’t want to give up their grossly profitable and harmful industries so millions of pounds or dollars or Yen are spent to cover up the truth. To lie. To tell us all cows eat grass and live in beautiful countryside and keep their babies. That there’s such a thing a happy egg, when all male chicks are macerated live at just a day old because their lives are not useful to us; they are seen as an unwanted byproduct.
For most people, lives have now become so busy working to pay the rent or mortgage, raising families and navigating their way through what is a deeply toxic system, there is no energy, no time and no motivation to change. It’s a merry-go-round of misery where escaping from thoughts that might create upheaval becomes crucial. Addiction takes the place of reflective thought - watching television, drinking alcohol, eating foods that make you unwell, doom scrolling on social media and taking drugs whether prescription or recreational.
We are taught to believe our own personal comfort is all that matters and that life is a competition where winning means stepping over others to get to the top. We are set against each other and I rather suspect this is partly because if we stopped trying to make ends meet and talked to each other without the lies and addictions and brainwashing we would unite and revolt. And the 1% don’t want that. Are we being fooled into thinking ‘rewards’ like partying hard at the weekends, chasing good vibes, the latest gadget, overt consumerism and telling ourselves lie after lie are what constitute happiness?
Has lying become so endemic in our society that the truth is just too unpleasant to face? Distraction, feeding addictions and pretending we are all fine is our undoing yet living a lie has been normalised. But we can fix this!
I’m going to suggest something rather controversial that I will revisit in more depth another time. Could carnism be devolving us as a species by dimming our abilities to empathise? Without empathy, we are far less likely to question our arrogant and discriminatory narratives, however if we start to reframe carnism as a mental health condition that is preventing our evolution then perhaps enough people will be cured to begin a domino affect that saves us and our planet.
I need to add before I explain how and why I think carnism is preventing our evolution that I believe people are inherently good and not monsters! I think traumatised people channel their empathy into what I call socio-empathic behaviour. That is to say that most people have huge amounts of empathy for certain demographics - whether that’s their family, their pets, a partner or a cause like caring for a rescue herd of horses or battered wives yet these very same people can also have zero empathy for others, say perhaps refugees, or people with mental health conditions. A socio-empath could also describe someone who has empathy for almost everyone except a parent, or an ex, as if it’s a mindset that can be switched on or off according to merit and judgement of who is worthy of it. Of course, people living with trauma are far more likely to exhibit narcissistic traits so we should always allow people to heal and become new people that are capable of great compassion.
I am going to ask the more skeptical of you out there that might be listening to this to NOT dismiss potential life-changing truths because of an arrogant refusal to consider it at all. If you have already decided I am talking nonsense, this can only indicate someone who is not ready for my suggestions be true. The ability to ask ‘what if?’ and consider all the possibilities is to master the art of reasoning.
Scientists and anthropologists tell us that despite all our technological advances, we are still functioning with the same brains as our cavemen ancestors. Our ancestors weren't as fortunate as us with our abundant food sources or knowledge on nutrition so our survival then would have depended on occasionally adding the flesh of animals to our diets - for example in winter when foraging nuts, seeds, fruit and leaves wasn’t always possible.
Because the females of our species were generally the carers nurturing our young, female brains developed a considerably larger area given over solely to empathy (roughly the size of your small fingernail) in comparison to males who were generally the hunter gatherers. It benefitted our survival for the part of the brain dedicated to empathy to be either non-existent or the size of a pinhead in those that needed to hunt. It was an evolutionary step in ensuring our survival.
Of course, back then, we weren’t eating meat, eggs or dairy in every meal, so I can’t help but wonder on an evolutionary level what our bodies are making of the fact that we consume so much flesh now. Could it be removing our ability to empathise? What once served us well may now be sucking compassion from us as species. I suspect our bodies are reacting to the volume of flesh consumed as an indication that we are short of the food we should be eating and have gone into survival mode where empathy is not useful. Could it be that the majority of us are devolving because of it? When one considers things like Love Island, Brexit and working class people voting for Tories, you really do have to wonder.
I’m currently reading a book entitled ‘Radical Honesty’ by Brad Blanton and like me, the author believes the only way we can save our species is to start telling the truth. Extinction Rebellion share the same sentiment. Brad also believes that one of the reasons most people struggle with honesty is because most adults never grow out of what he calls ‘spiritual adolescence’ which is a narcissistic and emotionally immature stage of life where only the self matters. Jung presented a similar theory with four stages of life, the first half being primarily concerned with family relations, professional goals and a self aggrandisement in an egocentric attempt to find ‘success’ and the second half leaning more towards a likelihood of the ego receding to allow a larger view on life. Jung held a rather positive view that this can incorporate the vital connection to the personal and collective unconscious but I fear the more pessimistic view that most people never grow out of heir egocentric spiritual adolescence in our modern times. But that is what we are here to change!
We want people to wake up, maybe grow up spiritually so we can present an alternative way of thinking that leads to such an abundance of joy and gratitude, I have started to wonder if those that consume death and suffering on their plates three times a day cannot know the what the joy of a clear conscience feels like. Are the lies we tell ourselves getting in the way of our liberation? I believe that our bodies respond to what we put in it, whether that’s the suffering of an animal that wanted to live, or the words of our forefathers filling our brains with lies. But the wonderful thing is we have a choice on what we consume, absorb and accept.
I hope to look at the science behind the power of vibrations and consider how eating death might be altering those vibrational energies another time but the idea is not a new one. Pythagorus said that “ For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”
To conclude, we need to eradicate the discrimination we have ingrained in us from birth, and tackle the cognitive dissonance surrounding our speciesism. And tell the truth. When we overcome speciesism, I truly believe we will also end racism, ableism and all the unpleasant isms blighting our society. A beautiful, harmonious future is possible; we just have to want it enough to be held accountable for our actions.
When we stop and question what we’re doing and why
we’re doing it; whether that’s repeating destructive generational life patterns or choosing easy options over integrity, we start to evolve. When we start being honest with ourselves, we start expecting others to be honest too.
If you find yourself feeling a little low after the whirlwind of festive celebrations, I hope you start to question why. Did all that expense and stress lead to a sense of peace and goodwill to all men, or will you be secretly relieved when it’s all over? If you want real peace, and real joy in abundance, you have to want realness. Time to get real! Sometimes, the journey to get real feels like falling down the rabbit hole, but it's an incredible journey so I urge all of you ready to face your demons and heal to take that step. And if all that feels too heavy, then just plant some trees like we did last month. Check out the awesome video of the event here:
If you want to know more about radical truth, The Eden Movement or any of the projects I am involved in with Edenkind, check out what we’re up to as a community here www.edenkind.org
Thank you for reading. My gratitude is eternal.