We went to see X-men: First Class with a couple of friends last week (excellent movie, by the way) and one line in the movie stood out to me. It’s where Professor X is trying to help Erik harness/control his power and he tells him that true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity.
True focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity.
I think this is so true and couldn’t help apply it to the vegan “movement.” Some people go vegan for health reasons, some for environmental causes, and some for animal welfare. Most of us, I’m willing to bet, chose to switch to a vegan diet due to some degree of concern for each. But what caused us to make such a strict dietary change for life? What made us decide to accept the jokes and jeers and awkward holiday meal conversations, not to mention the amount of research we sometimes to have to put into our vacations or get-togethers with friends at meat-and-potatoes restaurants. I can only speak for myself, of course, but it was partly due to rage.
I was outraged to see what I had never thought of before or had chosen not to think about, and especially what our government lets happen behind closed doors. I was so infuriated and heart-broken after watching the Meet your Meat documentary. Factory farm conditions and workers can be deliberately, disgustingly, monstrously cruel. The conditions we keep the animals in, all for the sake of a few extra dollars, are filthy prisons. But most factory farm workers aren’t treated much better. They’re forced to work in filthy, unsafe working conditions and are denied what most of us consider basic human rights in the work place. Meat production isn’t efficient; it’s polluting our air and wasting our water and energy. Because of these things, and so many more, I was full of rage and sadness. Why do humans so often, when capable of such greatness, choose to do such harm?
But I had to move past the rage, although it’s still inside me. We can’t just sit around being angry or sad at the state of the world. We can’t let these emotions paralyze us, but rather we have to use them as a catalyst. Rather than let them hold us down, we must use these feelings to push us forward. When you make a choice to better yourself and represent positive change, it makes you feel good. Some might say we do these things partly due to selfish reasons, and that may be so to some degree, but if it benefits the greater whole or pushes us all in a better direction, I think we deserve to feel good. In the peaceful, compassionate, good choices we make, we find a bit of serenity in knowing we’re doing our part to make our world a better place for years to come. This balance, between rage and serenity, is where most great change is accomplished.
What angers you? What change would you like to see in the world? Would this change benefit only you or will it also help others? Why haven’t you made the change in your own life yet?