Drawing the line

As a vegetarian, one argument I have heard from carnivores over the years is that it’s okay to kill animals for food as these animals, e.g. chickens from chicken farms, would not have come to life if humans weren’t growing them for food. This argument always amuses me. I am tempted to ask if, by the same logic, we can take eggs from women who don’t desire to have kids, fertilize it with leftover sperm (there’s plenty of that in the world…) and “grow” kids which we can then use freely for organ harvesting towards medical purposes? After all, these kids wouldn’t have come into being without such a “farm”; they are “artificially” grown.
Some may cringe at this thought — after all most of us (unfortunately not all of us,) still hold human life as sacred, regardless of how that life sprouts.
Another argument I often hear when vegetarianism is inspected for morals: why stop at animals? Fruits and vegetables may also be alive. What gives a vegetarian, who avoids killing animals for food, the right to slaughter vegetables? True, some moralists on the extreme end of the scale, avoid plunking fruits and vegetables off trees and plants. They will only eat fruits that fell off a tree; a sort of a hypocrisy one may argue, as the fallen apples contain seeds of life, seeds that could have become a tree once implanted in the ground.
Realizing any argument is futile, I stopped preaching for vegetarianism out of moral reasons years ago. It all boils down to where one draws the line.
Some don’t eat steaks but feel comfortable digesting chickens, calling it poultry which makes it sound more like food. Others avoid meat but still eat fish, which they consider, I guess, less deserving.
Here is the thing: we do as we feel and then we find reasons to justify it. The more we do this, the more we get away from ourselves. If you fancy eating animals, eat it but call it for what it is.
I have friends who have no moral issue whatsoever with consuming meat. On their scale, anything less than human and acceptable in Western society as food, can be eaten. They may not eat dogs if raised in the West (an acceptable food in Southeast Asia,) but otherwise have a clearly drawn line. The line may shift over the years. That’s okay. We change. Our understanding and perception changes. We may see a connection between us and the world around us in a way that will bring about a paradigm shift. But for now, do what you feel is right, just no excuses please. You are lying to no one but yourself.


Lance Armstrong, A Hero?

Throughout history, humankind, in real life and myth, created idols. Whether we fashioned them as a source of inspiration or whether, by making our heroes bigger than life, we justify our own mediocrity, is a different question. Nevertheless, we love having stars; the brighter, the better. We simply seem to need heroes.

What happens then when an idol falls out of grace? How does that change our perception?
Let’s stop here for a moment and reflect upon the idea of ‘historical truth’ versus ‘archaeological truth’, an idea discussed by several thinkers and philosophers over the years. Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg (aka Ahad Ha’am,) stated in a century-old essay, titled Moses, that “And so it is when learned scholars burrow in the dust of ancient books and manuscripts, in order to raise the great men of history from the grave in their true shapes ; believing the while that they are sacrificing their eyesight for the sake of ” historical truth.” It is borne in on me that these scholars have a tendency to overestimate the value of their discoveries, and will not appreciate the simple fact that not every archaeological truth is also an historical truth. Historical truth is that, and that alone, which reveals the forces that go to mold the social life of mankind. Every man who leaves a perceptible mark on that life, though he may be a purely imaginary figure, is a real historical force ; his existence is an historical truth. And on the other hand, every man who has left no impress on the general course of life, be his concrete existence at a particular time never so indisputable, is only one of the million : and the truth contained in the statement that such an one existed is a merely literal truth, which makes absolutely no difference, and is therefore, in the historical sense, no truth at all. Goethe’s Werther, for instance, was a pure fiction; but his influence on that generation was so immense as to cause a large number of suicides, and therefore he is, in the historical sense, much more truly a real person than this or that actual German of the same period, who lived an actual concrete life, and died, and was forgotten, and became as though he had never been.” (source: http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/1856-1927-ahad-haam/moses-ala/1-moses-ala.shtml)
Ahad Ha’am, no doubt, felt strongly ‘historical truth’ supersedes any ‘ archaeological truth’. He would have had no place on a committee investigating Lance Armstrong.

Why do some of us care for the facts while others claim to see a bigger picture? We tend to look at fellow humans as driven by reasoning similar to ours, yet, this is not always the case. We are as diverse as any combination of the Eastern Five Elements of Fire, Wood, Earth, Metal and Water. A Metal Element personality is all about facts. The mere hint a historical fact is based on fiction will drive that person into a holly quest after the “real” truth which, according to him, is the archaeological one. A Water Element personality is a dreamer. For him fiction is as solid as reality so long as it has a felt effect on real life. For a Water Element personality the historical truth is all that matter, nothing else. A Wood Element personality is a justice seeker. For him too, as with the Metal type — though for a completely different set of reasons, it is all about the facts and the archaeological truth. A Fire Element personality is a romantic, and as such, much like the Water personality, though again, for different reasons, good fiction carries more weight than boring facts. For the Earth Element personality, it is all about stability. He will choose whatever truth serves maintaining stability better. Most of us are not composed of one single Element type but rather a mix. Yet, for the bulk of people, there is one predominant element which dictates our overall tendency and preferences.

With all this in mind, let’s look at Lance Armstrong. Those of us who like good fiction and need a hero would say, let it go; whether Armstrong used drugs or not, who cares. He has been such an inspiration for so many; let the hero stay a hero regardless of whatever “really” happened.
But Metal and Wood personalities will not give it a rest. For them if Armstrong earned his fame based on false facts, he should be exposed, stripped of his stardom and crashed, regardless of the ramifications to his inspired fans.

Neither party is right or wrong. We have very little choice here; our personality type at current, dictates our world view. A Metal personality would never convince Water that facts carry heavier weight, and vs. verse. Trying would be futile.
As for me, I say just let it be. Rather than dwell on events past, I rather focus on how we can each be a hero. Let’s concentrate on our own self-improvement and create a new and unique space for us to shine, historically or archaeologically.