This week I haven't had much time for blogging, or really for thinking at all. Both my kids and one of my dogs are sick, so I have been doing a lot of driving to the vet, the pediatrician, the hospital, the pharmacy, back to the vet, back to the pediatrician....you get the idea.
I did have one evening to myself this week. Thursday was my Holistic Moms Network meeting, and our topic was Holistic Moms' True Confessions. The idea was that we would each share our biggest holistic passion, an area of holistic living that we wanted to learn more about, and our most un-holistic habit that we are unwilling to live without. The group was small, so it was very intimate and informal. Everyone was willing to freely share our "secrets" about the things we do that we aren't particularly proud of, and I thought afterwards what a great discussion this would be to introduce new members to the group. The word "holistic" can often be intimidating. But holistic living means something different to everyone, and we are all on a path where we learn new things along the way that change the way we do things. The more you know about holistic living, the more you know you don't know. There is no such thing as being "holistic enough".
Likewise, I don't think there is any such thing as being "humane enough". The more people I talk to, and the more I learn, the more I see that there are many, many shades of grey for humane parents. Several months ago, there was an online discussion among my classmates at IHE about whether it is a "requirement" for humane educators to be vegan. Most of the participants in the discussion said that it is preferable that humane educators be vegan, and some people were very vehement that it is an absolute necessity. I did not pipe in because I felt intimidated that what I had to say would not seem "humane enough", but I disagree with this perspective.
Living in a farming community, I see how much damage is caused to the land and how many animals such as mice, snakes, and birds are injured and killed by farm machinery. Even the CSA where I belong, which I think represents the epitome of responsible land stewardship, uses tractors which are bound to injure and kill animals. They also use natural pesticides which injure or kill insects and other small animals which damage their crops. This is the reality of farming. If someone who lives in the US and is vegan eats banana from a supermarket, they have no way of knowing if the person who harvested it is paid fairly for his or her labor, and they can be assured that a fair amount of fossil fuels were burned to get it there.
I have come to think that it is naivete and/or hubris that allows many people to believe that their choices represent the only acceptable options. I do not believe that a vegan diet is as "cruelty-free" as many people like to think it is, just as I do not believe that someone must eat a certain way or use certain cleaning products or make certain choices about medical care to be able to consider themselves "holistic". It takes all kinds of people who make all kinds of choices to build a community. The key is respect. Clearly, I think that we should critically examine our choices and educate ourselves to be sure that we are doing the best we can for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our planet. However, I also think that reasonable people can disagree about how exactly we can best fulfill our potential to be agents of change.