VI. Expressions in the World: Social Meanings, Social Movements and Identity
How the motives of identity-based change are concealed
To think about the subject of: Veganism. Discussions on this subject usually take the form of how smug or self-righteous vegans are. This is about the extent of the thought given to the matter.
Where this is the case, it is worth noting, particularly when one considers the actual rationales behind an individual’s decision to change how they eat. Examining this disparity more closely, between the reputation of vegans and the reasons for ‘being’ vegan, it is possible to observe something very peculiar to how we think the world. The purpose of this is to show that our default setting of knowing through categorization hides the substantive roots of different ways of living in the world.
This is not an attempt to convince anyone to change their eating habits, I mention the overlooked rationales behind not eating animal products in consideration of a sense of proportion.
What is more significant, in terms of impact, an individual at the table smugly announcing who they are–so you don’t pass them the bacon–or the alleged suffering of billions of animals and the vastly greater toll animal agriculture takes on resources and the environment?
That the topic is one of smugness rather than consequences in suffering and the health of the planet going forward is peculiar, you have to admit. To cap it off, as anyone who has ‘been’ vegan might attest, people are slandered, taunted, written off for “being” vegan to a far greater extent than those who I guess you could say are normal people.
How the dominant pattern of thinking traps us on the surface of the world is in that one: because of the belief that doing something makes you something else, the human capacity to recognize and react to problems is falsely lodged in a type of person: “Welp, I’m not vegan, so pass the ___”. And two: as people unconsciously defend their morality and interests by making that other type of person bad: it distracts from the rationales for different courses of action because people relate to a value (vegans are bad)–as discussions of vegans reveal–rather than the actual reasons for changing one’s habits.
This makes it less likely that we will see consequences of our actions, and more likely that we will be punished if we adjust for them.
Social meanings, are not based on a sense of proportion. The principle of majority, and what is psychologically convenient (vegans are bad), become a truth that seems rather fair and balanced, from a side of it.
This is one small example of a more general phenomenon where motivations other than what is ‘true’ that underlie the things we choose to emphasize. This is an example of unconscious ego/identity-based thought processes and how they position us out of a sense of proportion.
Any disruption to the status-quo that is assigned to the banner of a different type of person will become subject to this process, where the meanings conveniently attached to the category will be used as a distraction, and society will remain asleep at a distance from the rationales it would find uncomfortable.
Such dynamics of social and self-obfuscation are not possible when we cease to shallowly believe that doing/thinking/looking makes you into something else.