Illusion of Greatness


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I am often struck by the degree of arrogance I see in people around me. Of course, I am not immune to these moments of ego trips about myself but I recognize that this should not rule my life. Arrogance is a form of selfishness, it boasts itself as the answer to the emptiness found in some people. It disguises itself as charitable and compassionate as well.

The cause of helping either other animals or human animals is a noble cause but it is not meant to be taken on by boosting one’s ego. Nobility of heart is by essence humility and kindness, not arrogance and ego. I see too much of the latter unfortunately in both human and non-human rights movement.

I am reminded of this great lines by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. 

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.

I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody with a word or song. If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, Then my living will not be in vain. If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, If I can spread the message as the master taught, Then my living will not be in vain.”

These words, although spoken in regards to his work on behalf of humans and with a deep religious faith, are applicable in the context of our work on behalf of other animals, whether we are religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist. They speak of humility and courage. They speak of our own calling to make the world a better place.

There is too much ego in the Vegan/Animal Rights movement. In fact, there is nothing about wanting to save other animals which warrants an ego trip. It is a normal and necessary work we have to do, not a reason to feel like we are special or superior to others. When egos stand in the way, no real progress ever happens. But when it is replaced by a deep desire to put egos aside and do the work we are called for, real progress happens which awakens many sleeping minds around us.

Already, we can see it with a few visionaries like Will Tuttle, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and others, who have the courage of taking a non-judgmental position of compassion and loving kindness towards everyone, including the ones most against us. Their message reaches and transforms a lot of people.

We don’t change minds by brutalizing the minds of others and by being arrogant and self-righteous. We change minds when we own our truth with peace and compassion to all. Then more people want to embrace what we have.

If more of us understood that message, we would deeply transform our planet.

May all hear their calling with humility and truth.

 

Photography by Veronique Perrot

© Copyright May 2014. All Rights Reserved. Printing by authorization only.

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14 Responses to Illusion of Greatness

  1. Hello!
    I think that ego can be found in all walks of life and in all noble causes. I applaud the work of Will and Colleen and look to them for inspiration in all that I do. I am vegan for the little piggies and all their nonhuman animal friends and the work I do is for them. Thank you for shining a light!
    Anne

  2. veganelder says:

    Distinguishing between decrying behaviors versus being non-judgmental toward individuals is a constant struggle. Good post.

  3. Karen says:

    I like your blog, I strongly related to some recent issues I had of dealing with egos. I am an abolitionist vegan and believe that we must press toward the total liberation of all animals, I am also very open minded and mindful and a respecter of all animal rights and welfare movements, even though I may not align myself with their ideas. I respect GF and agree with his principles whole heartedly, but I can not get on board with his stance that animal welfare has to be our enemy. There is evidence to the contrary. Studies and polls support that welfare movements can be a bridge to veganism. . Though that is not my approach, I will rightfully contribute them for their contributions. Speaking on EGOS….What bothers me a great deal is that I find myself feeling attacked by vegans that believe this tenet and wish to push their ideology on me.. Admittedly, the ideologically as it it presented seems logical, but it’s more complicated than that. The “one way” approach is not a smart way to advocate in a world that is so diverse with complicated philosophies and psychologies. If someone holds the position that their theory is the only “one” in which will work and if they are wrong, then billions of animals will suffer, not them. I have to be sure before I jump on any band wagon when so many lives are at stake. I believe this is arrogance/ego in the first degree Looking at the theory that ‘so called’ “humane meat” will only make people comfortable eating animals and people will NOT be likely to take any progressive steps towards veganism, I see flaws. There is STRONG evidence to the contrary. If we apply that same line of reasoning to vegetarians, who also contribute to killing, suffering and the torture of animals, we can see this more clearly. Many meat eaters convert to vegetarianism because they see themselves as compassionate and more humane and want to do their part. Vegetarians still contribute, just on a lesser scale, to the torture, misery, and murder of many animals. Does that mean they are just going to be comfortable with contributing to atrocities on a lesser scale and not make moves towards veganism? Many vegetarians DO convert to veganism and it was our own pathway for many of us. So, (as much as I hate to admit it) the humane meat shift could be a bridge to veganism for many. We can’t let our egos get in our way that we do not look at scientific facts, I think it is very important that we all realize, no matter what our positions are, that there are many ways to advocate and though we may not agree with them all, we should not make any group that is trying to help animals our enemy. We should all keep in mind when advocating that WE don’t have all the answers and that we could be wrong in our assumptions. Some times our egos keep us from seeing thing. Again, great blog.

    • veronique2 says:

      Hello and thank you for good thoughtful comments. I personally strongly align myself with GF and the two people I cited in this blog. I try to not judge people who disagree with my opinion but at the same time I can’t ignore where I stand as far as what I see to be the most effective way to help other animals. The point is for our egos to learn to be humble and just do our work the best way we know how knowing that not everyone can agree with everything.

      Thank you for commenting.

  4. murry cohen says:

    If we are ego involved, we are fighting for ourselves. Period. We can’t do both wholeheartedly. It is rarely all or none. To the extent we are ego involved is the extend to which our effectiveness as advocates is undermined. Look at some of our “leaders”. They started sincerely devoted to the animals, and now have sold out after becoming wealthy, powerful, influential celebrities. More and more of their efforts go to protect these individual ego trips. More and more, they are fighting for themselves, not the animals. I don’t mean to sound judge mental, but veganism SHOULD be a litmus test.

    • veronique2 says:

      Excellently put. I was hoping someone would get the under layer of this blog and point that out. That is exactly what I meant to convey!

      • Murry Cohen says:

        There is egoism and egotism. The former is REQUIRED for activists to have a sense of themselves and their self-worth to be able to oppose the majority, who are animal abusers, and not be intimidated or neutralized. The latter is to do with putting yourself BEFORE the cause. It is a form of narcissism. It’s not using your strengths and convictions to oppose the enemy….it’s using opposition to the enemy to improve, or even obtain your self-esteem. It’s not devoting yourself to the common cause, it’s using the cause to cater to yourself. Ultimately, egotism is self defeating, because, in reality, it is a bottomless pit which can never be filled….because it can never substitute for TRUE self-esteem, but rather will continue looking for gratifications until the only thing that matters to you is you yourself. Then you become a menace….a destructive force….to and against the very thing you thought you were committed to protect and preserve.

      • veronique2 says:

        Yes I knew quite a few of these.

  5. Murry Cohen says:

    Will think of you when I am in Paris in 3 days!!!!

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