Ethics / Everything / Our Stories

My Enemy: A Love Story

Every night, I share a bed — and even snuggle up closely — with my enemy. I set aside time to observe my enemies’ outdated traditions during holidays. I share deep and authentic emotional exchanges with them. I consider them my kin, my friends, my loved ones; and yet, they are vehemently my rivals. How can this be?

Alas, I was never trained in the tactics of an undercover agent. I’m not an expert at effectively infiltrating the lives of those who fervently oppose everything I stand for. But that is the task at hand. They (who’s they!?) say you shouldn’t try to change the ones you love. But there is something about my loved ones that I very much wish I could change. Indeed, I try incessantly to help them make that change of their own accord.

They are my enemies, you see, because they are not vegan. Our relationships are compromised by the fact that animal products still permeate their daily lives. I suppose I don’t want to change them, per se, only to help them be their true selves, to live according to their own values — values which I know they share, because it’s why I love them!

I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.  —Steve Maraboli

As you might expect, it’s quite challenging.

It’s awkward, being the one at the table whose presence alone makes everyone uncomfortable about what they’re eating. (Despite that Iwant them to be uncomfortable about that decision.)

It’s draining, to take everything that’s left within me to not call out the injustice I see on their plates, in their fashion, or as part of their entertainment.

It’s frustrating, knowing that my loved ones are not bad individuals who don’t care about suffering; rather, that they are complicit with their limited awareness and they are unwilling to hear the truth regarding animal exploitation.

And it’s trying, to remain non-aggressive and strive to be a model for living compassionately as a means for getting the point across…but no matter the approach, everyone puts up a wall.

Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.

My chest becomes an echo chamber — I feel as though I am shouting from my core, “Open your eyes! See the consequences of your actions! Do something! Please!” But the vibrations wear down only on my  own heart.

black-and-white-person-woman-girl

I am saddened, disheartened, and downtrodden. What I see on their plates is not food, but symbols of cruelty, exploitation, violence, and murder. It’s offensive, but I have to act casually complacent lest I want to become that vegan. But even when I look away, the stench permeates the room. Oh, if I could change just one thing about this world . . .

How can I avoid feeling “holier than thou” now that I’ve detached myself from the violence and oppression they cling to? How can I not judge? In what ways am I expected to relate when it’s been over a decade since I’ve recognized such cruelty and in all that time I’ve tried to spread my message yet so few are even willing to open their hearts to understand? Who has that patience?

How can I stay quite when I know with all my heart that something is wrong — and not only do I know this, but my loved ones do or would agree if they’d only be receptive to change!! It’s the Twilight Zone, the Matrix, an alternate reality that makes no sense to me.

If I could get just one point across, it would be this: We need not compromise our values to enjoy life. No one deserves to suffer so that we can live our lives fully. Indeed, we can remove animal products from our diets, our accessories, our entertainment and we can live happy, healthy, and satisfying lives just the same.

We are expected to be patient and understanding; we’re expected to remain strong. Every now and then, however, I crumble and I weep. I know not what to do.

For now, this story remains a tragedy.


I’d love to hear from you!

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5 thoughts on “My Enemy: A Love Story

  1. Firstly, I feel extremely overjoyed to have an extended family and group of friends who are passionate vegans. So thank you.

    Secondly, thank you for this wonderfully written piece. Because even with the amazing amount of support that I have, there are still so many dear people in my life who are fully aware of the benefits to a vegan lifestyle (compassion, health, environment, etc.) and they still make the choice to eat animals… ?!?!?

    Typically, when veganism come up in conversation, it turns into an argument or more so, into a weird stream of confusing justifications. And I’m not good with confrontation, so I usually just listen to their excuses with minimal interruptions, which probably makes them feel okay in their thinking… but here is the thing:

    I don’t want my lifestyle choices (even though it is the thing I am most passionate about, the way I love to identify, the thing that gives me so much gratification and happiness) to be what gets in the way of my wonderful relationships with my family and friends. But it sucks. It totally sucks. And I really don’t know how to fix it other than continue to lead by example.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very challenging! But it’s rarely worth it to get into battles. I have been effective lately, now that I’ve finally step back. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence that now I’m not so vocal with my family they are all open to the idea. Who knows, but I am excited to see how it plays out in the coming months with a handful of people recently coming to me to ask for vegan tips 🙂

      Like

  2. Oh man. This really spoke to me. Everyone in my life eats animals. Most times I love and cherish the way the deserve, but there are times in which I stop seeing them as my loved ones and start seeing them as enemies – the ones that are causing so much pain and suffering in animals.

    Like

  3. Pingback: 2016 In Review | Crunchy. Vegan.

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