Authenticity vs. Purism

Awesome rabbit pic by Vanessa Sheldon

Infighting in the “animal rights” movement

(Original article publication date:  August 17th, 2012 (Cruelty-Free))

As most of us have, unfortunately, been forced to admit, the animal protection community is rife with infighting.  For some time, I’ve been unable to understand why people who are theoretically working for similar—if not identical—goals would be so openly hostile and defamatory toward others.

Some potential explanations are beginning to surface, though.  For instance, one part of the problem seems to be a struggle between authenticity and purism.


When a person behaves with authenticity, he or she stays in touch with the values that brought him or her to the animal protection cause in the first place. The compassion, empathy, and reasoning that originally connected the person to other animals remains intact and pervades his or her daily actions and interactions with others.

In this place of centeredness, a person’s ego is subordinated to both the outer goal of changing society’s treatment of animals and the inner walk of simply being a living embodiment of these values.  The ego’s desires for beating others, being right, taking credit, gaining adoration, controlling others, and acquiring power are seen as counterproductive with respect to the outer goal and disruptive with respect to the inner walk.


When a person in the animal protection movement fixates on purity itself, the entire focus shifts away from the goal and the walk.  The new focus becomes a game of competing for who can be “more pure” than others in the movement (“I’ve been vegan longer than you,” etc.).

Control and credit are the “rewards” for winning the game, and these rewards may accrue to the benefit of a given individual.  But the movement itself loses, because the goal of societal change gets forgotten in the never-ending power struggle, and the inner walk of being the change is abandoned in favor of self-serving calculations and maneuvers.

Awesome rabbit pic by Vanessa Sheldon
Awesome rabbit pic by Vanessa Sheldon

School violence


(Original article publication date:  June 26th, 2012 (Cruelty-Free))

Normalization of and indoctrination into the culture of violence

Every day at lunchtime, another generation of school children—from small country schools to big city ones—is gradually indoctrinated into a culture of violence.

Not only are school kids served the dead body parts of brutalized cows, pigs, chickens, and others, but these children are taught to be thankful for the products of unmitigated violence.  Truly, no Nazi propagandist could rival the animal-killing industry’s skill.

So long as schools are not vegan, schools will be a primary mechanism through which violence is cultivated and perpetuated in our modern society.



Comment, 2016:  Humane education is the antidote to and the philosophical opposite of the violence-inclusive educational approach that our schools currently embrace.  Eventually, we won’t need to call it “humane education”, though; inethicacy will be regarded as a basic problem of education, just as illiteracy and innumeracy are regarded now.


The “Rage to Master”

The Development of Mastery

Psychologists report that some children have an innate, self-driven desire to learn and know all there is to know about a field.  These children lock onto and pursue a topic with unusual tenacity, pouring hours of unbroken concentration into exploring this topic.  The results of this kind of concentration are not surprising:  a very high competency in the chosen field.

One phrase that is apparently in current usage as a label for this type of drive is the “rage to master.”

Not Just for Kids

While “child prodigies” appear to have attracted the most study so far, the “rage to master” is not something that is unique to children—or child prodigies.  College and law students can also catch fire with an internal desire to know, dominate, master a field.  These students are, of course, great at test preparation.

Finding the “rage to master” within oneself for a topic such as the logical reasoning or reading comprehension that is tested on the LSAT or the contracts, torts, evidence, or other law topics that are tested on the bar exam may require some soul-searching.  But it’s worth going on this journey, because that fire—the rage to master—is an incredibly powerful mechanism for improvement.  More discussion on the rage to master coming soon. .

(Original publication date:  August 23, 2011 (LEX))