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    On defending our actions – even when our principles tell us 'No, no, no...'

    On defending our actions – even when our principles tell us 'No, no, no...'

    My daughter became a vegan at 18 after being a vegetarian for many years like me. She is 21 now and doing her Honours this year. I am rather proud of her as she lives her principals and works so hard for a better world.

    But it did make me think. I only buy free range eggs – not liking to think that I have been the catalyst for hens in tiny cages. But then milk...what about all the little male calves (calves are necessary for the production of milk!) who get taken from the mothers at a few days, kept in tiny separate enclosures for veal or if they are lucky kept alive a bit longer for beef. Aaaarghhhh!

    I don’t preach vegetarianism – my husband and son eat meat. I actually believe that people need to do what they think is right for themselves. Without others judging them.  (Not easy for a bossy first born)

    But now I have to start defending my eating of dairy and eggs to myself. I know perfectly well that I should be a vegan given my convictions. But I so love food with milk and eggs in them! I have spent some time learning to cook and bake tasty vegan food and I make a really yummy vegan ice cream. But being a bit of a foodie at heart giving up milk and eggs means giving up a swathe of recipes...

    Living as a vegetarian I can easily look at the production of meat and what is wrong with it. It gives me no guilty feelings to repress or defend against. But I do find myself defending and repressing feelings about dairy and eggs...

    I suspect I am no different from anyone else.

    So what I am trying to say today is this: When once we are or start to do something (or not do something) or live in a particular way it is really hard to stop – one’s mind is so good at thinking up defences and reasons.

    So once we start to take drugs it is easy to defend why we do it – much easier than stopping. Have you heard smokers defending their habit? Or that second glass of wine that could become a fourth? (If it keeps my arteries open more is better isn’t it?) Or, perhaps a paediatric nurse neglecting to wash your hands after changing one premature babies nappy and going to feed another ‘I get so little money and recognition for my hard work, why should I listen to those stupid rules.’

    Or teachers taking an hour off for tea – ‘no-one cares about my hard life, or my disappointments – after all I dreamed of being a better teacher than my dreadful teacher. And the children and their parents don’t appreciate what we do anyway – the ungrateful lot...’

    Or once I have started smacking my 11 month old baby, why shouldn’t I? Its her fault for being so naughty and anyway it gives her boundaries and I was smacked when I was small and look at me now - after all). The defences around hurting children to punish them are sooo varied and many...

    Or the first time you hit your girlfriend. She made me do it – Its her fault I got angry with her – next time she should listen to me. Or after raping your girlfriend: ‘ She wanted it, the slut, is it my fault girls are such teases, and anyway something that makes me feel so good must be good...’

    So I believe we need to get in early and prevent people from starting bad practises and create environments where good practises make sense and nurture thinking about what one does.

    That is why  we spend so much time training teachers and helping them to think and rethink and to grow and change – at their own pace as much as possible and of course not through force but through their own growth of new convictions and principles

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