Saturday, November 13, 2010
The value of graciousness
in his recent (today, Saturday) blog posting calls Gary Francione an extremist
I think this headline hurts the cause. The issue is how one leader's personality works against the growth and gradual development in the general public's minds - on their own terms - of pro-vegan (and animal-friendly) personal and social values.
Attacking someone who isn't quite 'there' yet (even when he tries heroically) is IMHO not in the interest of the goals we're trying to seek, nor even in the spirit of the argument that is made here.
Gary is not a fascist; he is a law school professor who may not really listen very well. He instinctively wants the bully pulpit all the time, but he's a good-hearted man with a curious sense of humor (that I oddly enjoy in a Homer-Simpson-like way).
Let me share a Francionism:
"Folks often ask me, and surely they ask all of you, too, 'What do you eat as a vegan?'. For me it's very simple. Black coffee and cigarettes."
Now, I think that's all pretty awful and it perpetuates the socially endogenous image of the animal rights advocate as someone doing potentially wise things poorly in order to 'do it for the animals' in a self-sacrificing (and thus self-destructive') way that is both unwise and unhealthful.
But I think that our community is larger than our problems. I've watched Prof. Francione mature amazingly well during this past decade, and I cheer him on.
Newcomers are tempted to make cult figures out of any of us who are 'out there' in a public, effective, productive, diligent way. As Patrick Battuello argues, the 'movement' (which once was not a movement, but now is, I would argue) is not any one person, group, or perspective, but the deeper, broader theme, so that any of us can defer or back away from any of the tangential, side issues that are often co-packaged with vegan advocacy (and there ARE a multitude of confusing side 'social issues' which COULD be fundamental to any one vegan's personal veganism, multiplied by however millions of other vegans feel that way, but which may not always be inherent in every OTHER individual's 'personal veganism' (and thus, not inherent in 'veganism' itself.
I've been attending Friday evening contemplative evenings with vegan buffets and meditative talks long enough to appreciate the value of graciousness in the lives of vegans and vegetarians. Let us cultivate a spirit of generosity.
As Gary Francione himself has been noted saying of late: