“I’m a Vege-a-vegan-a-healthy-a-confused-a-tarian”: On Ethics, Love, and Legalism

This has been a really strange summer for me, I’ve been taking two semesters of a really time-consuming class (general physics), and so I’ve had to put more effort into staying on a schedule in the summer than ever before. This leads me to constantly have to plan meals, when I will make them, and when I will shop for them. It’s a good thing; I feel like a real grown-up because I’m getting way better at cooking for myself and doing it efficiently.

But it’s also been really, really, really, really confusing. I’ve had little time to spend with my friends and family in comparison to previous summers, and I’ve been increasingly noticing an alarming thing in myself. I have a really strong conviction, that was cultivated and honed even more during my year in Cortina, that if I am aware of something bad in the world, it is my obligation and duty to do what is in my power to change that. This led to my becoming a hardcore vegetarian for most of 2013, and since I began that, I still haven’t had a bite of meat. It also led to the strengthening of an already existing disgust with the consumerism that dictates our country and others. Towards the end of this past spring semester, I became increasingly convinced that I should actually just live in this purist monk, raw local vegan, never-buy-another-material-object-I-don’t-absolutely-need-to-survive type of existence, where I spend all of my extra time building friendships with people no one else notices. And to tell you the truth, that is the ultimate destination that I would really like to reach, because I’m gonna make money in the job that I want to do, and I would love to be able to give a high percentage of it to people who need it more than I do, and use my time and abilities to change the world :P. But somehow, in my fervor to become this person, I realized that it was not only causing me to feel insanely guilty about things none of my friends felt the same for doing, but it was also causing me to insanely judge everyone around me. I was unconsciously holding everyone else in the world to the same impossibly high standard I had set for myself. (If you’re a Christian too, this just honestly might sound like the familiar “No one is righteous, not even one” refrain).

After some brutal external processing with one of my close friends who went through Cortina with me, plenty of Bible and book reading, and prayer, I realized that I was acting exactly like the Pharisees that Jesus rebukes, like, every time he sees them. The Pharisees were known for following the law to the tiniest letter and being very “upright” in terms of their to-do lists. They were also known for turning up their noses at everyone else. My THL 100 teacher didn’t spend too much time on the Pharisees, but if you ever read the gospels, they are very hard to ignore. It’s blatantly obvious that they have gotten their priorities completely wrong. Everyone (all the normal sinners Jesus hangs out with) dislikes them. They don’t actually love anyone, and they seem like they do everything out of a despairing sense of guilt. It’s a terrible and immature religion to dedicate one’s life to.

My current confusion stems from needing to know where I should draw the lines in my own life. What guideline should I stick to, at my current level of maturity, so that I am encouraging myself to act lovingly, and not judgmentally out of my own guilt? Does it mean continuing to attempt and fail at being a vegan, or maybe taking a chill pill, eating some butter with my family and friends, and being cool with just not eating meat/fish/poultry for now? Does it mean wearing the same three shirts all week, all month, or does it mean maybe being ok with buying a couple new things to fit the new body that I have from eating veggies instead of chicken fingers? I’m still not sure about these things, but I am certain that it means wholeheartedly loving the people I am already surrounded with before going out and finding new people to “love”. I am certain that it means having a humble heart about the issues that I have been informed on, and not being so caught up in what everyone else is doing, when I have enough to work on in my own life.

Oh Cortina. I’m so excited to have a whole ‘nuther year to be a part of you and become the person I’m designed to be.

Advocacy Alerts

Thanks so much to the Advocacy team in the CCSJ for these reminders.

Sierra Club
No More Deepwater Horizons
Three years ago, the Gulf experienced one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation’s history, when an explosion on BP’s Deep Water Horizon rig left an oil well gushing. The damage from that disaster will be felt in the Gulf region for years to come. But Big Oil hasn’t learned its lesson. Oil companies continue to push for dangerous, devastating drilling projects on our coasts and in our public lands. Last year, Shell Oil had to abandon plans to drill in America’s Arctic when its equipment continually failed. And just this month, an Exxon Mobil pipeline in Arkansas ruptured, releasing 157,000 of gallons of oil into a small community. Tell President Obama that we need to protect our communities, coasts, and public lands from dangerous oil drilling and spills!

Amnesty International
Urge President Obama: No more drones!
You’ve helped convince Congress to hold hearings on the Obama administration’s killer drones. Now take the next step and urge President Obama and Congress to follow Amnesty International’s 5 Point Plan for reforming the U.S. drone strike policy. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the Obama administration’s so-called ‘targeted killing’ program allows for the use of lethal force, including with drones, that violates the right to life under international law.

USCCB
Health Care Conscience Rights Act
The Obama Administration’s contraceptive/abortifacient/sterilization mandate will begin to be enforced against nonprofit religious schools, charities and health care providers on August 1. In the days to come, Congress must decide whether to address this problem through must-pass legislation before that deadline. Members of the House should be urged to include the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940) in the next bill needed to keep the federal government operating. Please send an email asking Congress to protect conscience rights and religious liberty.

Upcoming Events
Omaha Together One Community
On Monday, May 6th at 7pm, OTOC is hosting a Candidates Accountability Night. The event will take place at Pius X Church at 6905 Blondo Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68104. Candidates for Mayor and City Council will be there so that the community can be educated on where each candidate stands on important issues. For more information, go to OTOC’s website.

Film Streams
A Place at the Table runs Friday, May 3 through May 16th at Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater. The film discusses food injustice-specifically food insecurity. Fifty million people in the U.S.—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from, despite the fact that we have the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine this issue through the lens of three people who are struggling with food insecurity. Their stories are interwoven with insights from experts-especially sociologists. A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it can be solved once and for all. Yet, the solution will only come when the American public decides that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all! For more information, or to watch the trailer, click here.

USCCB and Catholic Relief Services
On April 22, from 1-2pm EDT, Catholic Relief Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are hosting an online Catholics Confront Global Poverty discussion called Promoting Human Life and Dignity in the Year of Faith: Why People Migrate. Join the online discussion for an opportunity to hear about the Church’s ongoing work to address the root causes of migration through programs and advocacy efforts that protect life and human dignity. You will also be able to ask questions and engage in dialogue regarding how Catholics in the US, through the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative, can make a difference for our brothers and sisters living in poverty.

THINK: Water, Food, Energy

What does this video point out about the way we compartmentalize our consumption and production? How can we think through and design our systems in a more holistic way? (This is, of course, an advertisement. But, an information heavy one at that). How does this manner of compartmentalization crop up in other systems as well?