Monday, February 05, 2007

Can us old people make a difference?

When I was a youngster (note the old person word for anyone younger than them) I was idealistic. I went on to Uni and became semi militant in my idealism. I've been in Unions, lefty clubs and associations, I've yelled at politicians, I use cloth bags at the supermarket and I dream of a successful boycott of McDonalds.

Ad this all up, and look for the impact I have made on the world. See me? No, neither can anyone else. Billy Bragg said “the revolution is just a T-Shirt away”, but he was wrong. “Wearing badges is not enough in days like these” (Billy said that too).

I was told I’d grow out of my idealism, but I’m 34 now. I’m no longer being oppressed by the man, I could end up being the man. Despite this, I still bite at Right Wing rhetoric. I wax lyrical about the division of church and state. I think Chuck-D should be a US Presidential candidate. I like Hugo Chaves. Che Guevara is not just a cool T-Shirt motif. The Hammer and Cycle means something to me, and for that matter, to my family.

I may work in an office and earn decent money, but the majority of my family work with their hands and I admire them for it. Many of them have been hit by recently introduced labour laws stripping them of their rights, in a few cases their entitlements, and in at least two cases, livelihoods have been lost.

So what can a person do? The badge and T-shirt are not enough. I don’t have the money or profile of a Billy Connolly or a Tim Robbins to do the things they do.

I am careful with water. I use as little electricity as possible in a 24 hour society. I could be getting worse, but I have started worrying about my food. I considered Veganism, but someone suggested Ethical Eating. Conscientious Omnivorousness. It involves reading packets, knowing where your food originates, how it is grown, killed, cultivated, watered etc. It’s almost as much hard work as Veganism, but I think we’ve been eating meat as a race for most of our evolution. It’s the cultivation and method of slaughter that differs now from our pre-industrial roots.

Whilst it is not a typical food, nor method, consider “Foie gras” (French for "fat liver"). It’s the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened by force-feeding, usually with a tube.

The city of Chicago banned the sale of Foie gras in August last year. California has enacted a Safety Code that prohibits the force-feeding of a bird for the purpose of enlarging its liver beyond normal size. It has also banned the sale of products that are a result of this process.

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