The Daily Stoic for July 17th. “Don’t Abandon Others… Or Yourself”.
“As you move forward along the path of reason, people will stand in your way. They will never be able to keep you from doing what’s sound, so don’t let them knock out your goodwill for them. Keep a steady watch on both fronts, not only for well-based judgments and actions, but also for gentleness with those who would obstruct our path or create other difficulties. For getting angry is also a weakness, just as much as abandoning the task or surrendering under panic. For doing either is an equal desertion—the one by shrinking back and the other by estrangement from family and friend.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 11.9
I have mixed feelings about the vegan community. In my twenties, I was a vegetarian for about 6 years, for pure ethical and philosophical reasons, nothing related to health or diet. I didn’t want to hurt animals back then. So even as a “non-genuine” member of the vegetarian community -I ate eggs and drank milk – I can relate to the philosophy behind it.
Did You Start Loving Animals But Stopped Loving People?
However, I don’t like what I read from the vegan community these days on blogs or social media. Some time ago, a guy I followed, otherwise a reasonable person, wrote a disgusting post in which he mocked “cocky meat-eating guys” who “eat so much meat they get cancer and then need to have one of their testicles removed” (literal), asking “where is their manhood now?”.
Another person I follow and actually respect a lot, mentioned the other day how he stopped “eating corpses“. He may not notice it, but that is certainly disrespectful to us, “corpse-eaters”.
All my respect to vegans, of course (well, except the first guy probably). They stand for what they believe in… But you don’t need to disqualify others or pose yourself as a “superior human being” when doing so.
When I was a vegetarian, I never, ever, ever questioned any of my friends for “eating corpses”. Even though I firmly believed that eating animals was wrong, I didn’t feel superior to them or tried to show them “how wrong they were”.
On the contrary, I appreciated that, when we went out to restaurants, they were always kind and considerate to look for a place where I could order something. At the turn of the millennium, vegetarian restaurants were still to become a thing in Spain. So I can only imagine I was a pain in the ass for them back then… but they never complained. I’ll always remember that with a smile on my face.
Don’t Abandon Others… Or Yourself
So I really agree with today’s stoic excerpt. Sometimes, for one reason or another, we take a different path in our lives. Maybe we “evolve”, from our point of view. Perhaps it’s a real evolution that makes us better.
I eat meat nowadays, but I acknowledge that perhaps in the future we’ll all become vegans… so yes, maybe I am the barbarian old-man.
What I do believe is that we need to be humble when our paths diverge from our old friends or family… Or the rest of mankind. That happened to me when I started traveling the world and became an entrepreneur. Many of my friends -and even family- didn’t understand the decisions I made. In a way… I feel like these decisions made me evolve personally.
And even while I can’t relate to the world they live in anymore as I did before… I didn’t abandon them. Our paths may be different now, but I will always remember where I came from. As today’s stoic excerpt says, “After all, they’re at the same place you were not long ago.”
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Don’t Abandon Others… Or Yourself” is, in my view, a plea on humility. Even when we evolve, we should never consider ourselves to the people we “left behind”.