Saturday, October 4, 2014

Second Chances (Eating Meat and Not Wearing a Helmet)

Sometimes we get a second chance. When we do wrong, and realize it, we can respond in a variety of ways. We can say, we made a mistake…we shouldn’t have done that. What that says to me is that we got caught, and being caught, made the action a poor choice. A little better response might be to feel remorse. We say, “I feel terrible for what I did. I am sorry that I hurt you.” But the real growth and forgiveness come when we alter our behavior.

I realize, when eating meat, that I’m contributing to an industry that is using a great deal of resources to produce nutrition that could be derived from other means (see: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-wastes-natural-resources/). Many of us “know” this. I also know that the wholesale slaughter of animals does not make us a peace-loving species. Yet many of us, myself included, pay others to raise and kill animals for food. We may be ignorant of the facts. We may realize that we are doing the wrong thing, but do it anyway because we “enjoy it” or because we believe that we need the protein (see: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php).

Or we can acknowledge that this is all true, and feel sad for the killing of animals and resources, but continue to do so. Perhaps we rationalize our behavior with the argument that it isn’t eating 1/1000 of a cow that hurts the environment, but the mass eating of many animals. (In 2008 in the USA: Cattle: 35,507,500, Pigs: 116,558,900, Chickens: 9,075,261,000, Layer hens: 69,683,000, Broiler chickens: 9,005,578,000, Turkeys: 271,245,000, see: http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Practical/FactoryFarm/USDAnumbers.htm).

Believe it or not, I didn’t mean to write a diatribe about eating animals. I guess this guilty meat eater leaked.

What I wanted to write about is not wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle. We had a wonderful secretary in St. Louis who loved to ride on her motorcycle with her husband. I guess one could call them “bikers.” They had Harleys and cherished them.

They had a serious accident, riding together and having a great time. I can imagine how they loved to feel the breeze across their face and their hair blow in the wind. And they mended fine.

A few years later, still without a helmet, they had an even more serious accident. Now our lovely secretary had to give up her job. She has trouble walking, and says she can’t type anymore.

We sometimes say, “oh, if only I had a second chance.” They did.

I could tell many similar stories of other accidents on motorcycles or bicycles. I scolded a friend the other day for not wearing a helmet. I hope he’ll change him way. He has a good head. “Yes, I have a helmet,” he said, ”it’s at home!”

I made my son wear a helmet when he rode his bike. He refused, so his bike didn't get ridden for over a year.  We never really had much of a discussion about it (that I remember). I was just trying to protect him, and he was worried about his fashion statement (as I remember). I wonder how he remembers it.

When he was in the third or fourth grade we lived in Evanston. a suburb of Chicago. There was a man who walked the streets. He had been a stockbroker until he had a bad bike accident (sans helmet). Now he could only tell his story, trying desperately to get kids to wear their helmet. He’d tell them how he used to be able to think, but now he can only walk the streets and tell kids to wear a helmet.

We’ve arrived when we have changed our actions. I hope it is not too late.

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