Gary Steel has come to a bitter conclusion about the behaviour of his fellow person
AFTER CAREFUL CONSIDERATION, I’ve come to the conclusion that if the human “race” isn’t quite mad, it’s at the very least the most irrational species on earth.
Please excuse me if you came to the same conclusion sometime last century; I was probably still contemplating the missing models in my matchbox toy collection.
So hear me out. Through our huge repository of literature and more lately, media, we have ceaselessly promoted ourselves as a species capable of not just sensible thinking, but an animal with the ability to deduce great truths, and reduce complex and confusing ideas to solid, logical arguments.
And it’s true that we do have an extraordinary ability to think, assess, and act on our deductions. But do we ever make the logical decisions?
Other animals may lack the on-board power to intellectualise, record facts, collect information and assess a version of the truth based on all of that, but how often do members of the so-called animal kingdom turn on their own, commit homicide, or torture their own species? And how often in our short history, have human beings wielded their power over others for the sheer thrill of making their fellow humans suffer? Well, the answer to that question is pretty self-evident, don’t you think?
But I’m not going to talk about how sadistic we are. Instead, I intend to discuss the way that we end up trapped in belief systems that are self-defeating and, ultimately, not only illogical, but can kill us before our time.
I had coffee the other day with a dear old friend. This old friend isn’t really that old, but he’s on several different medications for high blood pressure. I was curious, so I provoked a bit of a discussion on the subject. I wondered why someone would take pills that had potentially serious side effects, when the impact of radical changes in diet and exercise was known to be positive, transformative, life-changing (in a good way). I suggested that switching to veganism on even a trial basis might be worth a try.
Happily, my friend did not take offense at my suggestion (phew), but he did poo-poo it. His reasoning? Well, he’s already cut back on his meat intake and was making sure to have some salad content, and also, exercise. He reckoned the high blood pressure was caused by stress.
Fair enough, stress is a known killer, and its impact can leach the system of its immune defense, play havoc on the body, and ultimately kill you. And sometimes, stress just happens – you can’t easily step away from being embroiled in a financial crisis or serious family issues.
Having said that, you can take positive action about stress, and incorporate into an exercise routine something that brings about a sense of calm, whether it be music or meditation. I’ve met people who had serious heart problems in their 50s who took up meditation, and are now as fit as a fiddle into their 80s, and that evidence is good enough for me.
But I couldn’t help thinking that there was something else that was faulty about my friend’s reasoning. Even if he’s right that stress was the major cause of his high blood pressure, then surely, a good vegan diet would still be hugely beneficial. Ridding the body of saturated fats, and pumping it full of the complex fuel that comes from mainly fresh produce could still induce a health revolution. And I would be willing to bet that his blood pressure would come down to healthy levels.
This is a great example of the smokescreen that we seem to unknowingly put up when logic presents itself. There’s so much evidence at this point that veganism is a restorative option for struggling and failing body systems that there’s nothing much left to argue about. But my friend is indicative of much of the population when confronted with the facts.
Part of it is sheer disinterest in the subjects of food and health. So many men have tunnel vision about their occupation or passions, that grabbing some food is just something you have to do, not something that you should know or care about. And part of it is the sheer bloody-mindedness that results from fear of the unknown, and especially, from having to give up comfort foods that have been part of the diet since childhood, and therefore, are lodged very deeply in the person’s pleasure centres.
One thing that’s fascinating about animals is that, given the choice, most of them know what they need to eat. [No, I’m not talking about the family mutt, who has been subject to a kind of food training]. I’ve noticed that when my chooks are feeling poorly, or they’re struggling with their season moult, they’re sometimes only interested in high protein food, like insects or certain seeds. I had one very sick bird who would only eat yoghurt, and I’m convinced that somehow, she knew that the probiotics were good for her digestive system. While it’s clearly not natural for chooks to eat yoghurt per se, parrots in certain countries know when, how and where to find and eat clay, which again, apparently has some medicinal properties.
But it seems that humans have lost that connection. We have to learn everything from other humans, and if we don’t get the right information, we’re stuffed. This applies to all facets of life, but of course, more and more, kids are ending up not even knowing what a vegetable is, let alone knowing how to make food with a vegetable, or eat it. And it’s also central to this rant: more and more, it seems, children are entering adulthood without knowing how to think clearly about issues, whether politics or dietary concerns.
If we were taught how to think clearly, logically, we would very quickly focus on the really important issues, and we would find ourselves looking hard at so many aspects of our lives that a small revolution might ensue. And on top of that, climate change deniers would be laughed out of town. GARY STEEL