In the race to be the ‘most progressive’ person, we are becoming intolerant of others’ choices. When Change happens, it’s important to applaud it rather than berate people for how slow they are!
Recently, while going through my Facebook posts I came across a query from a member in one of the environmentally conscious groups regarding milk. She was happily narrating about how she had switched from buying packaged milk to buying milk from a local vendor, with the intent to reduce her plastic consumption. She had some concerns about the quality of milk and thus decided to reach out to group members for advice, assistance and support.
Following this query there were many comments and I for one thought they were all congratulatory messages from fellow eco-conservationists on her switch from packaged milk. But no, there was message after message about how she could even think of buying and consuming milk! Shaming her about how much carbon footprint she was leaving behind by consuming milk, about how dairy farming is the number one cause of global warming! And how unethical it is to consume milk which is supposed to be for the calf and not humans. It doesn’t stop there…they started posting pictures of dead and dying calves, blaming people who drink milk for this catastrophe as they are denying the calves around the world their share of milk.
Even after repeated requests by the person who posted the query to respect her choice and to stop spamming the post, this harassment didn’t stop. The whole post turned ugly with all this negativity and shaming, blaming and judging. With every vicious comment you could feel the hatred and angst of the person who claimed to be a vegan for the sake of the environment. She also started posting links on how not practicing veganism is killing our planet.
I started wondering how a person who is so conscious of the environment and the cows and everything around her, could be so insensitive towards her fellow human being.
Where, in her sensitivity towards all things, did she lose her capacity to be tolerant towards others?
When did we become incapable of respecting other people’s choices? When did we get so wrapped up in our own high elitist ideals that we couldn’t stop ourselves from forcing our opinions on others?
Yes, we are entitled to our opinions but not at the cost of shaming others. I truly applaud the efforts taken by the said person towards the environment but not everyone is there at the same point in their journeys as hers. While all other faculties of our minds are expanding, the need to empathise with others also needs to expand.
Instead by supporting the person who was taking small baby steps towards being eco-friendly, she could have encouraged her on her small victory and probably that would have motivated her to take her efforts further. But instead all that trolling and bombarding of hate messages would have just discouraged her or anyone who is trying, to want to quit feeling dejected by the whole thing
Thankfully, all this ended positively with the intervention of the group admin, a practicing vegan herself, with her beautifully written note to address the whole issue along with clear and crisp guidelines for the members of the group to adhere to. Not only that, she took it upon herself to apologise on everyone’s behalf for the inconvenience caused to the harassed member. Now this, this is how it’s done.
Here, within a span of a few hours, I witnessed how two people with the same ideologies had handled a situation so differently. It finally boils down to how accepting you are even when you don’t agree with others.
Everyone here is on their own journey of self-discovery, awareness and figuring out what fits their lifestyle, their family and how best they can incorporate changes. Everyone is making conscious changes given the circumstances they live in, resources they have and the amount of awareness and willingness they possess to make that change and take it forward.
It’s not about “do all or do nothing”.
We all know change takes time, lots of it and also, it takes lots of patience, lots of understanding and lots and lots of effort and self-motivation too.
If someone using a minimum of ten plastic bags per week for shopping has consciously reduced to using one, let’s appreciate the thought, not ridicule them for using the one plastic bag. Someone switches to cloth bags, encourage them.
Every small step counts.
More than taking on a moral high ground and resorting to a holier than thou attitude, we need a compassionate, empathetic and kind heart.
I hope we stop judging and extend our support wherever we can. This is not just applicable to the above instance; in any given space, in any sphere of life. Practice tolerance. Practice kindness.
Let’s help build fellowship and community on the grounds of compassion and empathy.
First published at author’s blog.
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A mother of two amazing kids and a teacher by profession, I have varied interests.
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