The Inconvenience of Compassion…

Convenient: Suited to personal comfort or easy performance.

Inconvenient: Not convenient especially in giving trouble or annoyance.

The word inconvenient has such a bad rap. It’s always being touted around as an excuse for not doing something or another.

We’ve become a lazy nation. How could we not, everything is at our finger tips at all times. Cell phones are no longer just phones, they’re mini computers that can do our banking, run our businesses, and entertain our children. Why go across town to visit a friend you haven’t seen in awhile when you can just do a quick scroll through their facebook posts to catch up. Why teach your child math when there’s a YouTube video that can do it for you? We want what we want when we want it and we usually get it. We are spoiled to pieces, inconveniencing ourselves is sooo yesteryear.

I had dinner with a friend of mine recently. We were discussing veganism and got into a heated discussion about how hard it is for meat eaters to find humanely raised meat. She explained how passionate she is about food politics, she’s read extensively on the subject, she’s watched the undercover investigations, and she wished there was more being done to regulate the horrors of factory farming. She said this as she gobbled down her beef negimaki.

When I pointed out the irony she explained that while she passionately wished factory farming would end, she didn’t have the power to change the system herself and was not willing to give anything up in the meantime. Her appetite still reigned supreme. She explained that there are no farmers’ markets where she lives and even if there were, she would not want to pay more for her meat. Giving up meat all together was not an option.

After I dived further into all the reasons why factory farmed meat is bad for her health, the animals, the world and the environment, she said “I complete agree, you’re preaching to the choir.” But, finding humanely raised locally farmed alternatives was still too inconvenient.

I often have heated food discussions with people but with her it seemed we were totally on the same side; same beliefs, same hopes. The only difference lied in the actions we were willing to take in response to those beliefs. The big ole “inconvenience” was the dividing line that separated us (well, that and the fact that I no longer have any desire to eat animals…).

If even people like my thoroughly educated and passionate friend aren’t willing to inconvenience themselves for their beliefs, then what hope is there for change?

This blog post isn’t about my friend as an individual, whose attitude is far more compassionate than most, it’s about a way of thinking. Someone saying they are passionate about food politics on the one hand but that they won’t make changes that are burdensome on the other was a reflection of just how high the majority of our world values their appetites of convenience. Even people who care about these issues aren’t willing to add an inconvenience to their lives to reflect their beliefs.

Inconvenience is starting to feel like an evil little monster that’s there to prevent us from being the best we can be. It’s like the PR rep for all factory farms. Sneaky little bugger.

So what if we changed the definitions of convenient and inconvenient. How do these defs work for you?

Convenient: Falling prey to greedy corporations that make their low quality junk so accessible your values fly out the window.

Inconvenient: Something that’s so darn essential you take extra steps to achieve it because doing what’s convenient is totally lame.

Works for me! So next time you’re about to do something that doesn’t feel like the right thing to do, but happens to be the most convenient thing to do, ask yourself which definitions of convenient and inconvenient you want to live by. Remember, the best things in life aren’t always easy.

So, how have you compassionately inconvenienced yourself lately?

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20 Responses to The Inconvenience of Compassion…

  1. Alden says:

    Not deliberately picking on your friend because she just happens to be the example but that is the epitome of the “no single snowflake is to blame for the avalanche” philosophy. If she can’t inconvenience herself to give up meat how can she possibly expect a person or group of people to do something much more radical by establishing a “holistic meat source” if there is such a thing, to make it more convenient for her? It’s sheer “anyone but me” ideology…everyone wants things, few are willing to pay for them.

    • lizzy says:

      I hear you, Alden. And I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of that attitude at some point in some area of life. It’s sad because a lot of people I talk to care far less about this issue and happily eat their meat without giving it a second thought. But this conversation with my friend was the first time it really hit me that even if people care, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll change anything. To be honest I’m not sure what the solution is for these people, where their heart seems to be in the right place but their actions aren’t. My wish would be that people learn to challenge themselves more…

      • Alden says:

        I wish for the same. I recently had a discussion with my father, who had been mostly vegetarian for nearly 15 years (he was not an ingredient reader so he ate jello not knowing any better and usually had a turkey on thanksgiving thanks to his company that gave them to each employee in lieu of bonuses) and my step-mother was as well. All this changed when she found out she was allergic to wheat gluten and soy (among a couple of other less significant items). Now, because she does most of the cooking, they have meat at every meal. He agrees with every argument I’ve ever presented for veganism and yet because she cooks and has a rule that if she cooks it, he eats it, he eats meat. As much as I love them both, their diet is the result of laziness and nothing else. We tried to help by finding and gifting cookbooks that specifically focused on veganism and dietary allergy issues but the rebuttal every time is that she doesn’t want to give up the variety in her diet. Knowing that she cheats on her allergies from time to time because “something looks so good” only makes it more frustrating. For every vegan I know that has successfully and happily taken up the challenge I meet dozens of omnivores who see it as too much work and too painful to change.

        At the end of the day, sometimes all I have is the example of my personal life, so I do the best with it that I can.

        • lizzy says:

          I have similar stories with my friends and family. I’ve found that pushing them too hard actually has the opposite effect from what I want, which ends up frustrating me more. So lately I do exactly what you just said, just use my personal life as an example and do my best to learn how to advocate more effectively and patiently. That’s all we can do!

  2. MollyG says:

    I plan on inconveniencing myself for my health. Most people would say that I eat ridiculously healthily, but my body clearly wants more. I will be going on a 21 day cleanse in June to get all the bad out of my system and finally feel the way I know I will be able to and should feel. Veganism was definitely a step in the right direction for my health (though I did it entirely for the health of the animals), but making a commitment to myself to only put good things in, in order to get goodness out is my goal. Certainly not convenient…

    • lizzy says:

      Molly, that’s awesome! You should get Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet, it has a 21 day cleanse in it, unless that’s the one you’re already doing. I always feel like I should be healthier, mainly due to my total disinterest in cooking. So wish I loved the kitchen more. Can’t wait to hear how your cleanse goes! Great way to inconvenience yourself! Maybe I’ll join you 🙂

  3. Genna says:

    If I had a dollar for every time I’d been the frustrated vegan in that conversation, I’d be a wealthy gal.

    And when I say I’m in that choir, I really am doll!!! Great post!!!

    • lizzy says:

      Genna! Ha, so true! Man vegan conversations can get so dicey!! I’ve had FAR worse than this one, but yes, they’re all always pretty frustrating. Not like our vegan conversations! 🙂

  4. The way I see it, people have their conveniences and priorities completely mixed up. People think it’s more convenient to drive to the grocery store every few days to buy their food rather than pick their food straight from their backyard garden. They think it’s more convenient to drive to the doctor, then the pharmacy, and then take a bunch of medicine for the rest of their lives rather than just eating healthy and taking care of their bodies. Simplicity and minimalism has become the inconvenience, but it should be the other way around. Paying a ton of cash and putting up advertisements everywhere in the world isn’t part of minimalism and that’s why it’s not the norm.

    • lizzy says:

      Eva – all SOOOOO freaking true. So well put! Our world is so backwards. I can’t tell you how many times my views towards animals have caused people to call me “extreme”, “fanatical” and worse… Yet my only view is to treat animals with compassion because my appetite is not as important as their suffering. How is that extreme? Yet supporting factory farming by not thinking about where your food comes from is the “norm”. Not a norm I care to be a part of for sure.

      And yup, so ironic how people pop endless pills to “cure” all the problems their food is causing, we are a messed up mixed up brainwashed world! But I have a feeling minimalism will win in the end, even if we have to hit rock bottom to get there…

      • Thanks for your reply, Liz! : ) I’ve gotta agree with you. “extreme” “fanatic” .. heard those, too. I really hope you’re right about simplicity beating out consumerism – I don’t see how it could not!

  5. Lisa Consiglio Ryan says:

    Wow, Liz. What a great post…this happens to me so often. Actually with my hubby. I adore him, but it is the same story when it comes to being a veggie. He just likes the taste of meat, especially chicken, and no matter how many documentaries he watches, he won’t give up eating meat. I point out that even if it is so convenient, to try to have integrity and do the inconvenient thing. This is so hard. I try to let go, but inside, I don’t quite understand it all. Not to pick on your friend, but that ideology thinking gets us stuck.

  6. lizzy says:

    Hey Lisa! I know it’s so hard, I’m not sure why so many people can’t get their actions to match their hearts/knowledge. I guess we all have this problem in some area of life. For me I know I don’t function well when I stay up super late, yet I constantly stay up super late working, knowing it will ruin my next day. That’s a silly example but I can’t seem to get myself to get on a better schedule consistently. But feeling sluggish the next day is something I can live with, it’s not too important to me. Maybe that’s what the difference is, maybe it really just boils down to how much you care about animals or your health or the environment. If you don’t really care enough, no matter how many videos you watch or books you read on the subject it won’t change your behavior. I care about animals to obviously a great extent, so one video or one piece of information is all it takes for me to immediately change my behavior and never look back.

    I don’t know, maybe you really can’t force people to care enough to change their behavior, maybe they either care enough or they don’t. I’m really not sure but if that’s true it’s a bit depressing!

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  9. prem devi says:

    The divine virture of compassion is our natural state, as the blessed animal kingdom awaits our realization. Speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves, in the barbaric abuse of the animal kingdom that God placed in our tender care is deeply needed and deeply blessed. Thank you.

    • Liz says:

      Prem, your words are so beautifully articulated. Thank you for sharing such brilliantly worded sentiments here.

      • prem devi says:

        Many blessings, the same to you dear on in kind respect and gratitude, for speaking for the animal kingdom, who depend on our mercy.

  10. Marisa Herrera says:

    Many people claim to love animals and care for the environment and Nature, yet when it comes to taking action to reflect this “love”, they conveniently disregard the atrocities behind the nonhuman animal flesh and nonhuman animal by-products they consume and demand, and/or the environmental and ecological implications of such unnatural, unhealthy and destructive diet. Many of them have seen videos/photos or read about the heinous cruelty behind factory farming; however, their palates continue to support animal exploitation, torture and murder. And now with the so called “humane” labels, people’s conscious ignorance (consciously ignoring or evading the facts in order to continue their speciesist attitude) is conveniently reinforced to make them feel they care about animals and they’re doing the right thing. How to make people change their views and actions in order to align their so called “love” of animals with the foods they choose to eat, or clothes/shoes/cosmetics/etc. they choose to wear? I don’t know the answer to that. I think people’s interpretation of compassion, ethics, consciousness, integrity are as varied as what “love” means. I’ve also been called a “radical”, “fanatic” and “extremist” and other things exactly for my views and actions on the above words. Interesting how some people are quick to label those of us who oppose and boycott the industries that abuse, exploit, torture and murder the most innocent of beings, the animals. I’m all for changing the definitions of “convenient” and “inconvenient”. I can only hope that one day soon the human race will want to evolve to conscious living and, hence, respect, protect and love Mother Earth and all her amazing and beautiful living beings.

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