How being ethical made me hate being ethical.

At some point many years ago I started to ask questions about the food I was eating. Where did it come from? How was it made? What impact did its production have on the environment? The more questions I asked, the more horrible realities I was faced with. Factory farmed poultry and pork, international food miles, pesticides, preservatives, plastic packaging, it became overwhelming, it became life consuming. I was sucked into the ethical black hole. 

I considered much of it an injustice and I wanted nothing to do with it. My approach to deal with this situation in some ways was unconventional. Instead of becoming vegan I took it upon myself to kill the animals I ate, preferring to hunt feral pests for meat. Instead of relying solely on a local farmer's market and certified organic produce I began growing most of my food. I documented the journey online, wrote a few books and caught the eye of the media and a groundswell of people feeling similar vibes. 

This is where my down fall began. 

I was so excited about the process of making change and discovering this new 'ethical' way to approach food that I wanted to share it with as many people as possible hoping to get people thinking about their food choices. Admittedly I overshared online, and I was aware that I had opened the doors for criticism. 

I had it coming in from all sides. When my kids and I killed some feral pigeons to make a delicious pigeon pie, I was told I was a bad parent for doing something so brutal in front of my kids. When I posted photos of the neighbouring farmer spraying pesticides in the paddock next to my veggie garden I was told to toughen up, because it was the reality needed to successfully feed the world's population. Sure, I had plenty of support, but equally I had plenty of negative responses. That's the reality of putting yourself online, especially when sharing a topic covering underlying moral principles. I think the nail in the coffin was when I posted a picture of a cup of peppermint tea I was drinking because I was off booze for a few months to improve my health. I literally had people complaining about the tea. Someone complained that even though it was Nerada organic Peppermint tea that the bags and string are toxic and another person was upset that I didn't grow and dry my own peppermint tea. Fuck. Off. 'Tea-gate' still makes me laugh though. 

Where do people get off on sharing uninvited opinions on social media? What the fuck goes through someone's mind to make them think it's a good idea to comment and say someone else is doing it wrong because they're doing something that doesn't sit neatly into our approach to life. I see plenty of stuff online that I don't agree with, but I don't ever feel obliged to make a comment about my feelings on the matter. Sure, if it's an uninvited dumb Instagram add, that's a different story, that's fair game. But if it's someone I'm willingly following that posts something dumb or something I don't agree with I'll scroll over it and if they do it enough times I'll just unfollow them. It's as easy as that. 

Ok so there'll be people thinking, "harden the fuck up Ro, stop being a sook". Sure thing mate, when you're on the receiving end for about 5-6 years, then come and tell me how it feels. 

It's not just the clashing of ethical criticism that bothered me and turned me away the whole ethical food movement, it's the ethical elite people that are full of annoying opinions and criticism about EVERYTHING. It's all consuming and it's not a healthy way to live. You end up hating the world you live in. 

We once went to a community talk with a discussion panel and one of the people on the panel, in front of an audience told everyone they should quit their jobs and live off the land in a fucking permaculture utopia where we whip arses with bits of reusable cloth, avoid vaccines and school our own kids because the education system is so fucked, even though it somehow manages to turn students into doctors that help save lives, and technicians smart enough to design things like iPhones. Are you kidding me? How fucking out of touch with reality are you? People are struggling to pay bills, mortgage, rent, send kids to school and pay for car registration (insert me). The best bit is a lot of these internet famous permaculture gods are in fact 'Trustafarians' those living off inherited trust fund wealth while complaining about how fucked the world is from the comfort of a no mortgage or minimal bills situation that has been gifted to them, or they  labour for free accomodation and food in return. Some of these people are apparently 'experts' on every-fucking-thing to do with the grown and gathered lifestyle and how to live a perfectly ethical life. They happily complain that you use plastic, yet they drive cars full of plastic and use plastic wheel barrows. It's a social movement riddled with contradictions. I don't care how awesome and 'perfectly ethical' you are, please stop being dis-honest and annoying.

Being part of this movement and seeing the endless contradictions just put me off, I could even feel myself heading down that path. In reality I've only ever wanted to be like Angelo Pellegrini. I see myself as a descendent embracing some Mediterranean roots; a wog that grows, hunts, cooks and loves the simple things in life, all while leading a relatively 'normal' life. I work a desk job as a designer, I tend my food garden, prepare good honest food, hunt and pick free wild food when I want to. I try to make good choices when I purchase things but refuse to obsess over it, nor do I criticise people when they eat food that's out of season. That is their choice. All I can do is lead by example, if people don't vibe on that, I don't really care. The humans as a whole have already royally fucked the health of the planet anyway, there's is no going back no matter how many re-usable compostable shopping bags and electric cars we consume. The best outcome for the planet is for human annihilation, then a few thousand years of no humans to repair and the planet will be right as rain once again. 

I am very happy being a person that makes an honest living. Sure, it's a desk job, it's not my dream but fuck, who lives their dreams? Not many of us are that fortunate. My job puts my kids through school, puts a roof over my family's head, pays for good food, and allows us to have our type of adventures. I have enough time to tend a veggie garden, pay for ammo for my rifles, money to buy the things I can't grow and time to cook good food. That's pretty good in the scheme of things. 

I'm not telling anyone what they should be eating and why. I am done with the ethical elite people and their annoying opinions. I'm fed up with people telling me I should ferment more, use mineral rub deodorant, and grow my own peppermint tea. You have put me off making better choices. For everyone out there, I really don't care what you eat, as long as your happy and healthy, really why should I care? It's not my business. You're an adult, you can make your own mind up. If you're vegan, good for you! That takes serious commitment. Even if you do eat highly processed soy and corn meat substitutes that are full of chemicals and preservatives, good for you. I don't give a shit. Just don't be an annoying prick and hassle me online because our principles don't align. If you do choose ethical, organic or in season, that's also great. Just don't hassle the people that aren't doing what you do. Just be cool. Live and let live. 

Oh, and one last thing. If you do choose to make more ethical choices in life it doesn't mean you have to stop showering, wear hippy clothes, home knitted beanies, excessive amounts of felt and polar-fleece, grow long beards and have hairy legs, you can also make ethical choices wearing high fashion or dressed as a circus clown, it doesn't matter. You're also not required to drive a Subaru Forester or a Prius. Drive whatever you want. Just stop being fucking annoying. No one cares about your ethical opinions and convenient contradictions. Stop sharing them.

To celebrate todays outburst I'm going to bathe in chicken nuggets and rub sugar filled condiments all over my naked body tonight in honour of all the people that also don't give a shit. 

 

 

 

the concept of man

In recent Australian media, there was a story about a right-wing group harassing a street performer in Melbourne. I watched a few clips of the well-known, right-wing hate group leader verbally harassing and intimidating a street performer in front of concerned onlookers. The online social and mainstream media response over the following days was that the perpetrator was a vile representation of the angry white male, so threatened by a world he doesn’t understand or tolerate that he resorts to animalistic aggression supported by a gang of hate filled men rallying behind him. So much hate, surely it can't be healthy. 

In late June Eurydice Dixon was raped and murdered by a man while walking through a park in the evening. The horrible senseless murder shocked the Melbourne community. The norm of the era is to take to social media to share grief, find consolation and meaning. I happened to post something about how the culture of men needs to change, how we need to find respect by teaching our sons at an early age to respect women. A simple ideal. Interestingly though I had some bloke online arguing that it's not a problem with men. He then presented a bunch of arguments that woman could also (potentially have the ability) to hurt men and that there is evidence female on male violence. He's argument was fairly lose and I asked him politely to step back and take stock of the situation (an innocent female had just been raped and murdered) and to examine the bigger picture reality that it is in fact men that cause the majority of the pain against women. There is no government funded public awareness campaign raising the issue of female on male domestic violence. He didn't comply so I had no choice but to block him. I am pretty tolerant but I have no time for male anger that's typically a response to feeling threatened. 

I'm sure most people reading this post have studied some level of history at school. If you didn't pay attention then maybe spend some time and google 'history of war' and sift through well documented battles where millions of humans, both soldiers and civilians have been killed, lives ended, immense pain and suffering for generations. Battles fought over land, pride, religious beliefs, cultural differences, natural resources, fear and political ideologies. Then take time to consider who are our 'great' leaders that took us into battle. Consider how many of those are women. 

One day as a child in primary school I was walking down a side lane on school grounds minding my own business. Three boys my age came up to me, two grabbed an arm each, the third 'Travis' punched me repeatedly in the guts. They left me on the ground winded and crying as they walked off not saying a thing. There was no verbal confrontation, no communication, just violence. 

In early high school the class bully taunted me relentlessly during the first few months of year 7. One day in Italian class he gave me the regular bulling treatment. He spit-balled me from behind, poked me with a ruler and generally hassled me while other male students laughed but did nothing. Something inside me reached breaking point and I somehow managed to grab him and pin him against a wall then I started strangling him with every intention of killing him. The teacher screamed as the bully's face when blue and panic and fear set into his eyes. I was subsequently reprimanded by the headmaster and told to cool down, even though for so long I had been the victim. What surprised me was how violent I could be when provoked. Innate violent behaviour. I am a man. I have been learning to control that anger all my adult life. 

My partner told me to watch a new comedy stage show called 'Nannette' by Hannah Gadsby. I've seen it promoted and recommended many times by females I follow on social media. I've not seen one male promote it. Hannah is an intelligent human, she raises some pretty good points, some very challenging points too. There was a moment in her show where she poked fun at how white males are the worlds problem and how they must be struggling now that that the tide is turning. I actually felt threatened, not by the fact the tide of power and control is turning, but I felt like I had been bundled in with the bad white males. The fact that I felt threatened has bothered me for the last few days. 

A lady recently thanked me on social media for saying something about male on female violence. The sentiment was something along the lines of "thanks for saying something, hopefully things will change". I am sorry, but they won't change. As depressing as the thought is, men have been arseholes throughout history and will continue to be. From school bullies to mass murderers on an international scale. When we face conflict, we should be sitting down at the table and talk through it to reach compromise without battle using things like empathy and compassion instead of resorting to airstrikes and collateral damage. But this will never happen. Putin gets what he wants, Trump does what he wants, men that rape get what they want, men that hate get what they want, men that feel threatened get what they want. The only way our future will change is when men really start to look at themselves and be prepared to make change. Most men feel threatened and challenged by this, like it's some sort of emasculating process. It's not. It's liberating. 

I know I'm not perfect. I have flaws, both as a male and a human. I also know that I'm constantly changing. I value self- evolution. I value being challenged. I want to be a better human. I guess I felt threatened by Hannah's white male jokes because I think I'm an 'ok male' I felt wrongly accused. But Hannah wasn't talking to me. She was talking to the men that don't ask questions of themselves. The men that feel so threatened that they behave like men. 

I'd like to see a better future, one where men are not in power and women are not in power. Where power isn't something we fight and harm each other for. 
Where power is shared so much so that it almost doesn’t mean anything of value anymore. 
Then no one would want it so badly that they'd feel the need to fight for it. On any level, at home or on the battlefield. 

There is no need for men to feel threatened. Nothing is actually being taken away. All we need is to change how we behave and how we think. That is actually achievable. 

I wish the world had more men like Atticus Finch. 

*There will be males that read this that will get annoyed. They may respond by poking fun, attacking and defending. It's the male response. I am guilty of it. I am trying my best to change. 

 

love is dumb

We were driving to school this morning and somehow managed to talk about the Royal wedding, "did you watch it Dad?" my youngest asked me. "Bits and pieces" I replied. "I did like the priest speach bit though, I thought that was pretty good". To that I recieved a puzzled look on her face "that was boring dad! He went on for ages!" "Yeah but it was a nice bit about love" I replied, slightly embarrassed realising that I'm a sentimental old fool for love. 

We left the topic and the girls moved to another discussion while I drove, my thoughts drifting to a deeper place while the car radio shared more stories about humans doing dumb things to other humans. The games of international politics, trade wars, international spy poisonings, nuclear threats, hand grenade attacks in the suburbs, more Palestinians killed; the standard 8am news. Some people say just turn it off, to ignore it and be happier for it. But to disengage is probably the dumbest approach I have ever heard. What? Put your head in the sand and pretend the world of humans isn't fucked? This approach means you're totally happy to just let horrible things happen unbeknownst while living a comfortable life, in a safely bubble where nothing bad could possibly happen and your precious little feelings won't ever get hurt. It's not cool. Firstly, life is full bad things and if you don't know how to cope with them because you chose to hide from them then you'll find yourself in a lot of curry one day, and not a tasty lamb Rogan Josh from Tandori Plaza, I'm talking about bad life curry. You need to be able to deal with life, to face things, to ask questions, to find solutions, to find comfort in reality. 

It's not that being aware of certain events around the world or even in our own neighbourhood will have a great impact in changing anything, but it's important to be aware. It's not like my actions can have any impact to protect protesters in Gaza or stop religious crazies running away to a church to 'pray away' an Ebola infection instead of seeking medical treatment. But I can be aware of the stories, there's no harm in that. Even writing this and posting it online will have zero impact, I know this bunch of words is as useful as 'thoughts and prayers' post yet another American mass shooting. 

When I listened to Bishop Michael Curry's wedding speech I got lost in that beautiful idea he was describing, the imagining of a world where humans let love be the driving force in our actions. It's the same idea John Lennon was fixated on, and what many religious and spiritual leaders have been promoting for millennia. It makes so much sense, it would be a wonderful utopian world, but it just can't happen, ever. Generally speaking, the majority of humans are fucked, have always been and will always be. It's 2018 and we still can't manage to not hate or fear an entire population or group of people because we don't fully understand or allow for them to have a different way of living, thinking, religious preference or skin colour. It goes both ways, but it's always 'us' and 'them' when in reality it's just 'us'. But most of us can't see this and never fully will. 

Through history we've seen periods of human enlightenment where creativity, expression of human thought, spiritual enquiry and devotion to a more peaceful and loving way of living are a cultural driving force. But these eras all fade out in time, eventually only small pockets of dedicated individuals remain. The rise and fall of these movements in history is there for anyone to observe, it's very well documented. There is one underlying and obvious factor that will never allow for humans to get a hold of living better, and that’s us. Being human. We are the problem. 

We are the ones that have ruined the natural balance. We are the ones that have altered the ecosystem to benefit our way of living. We are the ones that continue to choose violence over peace. We are the males that continue to treat females horribly because it appeases our sexual desires, ego or as a place to take out our unmanaged and inexcusable anger. We are the ones that prefer to acquire more wealth, more new things instead of finding balance and restraint or keeping old things going. New, new, more, more when there are already things out there to make us happy enough, second-hand, re-usable, multiple season usage. 

Our systems of government, commerce, media are now so entrenched, so complex, that there is little we can do make the change that's needed for a better world. As individuals, we try. But to what avail?

It does take real restraint and effort to be a decent human. Maybe I think this because in reality I'm a bad person that is making a concerted effort to be a decent person, because it doesn’t come naturally for me to be a good person. Make sense? Maybe for other people they don't have to try so hard. I admit that I have a selfish inner monologue that I have to constantly challenge in order to make better life choices. I'm very flawed. 

But what does being decent do anyway? You can eat ethically but to what impact? I see most people at supermarkets filling trollies with processed shit food they blindly purchase while old Mr Fancy Ethical Pants (me) picks and chooses with thought as best he can. Who gives a shit mate? No one cares that you didn't buy the chicken nuggets. No. One. Cares. 

How much impact do we really have in the big picture? Look around you. Be real. If the option is of comfort, security and wealth, a better deal for the individual then that's the option most people will take because our innate behaviour is to look after ourselves. That's why drivers on the road drive like fucking nimrods, because they're happy in their own world and don't care about other people. There are more people that care about themselves than there are people that are considerate of other people, especially strangers.

Sadly, I believe we are doomed to consume ourselves. Take a look at the most famous celebrity people in the world. Some of them are un-intelligent dickheads but we fuss over them like they're idols. Our world leaders are driven by self-serving goals and egotistical aspirations, not the betterment of the population. This is human history constantly repeating itself like familiar Seinfeld re-runs. 

Sure, sounds pretty negative, but I bet my measly life savings in inadequate superannuation fund that in a few hundred years the human 'civilisation' will be in a real pickle. In the meantime, I'll love the people around me, have as many amazing experiences as I possibly can and as futile as it is, make life choices that reduce my negative impacts where I can and promote the concept of love over hate, even though I accept that behaviour is futile. I am a sentimental old fool, a fool because I acknowledged my behaviour is futile but I still choose that path. 

 

For interests sake, here is a segment of Bishop Curry's speech about stupid love.

Imagine our homes and families when this way of love is the way. Imagine our neighbourhoods and communities when love is the way. Imagine our governments and nations when love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when this love is the way. Imagine this tired old world when love is the way.

No child would go to bed hungry in such a world as that. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a might stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing book.

When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.