I don't know what it is about Singapore, or perhaps the issue lies with me; perhaps my mother was right to say that I have been subtly brainwashed (I prefer the word 'influenced') by John and Raffael. But these days, I get really annoyed when my mom relays to me comments by her friends and my younger cousins, apparently, about vegetarian food. There seems to be this general aversion to it and a misconception of what it actually is. It is grass, my mother said my cousins said. The men in the family will try all ways to avoid it, my mother said her friends said. And then there's my father. The only reason he didn't have meat for dinner a couple of days ago was because we had an opened bottle of red wine and I made some red wine pasta, and since I cooked, it was obviously vegetarian.
I want to be patient, understanding, open-minded; but when have I ever been tolerant of ignorance and close-mindedness? It seems to me that I am bending over backwards to accommodate a practice that I believe is deeply immoral and wrong by being around people who eat meat in my presence, and so there's no reason in my mind why these people cannot forgo their cruel ways for one measly meal every now and then. And so I am appreciative when Mag goes to Original Sin (delicious vegetarian restaurant) with me, or when a guy who's trying to impress me eats vegetarian with me. I also don't see why I should be tolerant of the fundamentally flawed misconceptions that people have of vegetarian and vegan food. Just like 'normal' food, it is only good or bad depending on how it's made, and I find deeply disconcerting and sad, the notion that a meal without meat is by default a not-tasty meal.
Also, it is rather insulting, if I really think about it, the way people do not take seriously enough the seriousness of an ethical belief. They seem to think it's less worthy of respect than a religious one. If you wouldn't consume pork in front of a Muslim, why would you eat meat in front of a vegetarian? Is my ethical belief less worthy of respect because it is non-religious? What makes a religious belief more worthy of respect? It could very well be the case that an ethical belief, being thoroughly thought through, is more deeply held and sincere than a religious one if the latter is merely inherited and absorbed quite unthinkingly. I'm almost sure that, if I started telling people that I'm vegetarian because I'm a devout Buddhist or whatever, people would feel less at liberty to eat meat around me.
In all honesty, out of all the social justice issues that outrage me, our treatment of non-human animals has consistently been the one that I am most passionate about; and the reason my PhD is on constitutional rights and not animal rights is because the latter makes me too emotional. I cannot distance myself from it enough to approach it from a more or less objective standpoint (more or less because we as human beings all have our preconceived ideas and biases). Still, there is a constant that drives these feelings of outrage: the perception that someone is being exploited, that there is some injustice committed by the strong against the weak; and it's always been this outrage in the face of something unjust that has driven me to care about the things that I care about.
I think I have cared a lot less as I age, which is a shame and something that I need to constantly work on. But I still care; and just because I care about non-human animals more doesn't mean that I don't care about humans. It's not an all-or-nothing equation. So my mom needs to stop harping on how some poor humans are suffering in some shitty part of the word when I tell her about our terrible treatment of animals.
Anyway. That was a digression from the point of the entry, which is my birthday. In line with the subject of animals, though, I took a page from John's book and did a birthday fundraising for Animal Lovers League, a no-kill animal shelter in Singapore. I was quite sad to learn this morning that they have been forced by the government to relocate to another part with less space and where they will have to keep the animals in cages. This is because their current premises is being compulsorily acquired by the state, probably so that more houses or whatever can be built (I'm just guessing though). I saw pictures of the new place and it made me really sad; what makes me even sadder is that the League is trying to raise money for the relocation and they're struggling.
I mean, I get that Singapore has a scarcity of land and so I can't quite blame the government for this. But I do not get why the government isn't helping the charity with the relocation costs. Which famous figure was it that said that how civilised a society is is reflected in the way it treats its animals?
Oh, forget it. Thinking about this is making me quite upset. So I will just say that I am appreciative of my friends who donated to the cause and am disappointed but not surprised by how little people seem to care. I chose a bloody animal shelter and not a veganism society or whatever to keep it as ideologically neutral as possible, and I thought people in general have a soft spot for dogs and cats.
Apparently not. While I have exceeded my (very modest) S$600 target, this was really due to the generosity of the people who donated. (I mean, why 'like' my Facebook post if you're not going to give money? Are we to survive on Facebook likes now?) I was expecting people to give 10 or 20 bucks, but the median amount given was 50. I gave 100 and my mom gave another 100, and Jolie gave 80 which was very nice of her.
And of course, so unsurprising too, guess who swooped in to save the day when I hinted at about 10pm that he should help my fundraiser and donated the remaining amount of $184?
He was also the first to wish me happy birthday at 12.03am, therefore breaking the silence for the past week or so.
He is my double-edged sword. Always has been. Probably, but I hope not, always will be.