• Day 116: Our broken selves.

    Jan 11th
    It looks composed but this is found. A bird lies dead on the shore after eating too much plastic.

    An explosion of colour. It looks composed but this has been found. A bird lies dead on the shore after eating too much plastic. Image by Chris Jordan.

    I love – and hate – this photo.

    I find it both gruesome and strangely beautiful. Those natural whites/greys/browns framing the man-made reds, greens, blues. There is so much contradiction in there.

    At first I thought this was conceptual art but not so.The image is by Chris Jordan and it is from a series of images he has done of bird carcasses that are found washed up with stomachs full of plastic that they have mistaken for food.

    Nothing I have seen seems to so poetically symbolise the broken – conflicted – realationship we have with other beings on this planet. We create a world that they can’t stomach.


    Image by Chris Jordan.

    Thank you

    Thank you all for offering up suggestions about where I should go next.  I’m building up a nice list which I’ll tell you about in the next blog. And thank you too for your words of support. I can’t tell you how much it helps someone who is otherwise an indecisive, doubting dawdler. It means a lot and I can feel the january blues slowly lifting.

    With your help I’m realising more and more what I am doing on this year..or trying to do.

    Bear with me…

    I’m 39 and I’m well-educated. I’m comfortable and I’m healthy and I’m loved. The world should make total sense. And yet …and yet…I feel deeply confused about our connection to all those other animals out there.

    Why?  Martin…either eat animals or don’t but make up your mind.

    Not so easy.


    The wisdom of childhood

    When i was a kid I was much clearer – hurting animals was wrong. Don’t do it. They have eyes, they have fear, they feel pain, duh, what could be more obvious.

    But now, I feel less clear. Oh, for sure, I still have that compassion but I also have a sense there are more important things: the news, the iphone, being busy…or eating delicious meat. Bloody delicious meat. I am burdened by a culture that says ‘actually, of course hurting cute fluffy things is wrong, but its not THAT bad’

    Let me put it this way.  If I lived in a time of deep racism I’d be some ignorant dude with black slaves and I’d probably think it was OK. I might have pangs of guilt about getting them to do shit that I don’t want to do but hey – they’re different so it’s fine. I’d suck up the norm as if it was a cold can of cola on a hot day. Let me guess…you’d be racist too. Oh sorry, no you wouldn’t, sorry, of course not.

    If I – we – lived in a time when they hung people in the main square, or a time when we watched gladiator’s kill each other or a time when witches burned then I’d/we’d take my/our can of cold cola and drink some more. The sugary liquid would wash away that feeling of ‘this is wrong’

    My point is simple and I know you get it.   However smart we are we still do as others tell us, however much we rebel we yearn for the norm. Culture is people agreeing that houses should have pitched roofs, cars should drive on the left eggs go with bacon. I’m always amazed that all those rebellious rockstars wear the same kinds of sunglasses. Pioneers are rare – else they would not be pioneers. They are the nutters who stray from the camp and cut swathes through the jungle where the snakes are. Not me.


    Image by Chris Jordan.

    I am a sheep

    But it occurs to me I shouldn’t feel ashamed of my own desire to follow the crowd. For every one of me there are thousands, millions out there also not strong enough to live their lives according to what their heart knows rather than what their culture tells us. OK, it’s hardly radical to be a vegetarian. It’s hardly radical to believe in animal rights. But it IS radical to believe so deeply in your heart that we are equal with all beings that you live your life accordingly. I can’t do it.

    But I am interested in my own weakness. I want to understand my own inconsistencies. This journey is a path not just towards animals but also into myself.  If I can come to know what is broken in my heart I might just, perhaps, find what is broken out there too.




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    2 Responses to “Day 116: Our broken selves.”

    1. Honesty is vital no matter the subject. People ask me why I don’t eat meat and a friend asked why vegetarian/vegan meat substitutes are shaped in the form of sausages & chunks of fake chicken, a good question! I didn’t give up meat because I disliked the taste, I gave it up because I could no longer be a part of the suffering and death that is necessary for me to enjoy eating it. This is one of my favourite quotes –

      ‘But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh, we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that portion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.’

      ~Plutarch, C.A.D. 46-C

      The reason veggie substitutes are shaped like meat, I guess is so that veggies can still be part of what is considered ‘normal’ which is ridiculous really as there should be nothing normal about killing animals to make them into sausages or lumps of food, however I think veggies are sometimes a bit pushy in the way they share their beliefs and people can be switched off by any hint of being preached at, human beings only change when they have a personal experience which confronts what they can tolerate as truth. I stopped eating meat when I watched a film called ‘Meet your Meat’ and I’m glad I did but the content of the film may not affect others in the way it affected me and we all make choices for our own reasons.

      The birds dying when their stomachs are full up with plastic shows our choices and lifestyles affect those we share the environment with. To reverse the damage we would all have to make somewhat inconvenient choices, we probably should avoid buying the plastic bottle of water even if we’re thirsty on the road, but how many of us deny what we want or need? It’s handy, it’s there on the shelves and we buy it because there’s nothing but plastic bottles in most shops and service stations anyway. Our world is ruled by corporations who don’t want us to change because they are making too much money from remaining unethical and/or uncaring but one day we will have to face these choices because it will not only affect sea birds and other wild species, the devastation of our planet will affect humanity directly and force us to begin the big clean up and that means we will have no other choice but to stop relying on the quick, cheap, easy options that are making us enemies of the natural world.

      Thanks for another thought provoking blog Martin, I’m gradually reading through your year so far.

    2. Good post, Martin.

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