Friends, like I always say: It’s not my job to question your beliefs. But, on a certain level, I like to think that it is my job to get you to question them. One key area I like to bring under scrutiny is in our various traditions.
Now, I’m all for the concept of traditions because they connect us to our past, enable us to honor those before us and provide occasion for social ritual. All good. However, with every tradition we choose to participate in, I believe there are two fundamental questions that must be asked:
1. Does this tradition still support or reflect the nature of who I am (or we are) today?
If yes, then;
2. Does the traditional way that we celebrate this tradition support or reflect the nature of who we are today?
So let’s take Thanksgiving, for example. For me, I answer “yes” to number one. A special day set aside to count our blessings? Absolutely. But as you might imagine, number two is a different story for me. This idea of gathering around a table with friends and loved ones with a dead bird or a Honeybaked ham in the middle of the table has not resonated with me for some time now, even though I grew up around such a tradition. The notion of a celebration where the actual centerpiece of the tradition represents extreme violence and zero regard for the life of this animal being, seems radically outdated, given where we’re all heading as a more evolved society.
This is why for years now, I’ve gone out of my way to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends in an environment completely devoid of dead animals or their byproducts. In fact, for the past few years, we’ve even had a tradition here in LA where, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we gather over at Animal Acres (farm animal sanctuary) and enjoy an elaborate, Thanksgiving-style vegan meal amongst live turkeys, pigs and other farm animals.
Sound like a bizarre idea? Why? How many folks enjoy their holiday dinners with their dogs or cats nearby? And when you think about, what’s really the difference between companion animals and farm animals…except for how we as a culture have been raised to perceive them? I’m telling you, when you get to know turkeys and these other critters up close and personal, you no longer want to eat them, any more than you would want to eat a poodle.
If you’re interested in any more on the subject, including some delicious Thanksgiving Day meal alternatives, scope this out:
Again, I’m not trying to tell you how to celebrate. You must defer to your own intuition and conscious here, as always. This is all just meant to get the wheels spinning inside your head if they’re not already. And I do realize this can be a very complex situation, given how vested our family members, friends and loved ones can be in the “traditional” aspects of Thanksgiving.