the practice of moralizing, especially the tendency to make judgements about others’ morality.
In Portugal we had this old “way of speech” that we quoted, especially in our parents’/grandparents’ generations, when confronted with something new or different: “I have nothing against it as long as…” .Then they enumerated the reasons why they felt good or bad about it. Maybe it’s a saying in many other countries as well.
My grandmother was a very beautiful lady. She widowed very soon, my grandfather whom I never met, died of stomach cancer when she was on her late thirties, early forties. To the best of all family’s knowledge, she never met another man. In fact, she hated men to “cross the line”.So many have tried. I remember once we were doing the boat crossing between Lisbon and the South bank for a beach weekend, when a respectable gentleman came to say hi and chat a bit with us and of course with my grandma. She hated it from the start but she played polite for a while. Until he said he was a vegetarian. Then she rapidly picked us up and changed places immediately and never looked back.
Portugal came a long way when it comes to integration. I travel everywhere and I rarely see communities being as well integrated as they are here. I am not naive, society it’s never easy but the racial problems in Portugal are residual. All in all cultures residing here respect and participate in each other’s lives and especially in Lisbon, capitol city, many of the City Hall policies are tailor made to involve communities and have them interacting with each other on a day to day basis. All in all, it’s a success, in spite of a troublesome decolonisation in the late Seventies. Like I said, Portugal came a long way and grandmas don’t run away from vegetarians anymore.
I mention this because I am proud of these advances as a Portuguese citizen. The time when our producer Waldemar (Sorychta, Wolfheart, Irreligious, Sin, Memorial) had to eat omelettes every day is gone and the choice in Portugal for vegetarians and vegans has improved tenfold even to the creation of a social conscience. My kid’s last kindergarten had vegan options, for example.
On the contrary, sometimes I feel like picking up the old sentence “as long as” because many people who made the right choice of not eating animals or animal related products, are starting to look upon us, poor omnivores, as something of a lesser breed, condemned to repeat the evil our parents did. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of my friends are vegan and I know they have made the right choice, at all levels: ecological, political, social. But a lot of them are missing the essential point here: accepting others’ choices. People keep forgetting where they just came from and had to face just recently: people’s ignorance or lack of preparation. As long as this not so silent anymore rejection of the old ways goes, it’s certain that we all must embrace the future. But one can’t forget how the present still holds us and that true revolutions are slow but sure. If you feel bad or frustrated, just look back ten years and you will see the long way that was already traveled without anyone robbing or mocking Vegans and Vegetarians’ virtuous path. Or check your phone for the latest app that tells you where to go and eat.
What I am talking about and requesting is an exercise of patient. Many people, myself included, can’t grasp (for now) all the little back and forths from going Vegan. When I offer red wine, I’m sorry if I don’t check if it’s vegan or not. It’s a new concept for me but I see it gained his ground, from all omelettes or bread, bread, bread to Vegan wine served on a vegan goblet or my vegan leather vests.
The last week, though, I made the capitol sin of writing back to a person who came to my artist page on FB just to judge and parade around his religious and moral superiority. The object of his anger was me wearing a pentagram. After all, says he, I am a good man so I shouldn’t wear this. I have to be honest here: I have a BIG problem with people moralising me. Always had. Make no mistake, to critic our music or posture is different. I can for sure live with it. But when the finger is so arrogantly pointed, I am sorry, I want to bite it off! My mistake was to try and run a discussion based upon available knowledge and reasoning. I have failed because I forgot this is not what moves people. Not the will to learn, to debate, to progress. But indeed a stubbornness, a closed-mindless, that is scary to contemplate in the age of touch screens and neurology advances. In a nutshell, this individual thought (and thinks) himself morally superior to me and he thinks he is truly in a possession of a secret that by praying for me will save me and hopefully all my stupid kind.
Goes without saying how this fellow got on my nerves. I should have told him it’s none of his fucking business what I wear but I am not that kind of person, as you can easily read here. I believe in discussion even for the sake of argument. It’s the way things get fixed in the world instead of throwing bombs at cities or stabbing knives in neighbours. Alternative cultures and classic ones might start having this dangerous liaison, this common point: intolerance to others and a missionary spirit to eradicate the evil ways. We all knew where moralism has taken us and if one shuts up before it, I believe we are entering a dangerous road.
The 21st century has all the conditions to enlarge and expand our views about difference as long as the ones who practise that difference, the new “different”, that walk that “righteous path” do not start tainting it with the shadows of old. Felling better than others because of what you eat, what you wear (or don’t), what you believe in (or don’t), removes all sense out of the very tentative of doing something right (whatever that is). Fortunately not all of us are sleeping the sleep of reason and we are to remember that humanity does suck, it doesn’t matter if you eat an whole cow or a big chunk of tofu. If inside you feel better than others, than just good with yourself and not about yourself, well I am sorry to say, even if I don’t hold the truth like the new virtuous do, you are getting it all wrong!!! I don’t say we walk hand in hand but you can loose that grip around our neck, we are all in the same sinking boat.
― Immanuel Kant