Since I'm off today, and catching up my blog, I wanted to share something I've been noodling about for days.
A few days ago, Missy, my sister-in-law, and my not-sure-what-you-call-your-great-nephew's-other-grandmother-from-Japan went out for lunch to restaurant on a pier off Anna Maria Island.
The restaurant is several hundred yards off the shore, right at the end of the pier, surrounded by water. It's really nice. As you eat you get to watch the ocean, where sometimes dolphins and sharks pop up out of the water. (Yes, some dolphins did, it was awesome. No, no sharks did. Wrong time of day for it.)
You also get a window seat to view people fishing.
We saw a man and a boy fishing together, right in front of us. The man hooked a fish, reeled it in, cut the line, and dropped it to the pier. This is where my contemplation on cruelty comes from.
The fish lay there, flopping about, struggling, asphyxiating, and slowly dying. The man didn't care. It was nothing to him. At one point, it went flopping away down the pier, and he rushed to catch it, and bring it back. Then he threw it down on the deck, and stood on it, while he kept fishing.
I was horrified.
I didn't say anything to Missy, but she could see the look on my face. We talked about it some. Let me be clear on some things: I'm an omnivore. I eat fish, and chicken, and beef. I don't think it's wrong or immoral to be an omnivore.
I did do some furious googling to see if I could find any scientific research on whether fish feel pain. (There are conflicting opinions about this.) I did ever so briefly flirt with the idea of becoming a vegetarian (as I have been previously). I ate my mahi-mahi sandwich, we had a lovely time, and eventually left.
But it got me thinking. What was it that really bothered me about the whole thing. It was the cruelty. I think I would have preferred it if the fisherman had put the fish into a cooler filled with water, or perhaps (gruesome as this sounds) slammed it against the side of the pier, to end its life quickly, instead of just letting it lay there, dying slowly.
I don't like cruelty. I don't want to practice it, nor do I want to be around it.
I'm not talking about cruelty as its used in d/s relationships. That's a different thing. Two or more consenting parties agree to enjoy some gourmet suffering.
But the garden variety cause-suffering-in-others-and-not-care-about-it kind is a no-no for me. I want as little to do with it as possible. I don't want to cause it, I don't want to participate in it.
It's why recently I've stopped following a lot of politically minded folks on social media, why I don't lend my voice to anger and rhetoric. Certainly I have political opinions, everyone does. I'll vote. That's enough for me.
I'm not interested in being a political combatant on social media. I've seen that same thing make a lot of people I know very upset. I've watched close friends make each other feel like complete shit over their disagreements on an issue. Yuck.
It's not just political stuff on my mind, either.
I found out through someone close recently that an acquaintance of mine thinks I'm an asshole. Said acquaintance isn't someone I see often. I can count on one hand the number of times we've been in the same place at the same time over the past few years.
After finding out why he doesn't like me, I can even see it. I get his side of the story. He didn't like a choice I made a while back, that indirectly impacted him. I didn't mean to make him feel slighted, or put out. I was just making my own best choice at the time, a choice I still stand behind. Sometimes, you make choices that make people unhappy.
For me, It's really no big deal at all.
Not so much for this guy. Years later, he's got his shorts in a bunch over it. When I first found this out, I was angry for maybe 5 seconds. I know I'm going to see this guy again. I got to thinking about what, if anything I would say or do about my knowledge that he dislikes me.
I think the answer, for me, is to do nothing at all.
What interests me about all this stuff is the relationship between them. Sometimes, we're cruel to other people (or animals) without even being aware of it. Clearly, I've been.
It's on my radar, part of my practice, to be gentle, to be kind, as much as I can to anyone and everyone.