We have been taught from birth that there is one Reality for all, that the Reality we live in is universal.
Fact is, that there are so many factors influencing "Reality" that in every moment of our lives, Reality is in fact only OUR reality.
I am a vegan living in a world where, although society as a whole is working hard to modify certain discriminatory behaviours and customs because we have at last come to consider them unjust (sexism, racism, classism, ageism, ableism, religious and sexual preferences, etc), discrimination based on species is not even considered as such, with very few exceptions. And if (almost) nobody considers a behaviour to be discriminatory, (almost) nobody will ever see it as unjust and be willing to work to change it.
Living in a reality where one considers unjust and discriminatory a behaviour that is extended and accepted as "normal" throughout society -hence not considering it unjust and discriminatory- is, in my opinion, the hardest issue to face for a vegan.
According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, we can only interact in a meaningful way with a maximum of 150 people at any point of our existence. This circle of family, close friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances is the most human interaction we can take in, all the rest is irrelevant to us. If we think that there are over 7 billion people on this planet it's easy to see how limited OUR reality is... in reality.
We live our lives amongst people who might or might not share our vision of the world, and the number of these social contacts is limited... to 150, give or take.
We speak and open our hearts to, share our feelings, our thoughts and our experiences with that group of people. We live in a dimension that lies between our actions and the reactions of those 150 people. There, in that quite narrow dimension, the reality -OUR reality- is created.
Come to think of it, 150 is a very small number. OUR reality is reflected in the eyes and reactions of a very limited slice of humanity, and since we are social animals our own behaviour, our own social life, our own actions and reactions, our own experience of life itself are dependent on that. It is part of our human nature to react to other's reaction, it is one of our survival mechanisms, it is so embedded in us that we don't even realize it.
This is the reason why it is so important to surround ourselves with people who feel and think similarly to us.
This is the reason why we feel discomfort when we share our lives with people not akin to us.
This is the reason why, when we are part of a community who shares our feelings, toughs and experiences, we start believing that "reality" is becoming different.
In fact, at that point OUR reality HAS changed.
We are social animals, we need a community not only to thrive, but to survive. Virtual communities can help, though only to an extent. We are organic beings, we need interaction with other people in real-life contexts. On-line communities are a very effective way of bridging physical distance and CAN be helpful especially if our believes are so uncommon within society (only 1% of the world's population is vegan).
But there comes a moment when we need to switch our computer off and go meet up with real-life people. We cannot thrive nor survive on virtual experiences alone, as we cannot thrive nor survive on astronaut food alone. That is only possible for a limited time.
The fact that Reality is only OUR reality is something that we should always keep in mind.
We often tend to forget that the world outside the community we created for ourselves is still the one we left behind, that the Reality we chose not to live in any longer because it did not fit our thoughts, feelings, believes and experiences is still a Reality where beings are discriminated, every moment of the day, only for belonging to a certain specie, and because of this discrimination they are submitted to all kind of exploitation.
The support of a community is vital for us. Once we receive that support we should go back to the Reality -to the community- we left behind, because this is still the Reality of 99% of the rest of the world.
Let us never forget that. Let us use our communities and the support we receive from them to recharge our energies when we need it. But let us never lose sight of the fact that the world has not changed only because we have found a group of people who think, feel, experience something similar to what we do.
Because it has not.
A Mind full of Ideas