Why I believe animals deserve a higher place in modern society

This is a subject that usually causes a riot when discussed. A lot of people are against this idea, because it’s their believe that animals don’t have feelings and are put on this earth for humans to dominate and use them and to rule over their lives. Most humans believe they are at the top of the food chain.

However, there are also those who do believe in this statement. I’m one of those people and I strongly believe animals should have a higher place in modern society.

First of all, I don’t believe people even have a higher place in society than animals. We’re an arrogant specie, entitling ourselves to be superior over other species and dumbing animals down, claiming they don’t have feelings and are worthless to society, other than providing food and needs for humans. I always wonder why humans believe they are at the top of the food chain. We’re not faster or stronger than a great deal of animals. Yes, we humans have a great deal of intelligence at our disposal. But then again we’re also the only species who are bent on killing the very planet that sustains all life. Intelligence is relative.

Also, animals don’t have a voice to speak up for themselves, so I believe humans should do that for them. Do I think animals should rule human society? No, I don’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to kill, abuse, starve, torture and slaughter other living creatures. It’s illegal to kill another human being, but somehow it’s okay to kill and harm animals, as if that’s any less worse. It’s an illusion that our treatment of animals has no moral significance.

Finally, animals are not ours, animals are not things. They are living creatures, just like humans. Animals actually do have feelings. By not responding on the torture that’s going on, we actually do respond. We are equally responsible for what we don’t do. To me, it’s not about if animals can reason or talk, but about the question “Can they suffer?”.

I want to believe in Leonardo da Vinci’s wish: that one day the time will come when men will look upon the murder and harm of animals as they now look upon the murder of men. And if slaughterhouses and factory farms would have glass walls, would you still be able to look an animal in the eyes and say you can’t see the pain we humans are causing? Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.

Couch potatoes, zombies and sore calves

For a while now, I’ve been trying my best to get myself to a healthier lifestyle. Changing the things I eat has been hard (but worth it!), but starting to exercise has been even harder! Fact is, I don’t like exercise. I don’t like to get all sweaty and warm with my heart pounding out of my chest. But change doesn’t happens when you stay in your comfort zone, so I’ve started running.

First thing I tried was the running program ‘Start to run’ (it’s a Dutch program). It was okay, but I didn’t like the fact that you can’t pick your own music. After that, I went on to ‘Zombies, run!’ which is great fun (you’re being chased by zombies, I mean, what’s not to like, right?!), but I don’t like how little you run and the exercises that are combined with the running program are not my thing. So on I went to something I’ve been hearing a lot of lately; Couch to 5K. I’ve downloaded the app, put in on my iPod Touch and gave it a spin! Yesterday I’ve finished my first round and I must say that I’m very pleased with myself at the moment. It was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be, there was a decent amount of running to be done and I like the fact that you can pick out a drill sergeant to motivate you (you can also go for some of the other motivational speakers if you don’t like a man shouting ‘RUN!’ in your ears). The goal is to be able to run 5K in 9 weeks by training 3 times a week.

IMG_0033

The shoes I’m running in are the Vibram Five Fingers. I’ve been writing about those before (The minimalistic shoe) and I even love them more than I did back then. Obviously, I was expecting a bit of muscle aching the day after my run, since it was my first run since a long time. And not only that. I’ve also changed from my regular running method (landing with the heel of my foot) to running with the Chi method (which uses, among other things (for more information I recommend searching online for ‘Chi running’) a midfoot strike instead of a heel strike).

First time run + Vibram Five Fingers + Chi running = Not being able to walk down the stairs the next morning. My calves are stiff and when walking a little bit too enthusiastic (read: Walking in any other way than gliding over the floor like I’m an ice skater) my body goes into protest and I look like freaking Gollum (can we all say “My Precious”?). But I’m pretty sure it will all be worth it when in 9 weeks, I’m running my first 5K ever!

Here are some tips for when you first start running:

Health

  • Always do a warming up before you start running and a cooling down after. This prevents injuries. When using a running program (like ‘Zombies, Run!’ or ‘Couch to 5K’) it usually features a warming up you can use.
  • Have a resting day in between your runs to let your body heal.
  • Start slowly. Don’t over-do it, it might do more harm than good to your body.
  • Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel good and you’re really worried, check with your physician.
  • Sore, tired muscles are normal; bone, joint, or soft-tissue pain is a sign of injury Contact your doctor to get it checked out.

Running gear

  • Make sure you have some good running shoes. They might be a bit pricy, but they’ll be worth it. Good running shoes will help you prevent injuries and make your runs more enjoyable.
  • You don’t have to spend a small fortune on running clothing. Most big clothing stores (like H&M) sell sport clothing for a very reasonable price.
  • Make sure that the clothing and shoes you’re wearing fit comfortably without anything chafing against your skin.

Awareness 

  • Always carry your address and other important information with you in case of an emergency.
  • Always make sure someone knows you’re out running, especially if you live in a remote area.
  • If you feel unsafe while running, get out! Turn around and go home, if you carry a cell phone with you call someone or if there’s a diner or anything nearby go there and call someone to pick you up.

Disclaimer: Always check with your physician first before starting any form of exercise

Modern society: What I don’t have and don’t want

Modern society has many benefits which I enjoy, but also many things that stress me out and make me feel uncomfortable. And although I’m really thankful for some things that modern society has brought me, light, heaters, clean water, hot showers, washing machine and a wonderful house, there are also things that I don’t want to be a part of.

Smart phone

  • I used to have a smart phone, but it drove me insane! I don’t like to be “connected” to the world 24/7. I don’t want people to see whether I’m online or not. I don’t want to get meaningless messages that are getting send out of boredom. I could go on, but that would make this a really negative post.

Post-paid mobile service

  • I have a pre-paid mobile phone and never had a post-paid one in my life. I don’t want to pay for something I don’t even use and I like the freedom of pre-paid. When money is a bit tight, I can just choose not to pay for using my mobile phone.

Games (on- and offline)

  • I’m not a big gamer. Darling Boyfriend tried to explain World of Warcraft to me a few times, but it’s just not for me. I do like board games though, but I don’t play them that often.

Creditcard

  • Never had one, and never want one. I don’t need one and I don’t like the concept of it.

Car

  • Cars cost a lot of money and that’s money I rather save or spend on something more useful to me. I use public transportation, my bike and my scooter to get anywhere.

IMG_6929

Our modern society is engaged in polishing and decorating the cage in which man is kept imprisoned.  -Swami Nirmalananda

Of course, there are also modern things I do have and don’t want to get rid of

Laptop

  • I love my laptop! I use it pretty much every day. I use it for fun, but also for administration stuff. I wouldn’t want to go without it.

Internet

  • From my point of view, one of the greatest inventions in years is the Internet. I use it pretty much every day. I really like how I can use it to look up pretty much every thing I want to.

E-reader

  • I love reading, but carrying around books all the time can be a bit hard. I use my E-reader a lot and I consider it to be the best buy I had in many years. For more about my experience with the E-reader, see my blog post: It’s a kind of magic!

Mobile phone

  • I have a very simple mobile phone which I got for free from a friend. I like to have it with me in case of an emergency and to seek out for contact when I’m on the road. I don’t have a landline, so I use my mobile phone to keep in touch with family and friends.

TV

  • I have a small and cheap TV which works great. I rarely watch TV, but I do like to have one in the house to watch the few shows I really like.

Small cable package

  • I have the cheapest cable package available in the Netherlands (besides not having a cable package at all, which, of course, is free). It’s € 12,50 a month (that’s 16,29 USD/10,78 GBP) and it has the 26 most popular channels in it. I love it! I rarely watch TV, so this cable package suits me.

Twitter

  • Well, I don’t have Twitter, but my weblog does. I use it to share new posts with the people who would like to read them.

There are also some other things I don’t have and don’t want, like a big house (I would love to be part of the tiny house movement) and debts (although I don’t think anyone really wants debts), but I wouldn’t call those thing modern (after all, even in the Middle Ages people had big houses and/or debts).

I don’t judge anyone who does have or wants these things. They are just not for me.

It’s my birthday

Today is my 23rd birthday. 23 years of ups and downs, 23 years of hello’s and goodbye’s, 23 years of tears and smiles. It has been a rollercoaster to say the least.

There have been many times in which I’ve been wondering what it all was for, what is the goal, the purpose of life? But don’t we all? I don’t have an answer and I don’t know if I will get one any time soon. But I might not have an answer, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn many valuable lessons.

Like that clichés are clichés because they’re usually true. Don’t judge a book by its cover, you never know what someone has been through and/or is going through right now. Money won’t make you happy. I had money and I when I had it, I was more unhappy than I’ve been in many years. Every cloud has a silver lining. No matter how dark times were, there came an end to it eventually.

Some other things I’ve learned, which I value very much, are that some people are toxic, whether they mean to or not. Also, it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes. And one of the most important things; if you don’t believe you can change something in this world, because you think you won’t make a difference, no one will BUT also that you can’t change everything in this world.

Life’s been hard on me and I often wondered why. But over the years I’ve come to realize that life IS hard, life IS unfair and it can make you break down. And that’s okay, as long as you get up again.

I’ve many things to be thankful for; my family, in-laws, boyfriend, friends, my feline friends, the wonderful trips I’ve been on, the many chances I’ve been given and much, much more. Life is a present and I’m happy to have been given it.

IMG_7261-2

Hopes, dreams and thanks

My birthday is coming up, it’s on saturday to be exact. I’ll be turning 23 and the last 10 or so years have been challenging. There have been good times, but also many bad times. I won’t be going into it too much, but I’m just glad I somehow found the strength to carry on. So, 23. Not really a magical number and I never feel any older when my birthday comes and goes, but still, it has been another year on this wonderful planet, which gives some food for thought.

First, I have many thanks. I have a great family who stick with me no matter what, a wonderful boyfriend whom I dearly love, great in-laws who are always there to help, I have amazing friends, I have a roof above my head, I never need to worry about food or water, I have clothes to keep me warm, books to widen my imaginary horizon and I’m going to college to study to become something, out of many other things, I’ve always wanted to become (when it comes to my career that is). I also have the great pleasure to have two feline friends in my life. They thought me one of the most valuable lessons in life: The best things in life are free. For that, I’m enternily grateful.

So, what about my hopes and dreams… Because a girl has got to dream, right? My first and foremost dream is to have as little stuff as possible. Over the past few years I’ve gone from being a over consumer to a semi-minimalist and I’ve never been feeling better. I no longer define my self-worth by the amount of stuff I own. Owning less makes me happy, peaceful and humble. My second dream is to keep up the good spirit I’ve been having for the past year. Of course, there have been ups and downs, but so far, when it comes to my mood and view on things, this year was one of the best years I can remember. My third and last wish is to forgive myself when things do not go the way I planned it. I’m my own worst enemy and I would really like to be my best friend. I have some goals I really want to work on, like staying vegan at least most of the time and focusing on college, without forgetting to have fun. And because I’m a true believer in making your own dreams come true, I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine!