I, the hypocrite…

Over the past couple of days there has been a subject that has been on my mind.  I’ve seen a few discussions and debates and indeed heated arguments between carnivores/omnivores VS vegan/vegetarians.  I (try) respect everyone’s points of view and decisions that they make, regardless whether I agree with them or not.   But the whole vegan VS carnivores, I believe, is a deeper subject than just meat VS veggies.

I am an omnivore.  I have been eating meat as long as I remember and I enjoy the taste of it.   I am also a hypocrite.  Perhaps one of the biggest issues vegans and vegetarians have with meat eaters, is the cruel way in which animals are bred to just become food.  This is where my hypocrisy comes in to play.  I too don’t agree with how animals are treated and unnaturally kept in order to keep our bellies happy.  We have all seen those pictures that flood the social media in an attempt to put you off eating meat.  I’m even guilty of sharing such pictures, not to shock someone out of eating meat, but more to spread awareness of what the food industry is like.  This makes me a hypocrite.  I hate being a hypocrite.  So what are my options?  Well, vegans do make very good arguments with regards to diet and the way our bodies are constructed – we don’t need meat to survive.  We can live quite easily and efficiently without meat at all in our diet.   So I guess becoming a vegan would be an option.  I wouldn’t eat meat, thus my conscience will be free of supporting a cruel, inhumane industry.  The thing is, I like meat.  I enjoy the texture and taste of it, so the question is am I willing to totally exclude meat from my diet to ease my conscience and make a personal stand against the meat industry? 

If I have meat in my diet does that make me a bad person?  I know the inhumanity that goes into getting me meat.  I know animals suffer because of my preference for a more carnivorous diet, I know this and yet I still eat steaks, burgers and chicken. Yes, I even eat Macdonald’s from time to time.  Does this make me bad? Lets draw some similarities between this and piracy.  How many of us have illegal movie DVDs and music?  We know piracy is bad, yet millions of us still do it.  Again, I’m a hypocrite.  Does this make me bad?  The short, black and white answer would be yes.  I am guilty of supporting piracy and liking meat, and the fact that I buy and support them means that I am also supporting their work ethics and giving them more business so they can do more of it.  There is a huge question of morals that come into play and the answers are not always black and white, much of it resides in the grey area. 

I believe freedom of choice is something we were born with.  Choice is how we learn and navigate through life.  Surely if meat was my preference I should be allowed that choice, regardless whether it is right or wrong, or whether others agree with it or not.

Many vegans and people would say that any animal killed for food is wrong, but is it?  The fact is, to a large degree, right and wrong is a personal and subjective perception.  What one person finds is right isn’t necessarily what another perceives to be “right”.  I don’t think that eating an animal is cruel, what I do think is cruel is the way our corporate, capitalistic meat industry treats and “preps” animals to become food.  In supporting this system I am wrong.  Is there an alternative for the meat that comes out in bulk from the meat farms?  Can I afford it?  Or is this alternative an alternative to making money out of the meat-eater who has a conscience?  I’m also pretty sure I would be arrested for giving thanks, then slaughtering a cow for food at a residential home – not that I would.  Native American Indians hunted for food and gave thanks to the animal that they captured and killed.  They lived in harmony with nature, does that make them wrong for slaughtering an animal for food for their community? 

Although I am aware that we don’t need meat in our diet and that in fact the way our teeth and digestive system are, suggest that meat was never intended for human consumption, the fact remains is that we have been eating meat for millennia.  Does that still make it right to kill an animal for food?  Many people see animals as beneath us, lesser beings than the great human who dominates the world and is on top of the food chain.  I love animals, and if it were not for the animals, ecosystem and food chain, this earth would not survive.  It is one big balancing act and I am sad to say that it is out of balance.  I think the main beef (excuse the pun) vegans have is with the farms and companies that run the highly unethical treatment of animals for food, and not necessarily with your choice of diet.  If there was an alternative to the mistreatment of animals on farms, would vegans be happier with carnivores and omnivores?  Or does it seem to them that we are the barbaric animals, unforgiving and uncaring for other life?  We as humans have an awareness, and we should be able to see and make a call when something doesn’t sit morally with us, is this one of those subjects? 

Like I have said before people have different views and perceptions.  There is just too many of us and I think that is the problem. Everything is done is such massive, mind-blowing numbers which really makes this topic even more of a sensitive one.  If we weren’t so over-populated, no doubt things would be different for the better.  At the end of the day we are going to have to respect each others perceptions without theirs effecting ours.  Our existence is based on a duality, a balance.  To deduce everything into a “right” and “wrong” is impossible.  It’s what makes our physical reality, and we were given free-will to experience it all. If we are unable to allow each other free-will then does it even exist?   Having said that, have we not evolved enough to not mistreat a living creature and not give into our selfish preference?

Perhaps us humans are just animals.  A lion will eat a zebra and a shark will eat a human.  It happens in nature, animals will hunt and kill for food.  Why would it be different for humans? Maybe it is natural for lions and sharks to eat meat, but it is also natural for man to make tools, build homes and use ingenuity to broaden perception and reality.  We are animals at the end of the day and we are slaves to our animalistic tendencies, but perhaps our evolution will take us beyond that.  Maybe we will evolve to love all living things, with no need to cause pain and hurt to eat and no need to be a hypocrite…

 

P.S.  I am very aware that some of the points I brought up can be discussed to massive depths and there are both arguments for and against.  If you argue this long enough you will end up full circle, right back at the beginning.  There needs to be improvements made to the meat industry, but it is also up to us to make that difference, whether it is being an activist against the cruelty of the animals, you becoming a vegetarian or trying to spread awareness to the people who may not know what the industry is like.  I guess the point is that we have to WANT to make a difference and we have to WANT to be vegetarians/vegans.  Maybe one I day I will be able to disregard what I want and I end up doing what I believe is right. 

Unsuspectingly surprising…

I’ve been trying to come up with some cool concepts for future posts, specifically photography.  I have been looking around the “blogosphere” and have found some really awesome and inspiring blogs!  It’s relieving to see different people still holding a passion for things creative and their want to spread positivity through their blogs.  So I have a few ideas that I really need to put into motion, so keep an eye out.

I have made an effort to try carry my camera around with me more often.  There are so many things that pass us everyday just waiting to be snapped up.  Tuesday evening was one of those moments.  I had a band practice in an industrial part of Cape Town, I took my camera with me with every intention to do some Triptych portraits of my band members, an idea I picked up from a fellow WordPress blogger Per Z perctive.  Unfortunately due to the course of the evening I never got around to those portraits, but as we were leaving the practice room there was this fog that was passing over the area.  Together with the industrial lighting, it was a photograph waiting to be taken.  I jumped out the car and took a couple snaps of what I saw – an eerie, desolate industrial street.  The colour of the light reflecting in the fog gave this lonely street such character, I couldn’t help but take a photograph.

This simple little “exercise” made me realise something again.  Moments continue to pass us by everyday.  If I hadn’t had taken my camera with me, I wouldn’t have captured that moment.  I had every intention of taking a few photographs that evening, but things changed, I instead ended up with only one photograph.  I have no regrets, because it was that one photograph that I needed.  A beautiful, haunting moment that I captured.  Unfortunately I did end up missing opportunities to photograph my band members, but such is life.   Things change, and we can either change with them and adapt or stand strong.  It’s a choice and its neither right nor wrong, but we do end up living the consequences of that choice.  I shall leave you this week with a quote my mom once gave me, which means a lot to me: “When you can’t change the direction of the wind – adjust your sails.”

Home town love

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m lucky to live in this beautiful, photogenic city.  I’m yet to see a bad photograph of Cape Town.  It is surrounded by natural beauty, and a fusion of cultures make this city vibrant and interesting.  Perhaps its the hippy inside me, but Cape Town just feels right. It has a relaxing quality to it.  Maybe its the energy Cape Town emits.  Maybe its the fact that we have all the different elements surrounding us that makes me feel balanced.  We are lucky to have Ocean, wind and a mountain – Water, wind and earth.  We also have our fair share of fire from time to time. 

We are lucky to have one of the natural wonders of the world towering above us.  If we had to jump in a car, within a couple of minutes we could arrive at one of many luscious beaches that are sprawled up and down our coastline.  We also have beautiful forests, which unfortunately saddens me to see less and less trees that once lived around our mountain.  Nevertheless, I live in a beautiful city, rich in culture and history.  The people of this city are the greatest element of Cape Town.  Its the fusion of difference and culture that has mixed over the years, from our rocky past into the new possibilities of the present and future that make this city unique. I love having the ocean, the mountain and the beautiful vegetation surrounding me, that if one of those elements are not there, I don’t feel home.  I love my town and I love my home…

A thought on blogging…

I’ve been blogging for roughly 7 months now and it’s interesting to see the progression and evolution of my blog.  It was originally started to encourage and promote my photography, which it still does, but recently it has branched out somewhat.  I named my blog Observing Vessel, because that is what in essence a camera is.  As the weeks and posts have gone by, I have come to realize that it is not the camera that is the Observing Vessel, but myself.  The camera is just a tool I use to Observe my environment, and when the camera isn’t there?  I’m still an observing vessel, observing and learning from what I perceive.  So my blog has evolved over these short few months, but that’s good.  For things to survive an evolution must take place.  If the environment changes and I do not, then I run the very probable risk of not surviving.

So what does blogging mean to me now that I have been exposed to it for a good few months?  Well, for me, it’s not just about promoting my photography anymore.  It has become an extension of me.  A way for me to voice my thoughts and concerns in a way that isn’t necessarily intrusive.  I have accepted that everyone has an opinion and everyone has different personalities.   We all have the right to voice and express those opinions.  I have found that too many people have taken that right to the extreme.  It’s no longer about voicing opinions because they are concerned or have interest, it is now a matter of voicing opinions because they can.  Regardless of the scenario and of other people, these highly self-opinionated people find the need to express their opinion.  Their argument:  Its their constitutional right.  They seem to think their opinion is more important and righteous than the next persons feelings or situation.  Has the ego gotten so big that we no longer have self-control?

Blogging agrees with my ethos; I can share my thoughts, views and photography with the world, but it isn’t forced on you to read. YOUhave the option whether to read my opinions or not.  If you disagree or don’t like what is written, one can simply just close the window.  What does that do?  Well, for one a blog (if the intentions are pure and true) will attract like-minded thinkers.  They will see a familiarity within the words, thought and photographs; something that attracts them to it.  By sharing my outlooks and interest Im spreading an awareness and consciousness, opening up the door to more possibilities not just for me but for others too.  Other people’s blogs have that effect on me.  They will challenge my thinking and offer new points of view, and if they have something of quality to share, something that is truthful and that I feel the writer believes in, then I will continue to visit their blogs.

There are also many bloggers who promote useless content that doesn’t contribute anything positive to society.   Blogs can (and should) be personal.  The chances are pretty high that you are already working a job that you are not completely fond of and that doesn’t fit your personality, why blog about something that holds no interest to you?  Why promote Hollywood gossip, trends and push ideals because they are popular?  People who blog content that holds no personal interest or morals just for popularity, or indeed money, are lying to themselves and are literally selling themselves short of who theyreallyare.  If that be their choice, then so be it.  Everyone to their own.  I believe truthful, honest blogging can make a difference.  Every time you write you are solidifying what you believe.  The more you write (and blog) the more you can learn about yourself and the more you share, the more of a possibility there is of others learning from you .  Stay true to yourself and spread positivity, why would anyone want to spread anything else?

Landscapes

I’ve noticed my more recent posts are more on the writing/thinking side of things and I have been a little quiet with photography.  That’s the way life goes I guess; in cycles.  I’ll find that every now and then my photography goes a bit quiet, but then I’ll find myself more busy in my musical endeavours and visa versa.  I think rest is important, it leaves you refreshed and in a new frame of mind, ready to take on new tasks and hopefully even see things in a different light.

For my last post of the week I thought Id leave you with some landscape photographs I have taken in the past.  I believe beauty is everywhere, it just depends how you perceive it.  Hope you enjoy these landscape shots from Cape Town and surrounding areas.  Have a great safe weekend and see you all next week…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

A thought on music…

Music seems to be what everyone is talking about at the moment.  With the Grammy awards and another tragic death, I could not help but think what music really is and what it means to me.  I am a musician and have relationship with music.  I believe everyone is different and thus their relationship with music, from the way they perceive it, to the way they play and understand it, will be different.  This is just my thoughts, feelings and views about music.

Music for me is 1st and foremost about expression.  For me that is what it ultimately comes down to.  Music and the industry (I hate referring to a music industry) has grown and changed so much over the last couple decades, not to mention the centuries.  Before (over-population) back in the day there would only be a few people who were gifted and talented at playing an instrument.  They were either lucky or wealthy enough to study or naturally gifted enough to teach themselves.  They were the few musical entertainers.  Now, everyone can afford an instrument and are able to teach themselves through friends, schools and internet. Everyone can play a guitar and thanks to media hype, they have subliminally sold our musicians a life style.  Everyone wants to be rock stars and earn crazy amounts of money by making music.  The industry is now over saturated with “musicians” who have jumped on the band wagon to make a buck.  They have exchanged their musical freedom for a false ideal of what they are lead to believe is the music life style.  You see young musicians in bands who are so excited, so keen to make a name for themselves that they focus so much on promotion and getting fans that the music is only a small percentage of who they are.  They want to do music for a living.  They want to get paid.  Who has the money?  Record labels. The machine.  There are so many possibilities using the internet that I think (and really hope) record labels will become a thing of the past.  I see bands so concerned in turning their music into a living that they forget why they first started to play. 

Mainstream music makes me ill.  The way they do everything.  There is always an ulterior motive.  Record labels are more concerned about making money and pushing music to the population in order to sell more.  The music has become a commodity, not an art. With the rise of technology the opportunist has snuck in and “produced” tracks in a computer and put some nursery-rhyme-esque melodies over same sounding electronic beats and passed it off as a composition.  Now who am I to judge what music means to different people?  I cannot rightfully say that music is better than that. We all have opinions.  I’m careful when it comes to criticizing anything creative.  No one is better than another, we are just different people on different a phase of our musical evolution.  No right or wrong.  What I do find wrong is people who take advantage of technology and just mindlessly create music just to sell.  They sell to make money to become famous.  But what makes a musician who is on all the radio stations, MTV and has all the festival gigs, more successful than me?  Is it really that their music is more important than mine?  It’s all about budget.  Money.  Money doest make you a better musician, just allows you better marketing schemes.

Musicians love the idea of making money of their art. They want to share it with others.  But what do some of those musicians exchange for fame, money and good gigs?  Their record label may convince them to write their songs differently, aim it at a particular market and tour extensively so all their billions of fans can enjoy their music.  Some bands tour for years at a time and still make nothing compared to their bosses.  Record labels end up owning the musicians art.  They have record deals, sweet gigs, millions of followers and they get paid to do the thing they “love” to do.  Their love and art has turned into a machine to make their owners (the labels) richer and gives the musicians a false sense of living the dream.  The sickest part is that the label will own your art even after you die, continuously making them money.  It’s an emotionless machine.

And for the few who take advantage of the technology to make music for idiots just because the industry has bred a MTV idiot generation, you are no better.  Instead of spreading culture, consciousness and expression, you are contributing and feeding the machine.  We are now too afraid for their to be imperfections in our music.  We can correct everything with computers from timing to pitch.  It’s this fear that has sucked the human feel of music right out of the mainstream.  Everything is now computer generated or corrected. Music was never meant to be perfect.  It’s the imperfection that makes one musician differ from another.  I want to hear the musician with all their flaws.  I don’t want to hear perfection.  If music were suppose to be perfect we wouldn’t be playing it. 

I play music for the love of it, for the expression of it.  I love to share my music with others, but I wouldn’t do anything to get my music heard.  Music has given so much to me that it would be an insult to create it with a preconceived notion of making money off of it.  Pure music is love and I would be damned if I feed it to the machine, it’s better than that.

At the end of the day however, we have made our own bed to lie in.  Our greed of the “lifestyle” has warped our mentality and we have exchanged our ideals for material wealth and fame.  We are now living in the by-product of our choices.  Are we too far down the road to make a change?  I’ll continue doing things my way and I encourage you all, in whatever “industry” you are in, DON’T FEED THE MACHINE!

A thought on Valentines day…

Yes, this is another Valentines post. Nothing brings out the cynic more than V-day. It is just another day, another business opportunity to capitalize on human emotion and our ritualistic tendencies. Indeed Valentines day is way over commercialized, but what are we to expect? It seems like we are all complaining about it and that’s where it ends. We will still go out and buy a chocolate or a rose for that person that is close to us. Is that so bad though? The idea and thought behind valentines day is a nice one. A day for celebrating love. The problem comes in that it is too commercialized. Its in all our faces a month before it comes along; reminding those to buy unnecessary trinkets of affection, while reminding others of the loneliness that is to come. It has gone the same way as Christmas, Easter and mothers’ and fathers’ day. These are days to encourage spending. This solidifies my thoughts that we have vested too much into the physical, material and wealth. Some of us feel as though the only way to show love is to shower our lover with gifts and trinkets, and what is possibly even more tragic is that there are people who think that being showered with gifts means that they are loved. Of course receiving a thoughtful gift is always nice, but now its on a huge scale and many of us do the whole Valentines day out of ritual, not out of love or thoughtfulness. Yes, I think its a good day, spreading love any day is a good day, but why just for this day? And why the need for gifts and surprises? Its one thing to do it out of love for the person/persons you hold dear, but do it because you want to and not because its the 14th February and it is customary to give gifts to lovers and potential partners.

We still live with a very materialistic mindset and people who have businesses want to take advantage of that so they can make that little extra money. We all want to be thought of and made special, but this shouldn’t be reserved for this one day. Who really benefits from Valentines day? Whatever your views on this day, don’t ruin it for others. Yes you are entitled to your opinion and yes, you have a freedom of speech, but can you not allow another to enjoy a day without having to put a guilt trip on someone who is showing affection for the person they love? Set aside your egotistical mind. There are a lot of cynics out there who have a mouth load to say, but don’t make others feel bad because they may have found something more important than the physical. Conversely the same can be said for couples who rub their love in everyone’s faces. There is a fine line of balance in life and its up to us to find it. This valentines day instead of complaing about the commercialization and all the fake love out there, try be respectful. Respect everyone, just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong. Contrary to what we have been taught subliminally, life isn’t a competition of who is better or who is right. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but at least even just for this Valentines day, respect everyone.