Friday, December 26, 2014

The Herbivore's Dilemma Part 2: Life Choices

Probably the biggest dilemma in anyone's life, which I think seems even more exaggerated for the animal rights advocate, is the decision about what to do with your life in general. Everyone struggles with those major life choices; what career to pursue, where to live, whether or not to start a family, those sorts of things. For most people though, these choices are primarily just about deciding what will make them happy (which, by the way, is difficult enough in and of itself) but for the animal rights activist, these seemingly personal decisions take on a whole other level of meaning. As I said in my previous post on this subject, it is quite possible to incorporate helping animals into our everyday lives, but figuring out how to best go about that can be quite confusing. 

When it comes to career, should you focus on trying to find an animal rights related job (which are few and far between, and usually low-paying when you do find them) or try to find something that pays well, so that you will be able to afford to help monetarily with the causes you care about? When you are trying to decide where you want to live, should you go someplace with a high vegan population so you will have like-minded people nearby, or should you settle someplace less vegan-friendly in the hope that you will have a better chance of influencing the people around you toward a more compassionate lifestyle? Is it better to start a family in an attempt to contribute to a new generation with a different view the animals who share our planet, or is it better to just avoid contributing to the human population at all? 

One particular decision that I have recently been thinking about is the choice to actually rescue animals ourselves. Taking in an animal in need feels like a very obvious and concrete way to make a difference. It has occurred to me though that by doing this, I have practically prevented myself from doing many other things that could potentially have a much greater overall impact. I have thought many times how much I would like to volunteer for a large number of different charities, but because I am responsible for the care and well-being of several other creatures, I can't exactly just pick up and travel across the country helping different organizations. As much as I love all of the non-human animals who have come to live with me over the years, I have realized that by doing something that I thought would give me a definite sense of accomplishment I have, in reality, prevented myself from being able to accomplish many other things that could have had a much large effect on the big picture.  

Of course, all of these choices are subjective, and we all have to decide for ourselves what is best for our own lives. None of us can ever know for sure what lies ahead of us, or what impact our lives may have. All we can really do is take into consideration the potential implications of our actions and do the best we can to give meaning to our lives.