In the last twenty four hours I have been obsessively embroiled in a heated discussion on an online blog collective. I usually read blog articles with an open mind and I might not always agree but there is no visceral or emotional reaction. I am able to hang back, observe, and process, but occasionally something grabs not only my attention but my guts and becomes a flashing neon target, and I take the bait, hook, line and sinker. This article was about all the false arguments and justifications meat eaters use for their immoral and planet destroying penchant for flesh. Honestly I mostly agreed with the premise of the article even though I can currently count myself amongst the cruel destroyers of the earth. I actually would quite like to go vegetarian, vegan is a bit too extreme for me, but I have kids, one of whom is a carnivore through and through, makes it tough.
What really got me was the tone and delivery of the author's argument. I can boil it down to one line that really hit my sensitive spot. He said,"I am not talking down to you, or judging you. Now get your head out of your butt before it gets lodged in there permanently. See what I did there?" I saw what he did there, he pushed a major button in my pain body. The whole article smacked of fundamentalism, which I don't think is ever good, no matter the cause. It was condescending, disparaging, and lacking in any invitation to a compassionate discourse, but the epicenter of its explosive effect on me was in that one line. It provoked me to post a comment, which received abrasive and biting comments from other readers and back and forth we went. I could not stop from continuing to defend because they just were not seeming to get my point. I could not disengage even when a wise friend suggested that would be the best course of action. That hook had sunk in deep, I could struggle but I could not get away. Now I ask myself "Why?" This is actually of more interest and consequence to me than my position on the article. What got triggered? Clearly the intensity of my response had something more in it than feeling offended by this author's statement, right or wrong. This had something to do with me. Here it is, I don't like to be labeled as stupid. Stupid hits me deep in my psyche. I was bullied in elementary school (read relentlessly verbally attacked) and one of the most popular offenses was to attack my intelligence or cruelly try to say I did not have any. This is a shadow space, a core wound and the ego goes to great lengths to defend this vulnerable territory, the problem is that the defense causes its own suffering. To end this cycle of suffering requires deep self love, patience, and a willingness to bring the shadow into consciousness. This does not mean to get rid of the shadow, it holds many gifts and a lot of energy, but to hold it and comfort it, heal it. Whenever we find ourselves reacting to our environment with anger, behind it we will find fear, shame, hurt. Knowing this might allow us to be more compassionate. The author of this article is clearly angry too and now I can remember that he too must be experiencing fear, sadness, suffering. I still do not agree with his methods but I honor his humanity that is just like mine. I think we all get hooked. What we don't always do is dig in and figure out why. What does our reactivity point to in ourselves? Going there is the only way to get off the hook.