Human nature and psychological perception is often flawed and biased. We always tend to think that we live in the best possible time, with optimal conditions and most natural laws and habits.
We often have an utmost preconception towards our past while shutting eyes to the ignorance of our present. We tend to view the past in a Hobbesian way, seeing the barbarism and narrow-mindedness of generations before ours. We can see an ugly reflection of our species when we remember the mistreatment of black people, suppression of women rights and freedoms, atrocities of Western civilizations towards aboriginal people during colonization periods, as well as horrors and inhumanity of multiple wars permeating our history.
Just as you might see mistreatment of black people and women inconsistent with your modern outlook, so the contemporaries of these events considered them to be a normal part of the reality.
Just like slave traders in XVIII century or antient Rome considered subjugation of other races a normal cause of actions, so we often consider animal eating, climate pollution and fast fashion to be a part of a norm. If we try to get down to the motives and rationale of these concepts, however, we can observe that they are similar in nature.
Just as contemporaries of slave trade believed it to be normal to force other people to do things for their own benefit and pleasure, so we believe animals, developing countries and the Planet should bear the cost of our Amazon-click convenience lifestyle. Various levels of subtlety, but the same unifying trait: convenience in exchange for the suffering and deprivation of others.
We dressed our sins in the attractive package of Capitalism and market economics and our insatiable desires into the wrapping of “consumer rights”. Just as the ones before it, our generation is winning the game with conscience by attributing the flavor of normality to the offenses of our greed and selfishness.
No generation is guilt free. And as we have seen throughout history, progress in societal consciousness does not stand still. We advance as a species and we advance as individuals. Just as we can acknowledge our misdeeds and backwardness, we should take note of our ability to recognize our shortcomings.
Collectively we managed to understand women are not inferior to men. All despite hundreds of yours of Biblical and political teachings. With time and observation we managed to understand no single race is inferior to another purely by the nature of birth. Due to an inherent human striving for progress, equality and justice, we realized that every person deserves happiness, access to knowledge and the means of work. We managed to comprehend the right to private property and individual freedoms as an exchange for contributions to the well-being of the society as a whole.
The advances our species managed to achieve are indeed as impressive as they are incalculable. Most importantly, we should take note of our collective ability to eventually separate the right and progressive thoughts from decadent and hurtful.
There can be groups of people who reject vaccination putting their children at risk of dying from simple preventable diseases like smallpox or yellow fever. There are groups of people who believe women should have their feet bound or neck stacked with metal rings; all as a sadistic way to show the status and increase the attractiveness to the opposite sex. Some people still believe women should be prevented from getting sexual pleasure thus they cut their clitoris. Some people think animals shall be eaten raw, thus spreading deadly and contagious diseases to others. Some groups of people believe it is normal to bomb public places or stab by passers for the achievement of their fanatic ideological goals. Some believe it is acceptable to force children into pornography if this can bring a revenue.
The list can go on indefinitely. What is important to note with all these cases is that the absolute majority of human population has evolved to have the morally right perception about certain things. Laws and enforcements are being set up to punish people inflicting pain and suffering on others. In other words, no matter how outrageous any of the abovementioned acts is, – it is being performed by a minority of people. Moreover, oftentimes, this minority is very much aware of committing a moral crime.
How did we come to view eating fellow humans or forcing children into sex slavery as a revolting and punishable acts? We evolved through a moral evolution of the absolute majority.
Despite perceived conveniences and personal gains, our moral compass clearly indicates the right from the wrong. And just as in centuries before our time, we can now clearly see how current moral evolution is sweeping the streets of our societies. It will not take too long to see the results of the societal pressure coming from a morally right minority.
It took the determination of key players, such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, weaponized by a decisive minority of morally right people to change a centuries long mistreatment of people of color. Currently we see a whole plethora of morally right people pushing the new paradigm of thinking which will come to dominate XXI century and beyond.
- Clearly, we see Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion spearheading the climate emergency movement.
- Numerous animal rights activists, media and conscious consumers like you and me are shaping the future of clothes production, animal mistreatment and sustainability economics.
- Various forces are at work to move to veganism and vegetarianism, thus bringing thousands of years of animal suffering to a halt.
Eating your steak for dinner, wearing a fur coat to a party or driving Ferrari might seem a normal or even a cool thing to do. In this light of current way of things all the environmentalists’ efforts might seem useless or inefficient. However, the moment our moral compass starts telling us our “everyday normal” is a wrong path, we have already crossed a moral bridge to the next step in human evolution.
The moment a slave trader felt guilt for exploiting another human being, the slave trade was on its way to an end. The moment you feel bad about wearing Zara skirt that had been sawn by a malnourished and exploited Chinese woman fast fashion has started its descent into history; the moment you feel bad for choosing a whole milk instead of soya the milk industry has suffered an irreparable blow; the moment you feel bad for wearing real fur instead of faux one Versace and Gucci are left with no option but to follow Stella McCartney example.
You might make fun of vegans, Greta or the teacher of ethics. But if deep inside your mind you know they are morally right, they have won the battle before announcing a fight.