Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Origins of HEALTH: The Foundational Years


Introduction
This is the first post in a trilogy in which I will share my own personal narrative of how I arrived to the moral position I hold today. This essay comes out of a
Moral Values presentation I was invited to give at my college as a person who had an active presence on campus.

You may be wondering, "What exactly does this have to do with coalition building, veganism, and feeding the world?" Good question! These will all be answered if you read through the posts. But the main reason I am posting this autobibliographical information is because I believe in the power of narrative. Narrative allows us the unique opportunity to understand another in a way few other things can. Through, narrative we see each other first as people and then as--perhaps in my case--vegans, privileged males, (eco)feminists, crazy liberals, etc. Thus, stories break through political divisions and present a face to which we are invited to ethically respond to (i.e.
Levinas). So whatever our opinion is on killing animals and free trade, this is an opportunity to delve into someone else's history of ideas, to see "where they are coming from."

We are indeed narrative creatures. Many philosophers are of the opinion that it is through telling stories that make us the most human, although I'll let you decide on that one. Hannah Arendt discusses in her The Human Condition the power of storytelling as political action, behavior that has a beginning but no ending. Stories are told and retold, each retelling a new interpretation. In fact, there are clinical psychologists who promote
narrative therapy as a way of treating anxieties, because how we tell stories, how we choose to end them, and which ones we choose to tell shape our self-perception, our very identity. The following is not just my story, but a small slice of a larger story. We never have ownership of these stories, they are born in communities and transcend the life of the narrator... Really, though, I hope people may find some valuable knowledge in this story as I have. Through stories, we discover things about others, as well as about ourselves. Stories can also provide inspiration. As you'll read, I did not choose a vegan lifestyle until I was 19 because (other than being ignorant of animal agribusiness) I knew of no stories to provide me with guidance. If you've ever been veg*n, you'll know how much most of us enjoy learning others' journeys.
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