These days, it seems as if we live in a society that, on the surface of things, has appeared to lose the ability to present a well-articulated, well-researched and compelling argument meant to invoke deep inner thought and contemplation in those who hear and read it.
No, instead we live in the age of extremism, where each side of a certain topic hurl and bash their biased opinions together in a flurry of verbal violence, all in the name of getting good ‘buzz words’ out in the collective ether to snag those sweet social media likes, comments and publicity.
The only thing about extremist views is that they simply don’t work, and all they do is simply force the opposing side to dig their heels in and revert to childish name calling before ending any attempt at further conversation.
Let’s take the Meat/Beyond Meat topic, for example. It’s a hot-button issue, especially here on the Prairies in what is most definitely ‘Cattle Country’.
Those who are vegan/vegetarian claim all sorts of alleged facts surrounding red meat; it’s linked to causing cancer, the cows’ flatulence is somehow linked to poor air quality, the amount of water being used to raise cattle is astronomical; these are among the biggest talking points. So, in turn, they promote the Beyond Meat burger – it looks like meat, it’s marketed as tasting like meat, but brother, IT AIN’T MEAT!
Not only are grocery stores getting in on the topic by stocking the beef-less patties, but so are fast-food restaurant chains such as A&W, a corporation that is already in hot water with Canada’s beef industry for allegedly not purchasing from Canadian suppliers.
On the flip side, you have those who are involved in the meat industry such as the cattle ranchers who dot the Canadian & American landscapes. They’re a simple kind of people who pride themselves on their hard work in raising quality animals that meet high standards. They refute the claims made by the ‘other side’ about the meat they produce – the cancer links, the water usage, the cow farts – and if they don’t outright refute them, they provide data and statistics that conflict with what the other side is saying.
And apparently, at least according to those who support the meat industry side of things, the Beyond Meat burger is equal to eating poison based on the list of complicated ingredients and preservatives.
“Our burgers don’t give you cancer!” says one side.
“Our burgers have ingredients that you can pronounce!” says the other.
Let’s move on, shall we? How about climate change, huh? Let’s look at that popular little thing going on in the media today!
The big thing in the last couple of weeks is the presentations on climate change (or ‘emergency’, depending on who you ask) by 16-year old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Her passionate speeches have caused what’s being called the Extinction Rebellion, a movement in which protestors are blocking major roads, traffic bridges, and city squares in places all around the world, all of it supposedly in the name of the world’s leaders doing something about climate change.
In Edmonton this past Monday morning, commuters on the Walterdale Bridge during rush hour were none too happy when the movement affected their daily routine. The protest went for 75 minutes before there was a ‘peaceful end’ to it.
Personally, I question the logic behind blocking an army of vehicles on a busy bridge and actually letting them pump all sorts of additional emissions in the air as they sit and idle, all in the name of cleaning up our environment, but hey, what do I know?
Here’s where I stand on the whole ‘Meat/Beyond Meat/Climate Change’ stage.
I was raised on meat, and I’ll eat meat until the day I die. I’m a proud omnivore, which is a term that I wish more people would use because it’s more truthful than the “ravenous, blood-thirsty carnivores” that both vegans/vegetarians AND some fellow meat eaters portray us as. What’s beside that grilled chicken breast? Probably some broccoli or cauliflower. What’s typically nestled beside that medium-rare ribeye steak? Asparagus, mushrooms and a Caesar salad.
I enjoy it, and I don’t disparage those who choose not to. I expect the same courtesy in return.
As far as climate change goes, I certainly don’t have all the answers and I know that something needs to be done, but pissing off a bunch of people who are simply trying to get to work or even getting home to a family that needs them by literally blocking their path is not the way to garner any sort of substantial support for your cause. Like I said earlier, all that’s really being accomplished is the proverbial heel-digging by the people you’re upsetting.
As far as young Greta goes, hey, I can admire her passion and even her flare for the dramatic, but I question the decision by level-headed people to give such a young, still-growing individual such a powerful and influential platform to propagandize such a complex and complicated topic with dangerous and almost toxic fear-mongering rhetoric and language.
Stand where you want on any topic out there in the world, but have the maturity to hear out the other side without pulverizing their viewpoints into the ground. ‘Big-Picture People’ are getting to be an extinct species, and that legitimately scares me.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.