Defeatism

One of my biggest pet peeves is the defeatism argument.

You all must know what I’m talking about, right?

Here’s how it goes…

You start pointing out some horror in the world – it doesn’t matter what it is, but it’s something specific that you identify with and have passion for… You start talking about it with someone and the ways in which you try to do your part. Sometimes it means blogging, sometimes it’s going to conferences, or demos, walks, or even by boycotting…

The defeatism response always one of the following:

1. They’ll mention other horrors that go on in the world as a way minimize your concern.  As if one bad situation erases another?

2. They mention that other people don’t care, so why should they?

3. They make the point that one person can’t change the world.

I really REALLY hate these arguments. Should people stop worrying about the harms of pornography just because there are homeless people in the world? 

It’s the worst theory. It’s the worst argument and it’s really just a logical fallacy or an ad hominem attack.  When people use the old defeatism trick, all they are trying to do is re-route the conversation, derail the debate… And usually it’s because they are guilty of not caring and it bothers them that other people care about the things they can’t be bothered to care about and as a way to dismantle them or “level” them, they try to make their cause, passion or concern seem like it’s not important.

It annoys the hell out of me. There have been more situations than I can count of people telling me that animal rights doesn’t matter because human beings are suffering. It gets me all riled up because 1. human beings ARE in fact animals, which means I DO care about their rights and welfare. 2. Why the heck can’t I care about more than one horror? Because I care about one, I automatically can’t care about others? Can’t I care about the animals in slaughter houses, AND care about the homeless person who wound up there because of a mental illness?

When people use that argument, they are essentially pushing their own life philosophy on other people and I absolutely hate that – especially because that type of life philosophy seems so outside of human intelligence, I don’t understand why anyone would promote it.  Apply that same philosophy to any other point in life…

Why watch movies when there is a good chance the one you are paying for will suck?

Why live now, you are going to die someday?

And the people who use that train of thought to avoid ever really thinking, are the type of people who don’t realize that many of our passions have resulted from feedback that personally affects us in society.  I didn’t just up and wake up one morning and think to myself – you know what? Today I’m going to pick on pornography cuz a lot of people like it and I want to destroy their fun!!!  I actually have had personal experiences that led me to be passionately against it (at least the hetero mainstream crap – which is the only porn I’ve ever seen around me).  THAT is why I care, not because I just feel like caring about everything and anything.

When you see videos, 2 dimensional videos almost destroy your family and countless relationships and when you’ve seen it even affect your friends negatively, you stop thinking of it as harmless fun and you wake up to the REALITY that this may not be peachy pie, harmless or fun.

Sometimes you wake up to your cat licking your face and when she follows you around, you begin to realize how social these animals actually are. As you feel all of their bones and muscles – you start to realize how similar they are to you.

Am I delusioned into thinking that me being vegan will end all animal suffering? Heck no. But it takes a seed to grow a plant, and a few plants to grow an orchard.  Every movement has to start SOMEWHERE and I sure as hell know that it didn’t even start with me.

The same people who use the defeatism argument are the same people that take for granted everything that they have and the blood and sweat someone else shed to get them to that point. You think women would be voting now if people used the defeatism argument? Would women still be considered property by the majority of men with that theory?  Would people be thrown in jail for abusing children with that attitude?

Unfortunately – progress isn’t something that is markedly visible.  It isn’t a contrast, it is a flow. There are those goals and until those goals are met, progress is virtually invisible.  On the way to those goals is probably the hardest thing to see but you know what? Just cuz you don’t see progress, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

From that first moment I became anti-porn, I have seen the movement begin to grow. It was basically invisible when I was searching for resources to understand the things that were affecting my life personally and there were basically none (except for the conservative websites, which just didn’t offer the support I was looking for or the understanding that I felt was honest). Now I see more bloggers posing the question, I’ve met more people unwilling to ignore it… Maybe it’s coincidence but I go on with the hope that it’s progress. Maybe progress isn’t good enough but it has to be in some situations – especially situations that affect our culture and attitudes.

Not all states have legalized gay marriage or civil unions but SOME do and compared to 10 years ago – THAT is progress. It may not be the ultimate goal (of it being legal everywhere) but it is progress and all of that progress woulda been non-existent if people took the defeatism argument seriously.

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