This title sounds like a revolutionary rallying slogan,doesn't it? But then, we vegans are leading a worldwide humane revolution, a revolution that doesn't involve bloodshed, instead we are trying to prevent that! The three words in the title, the three "L"s, kind of sum up my philosophy, world-view and moral outlook. It's often so hard to know what is the right thing to do, isn't it? There have always been so many ideas, theories, political systems, ideologies and religions, that have had their place in history and the running of the world, and most of them do have at least some merit and validity. We have all been brought up in a particular country and culture and political regime, most of us have been taught a system of values by our parents, teachers, etc, and a lot of us have had to follow a certain religious faith, at least whilst we were young and dependent. Some people continue to follow the dictates of their upbringing, whereas a lot, like me, deconstruct all the old conditioning and reconstruct it into their own ideology. We hold on to the ideas we believe have some merit, and get rid of the rest.
The conclusions I have come to, the way my moral compass points, is that the best way to live is to base your actions on respect for the three "L"s; Life, Love and Liberty. I believe the largest measure of truth and good lies in adhering to these principles, as far as is reasonably possible. To elaborate:
1) Life: I am a vegan and an animal rights activist, so by a natural inference, I am pro-life. I believe that all living creatures have a right to existence and freedom, as much as humans do, so I try to preserve their lives, if it is within my power to do so. Which is why I will no longer eat, wear or use any animal (including insect) products, and always try to limit what damage I do, and tread lightly upon the Earth.
2)Love: This is a natural extension of the first principle, preserving life. In essence veganism is about love, love for all species and for the planet. In an ideal world, if we could create a utopia, love should come first. What kind of a world is worth living in, where people are only concerned with money, material objects, their own egos, with ruthlessly exploiting the planet, other species, and other humans? Sadly there is too much of that mind-set about anyway, but it doesn't have to be that way! Some of us aim to live our lives in accordance with an inclusive, all-encompassing love . Love has many forms; not just romantic love, sexual love, love for family and friends, etc, but also love for others we do not know by extending them tolerance, respect and mercy.At.this point, I am reminded of the current controversy over same-sex marriages. Why should homosexuals not have the same rights as heterosexuals? If two people love each other and want to make a formal commitment, they should be free to do that. As I said, love should come first, above any arguments about tradition, "nature", conventionality, or social mores. If two people want to make a union based on love , surely that that can only add to the sum of the world's happiness
3)Liberty: My final guidepost, Liberty, follows on naturally from what I have just been saying about love and tolerance. Liberty is one of the cornerstones of humane civilization, in other words, the right for all people ,and indeed all species, to be free to live their lives the way they choose, as long as what they are doing does not harm anyone. Naturally as in the example above, two consenting adults who choose to get married or have a same-sex relationship are doing no harm to anyone else. Also on the subject of liberty, this should be extended to all creatures: they all have the right to live without any unnecessary harm or interference from humans. Which brings us back to veganism again.
I could also add to other "L"s to the above list, to further expand my philosophy: the doctrine of laissez-faire and the motto "live and let live". But maybe they come under the heading of Liberty in any case. Most of the vegans and animal rights activists I know have very free-thinking and humanitarian views, so I am guessing a lot of you may have a similar outlook to me, with respect to these ideals. A vegan utopia - imagine that!
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)