Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The power of a word....

I have never really understood why more people don't see the shape of words. I don't mean just the shapes of the letters that comprise the words, but the emotional shapes and essences of words. Take, for instance, the word 'terror'...I have always thought that - at least in its lower case format - the right-slanted rs give it a decidedly menacing aspect. Likewise 'horror', to me, is a word that looks like an expression of that which it is describing - a face with eyes wide open, frozen in a mime of pure fright.

Am I alone in reading such images into words?

Perhaps not. There are, as even a brief gander around the blogosphere will show you, plenty of folks who attach images and emotions to the word 'vegan'. This otherwise unassuming little five-letter term seems to be inextricably bound up in negative connotations in the minds of non-vegans of all flavours and is often accused of ugliness or crudeness or is associated with '-isms', such as militantism, dogma, extremism and radicalism. All of this is, to my mind, bound up in the fact that veganism turns the spotlight on the social acceptance of animal abuse and exploitation. And this makes non-vegans naturally uncomfortable.

To me, however, the word vegan is a perfect expression of compassion in action, of simple and elegant truth, of the philosophy of intentional and active non-harm. It encapsulates the values I choose to live by, that form who I am and who I strive to become. It is an everyday manifestation of my principles and the ethical baseline for every action I take, every thought I think and every interaction I have with others. Distinct and separate from 'vegetarian', it is so much more than just a diet: it is a whole way of being in the world and of looking both inward and outward. Spiritually, it is peace; physically, it is beauty; emotionally, it is empathy, kindness and love.

So.....that is why I am joining the ranks of those who love and celebrate this word, who embrace and wear it proudly.

I am getting my first tattoo: vegan.