When your morals are exhausting

I am theoretically sympathetic to veganism but one of my complaints about it is that it is exhausting. Vegans I’ve known seem to yo-yo between guiltily eating meat and missionary zeal, passing from one phase to the other other as sure as the waxing and waning of the moon. The vegan tends to move from one stressful position (guilt) to another stressful position (proselytism) then back again. In his proselyte phase he is at odds with family and friends and his own inability to convince them of his superior path. He is never at peace.

The same happens with politics: a couple of years ago a political group was disseminating talking points for Millennials to use in defense of Obamacare should family members bring it up during Thanksgiving dinner. If any little shit actually attempted to use Thanksgiving to shill for Obamacare I suspect the youngster would have been emotionally worn out by the experience. In general I feel quite dismayed watching the rise of Identity Politics but one thing that gives me hope is that all that outrage just isn’t sustainable, eventually these people will burn out.

Proselytism will wear anyone out. Religious groups that focus on it (like Jehovah’s Witnesses) have a high turnover. For all the converts such groups get in a given year their numbers never grow because the older members quietly drop out from exhaustion. Some religious cultures are emotionally exhausting: Evangelical groups that empathize cheerfulness as a virtue also suffer high turnover; no one can be cheerful all the time, and faking a smile is tiresome.

An old conviction of mine is that guilt rarely achieves anything useful. Fear of hell-fire, ecological disaster or the shame of being white might create a burst of energy (conveniently manipulated by preachers and politicians) but it does not create anything lasting.

Things that do seem to create lasting change in a person: a sober evaluation of ones failures and successes in life, or feeling drawn to the beauty of a truly good person.


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