Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Messianic Impulse

Two groups in Seattle with messianic impulses have recently been making their squeaks more noisome of late. They are the Unhappy-with-Kiva subgroup of the Kiva Seattle Team and the Northwest Animal Rights Activists group who are exposing all those who serve foie gras. Now, I am quite content to let any and all of these people believe what they want and express their concerns, just stop trying to convert the rest of us and stop telling us what to do! Rant 1: the U-w-K subgroup, aka the Pissed-off-with-Kiva's-recent-decision group. Kiva Management recently decided to test the waters for making domestic loans to needy entrepreneurs, not just those in developing countries. It is not a requirement that any Kiva members direct their loans domestically, just another option. Well, you would have thought that Kiva was now making loans to Bernie Madoff. According to the U-w-K leader, Tom, there is no poverty in the US like Third World poverty; all Americans are wealthy enough to get along without assistance because there are banks and lending institutions here (anybody been reading about the credit crunch lately?). Now, Tom and this group are not merely content with just continuing to make loans to entrepreneurs in developing world, no, they want us all to send messages to Kiva, have ranting conference calls with Kiva. We, on the Seattle Team, went through two rounds of this. Several of us decided that when Tom would not cease & desist, we would leave the Seattle Team (so we would not have to deal with these rants) and just continue our giving to whomever we choose to through Kiva.
Rant 2: Local NPR affiliate, KUOW, hosted a discussion on a recent edition of Weekday with Steve Sher, regarding foie gras: eating, producing, serving in restaurants. The guests on the show were journalist Mark Caro who has written a book "The Foie Gras Wars"; Jonathan Sundstrom, restaurateur/chef of Lark; and Jenn Kaplan, attorney for Northwest Animal Rights Activists (NARA). Members of the latter group stage demonstrations outside restaurants that serve foie gras. They have arrived every Friday night since January on the sidewalk in front of Lark: consumption of foie gras during this time period has increased 20%,consumption nationally has decreased 20%, largely due to the recession. NARA is also focusing on the plight of chickens in industrial complexes and is planning demonstrations at KFC and McDonald's. Their ultimate goal is to stop the consumption of all animals. I am all for the ethical raising and slaughtering of animals: proper care, clean environments, a decent life for all farm animals. Those who do not wish to eat animals are welcome to eat what they want. What I object to is the self-righteousness of those who tell me what I can and cannot eat. When restaurateurs visit the farmers from whom they purchase their food products and see how the animals are treated, when they care enough about their clients and the earth to strive to only serve organic food, they should not be made to feel like criminals.

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