Weekly Newsletter - August 14, 2014
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

  1. Activist Feedback
  2. Essay: Peacemaking, part 4: Does Hypocrisy Matter?
  3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Activist Feedback

Jen, who leafleted with Leigh at The Fest on 8/3 in Willoughby, OH, writes:
 
I was there for a couple hours and Leigh came for one hour.  We handed out about 2 boxes [600] of booklets.  I had a few good conversations with people who were interested but also encountered a few who wanted to debate everything from Bible verses, to abortion, to the Palestinian/Israel crisis.  It was worth being there overall.


2. Essay: Peacemaking, part 4: Does Hypocrisy Matter?

Last week, I noted that peace activists who eat meat and other animal products appear to be hypocritical. Should animal activists focus on hypocrisy?
 
Appearing to be consistent strengthens one’s argument. People who don’t eat animal products are more effective opponents of factory farming. Otherwise, the focus easily shifts away from factory farming to why they eat the animal products.
 
However, as Mary Midgely noted, a man who is in the habit of breaking people’s arms is correct when he says that we shouldn’t break people’s legs. Charges of hypocrisy focus on the messenger rather than the message, and the implication of the charge of hypocrisy is that messenger is acting in bad faith. In other words, it shifts the focus to the speaker’s motivations.
 
This generally leads to unproductive conversations, for several reasons. First, the speaker’s motivations don’t matter – it’s the content that should count. Second, attribution of motivations is usually inaccurate, and sometimes totally mistaken. Third, people are often offended when their motivations are challenged. Challenging motivations might make for good theater or for effective rhetoric (see, for example, Fox News debates), but it generally yields much more heat than light.
 
Therefore, rather than accuse people of hypocrisy, I think a more effective strategy is to show where we agree with them, and then point out how, for us, consistency of principle demands a plant-based diet. In other words, we focus on our own choices and why we make them, rather than why other people make their choices.
 
Next week, I will continue to explore what constitutes respectful communication, and why this is needed to generate harmonious and just communities.


3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

Seeking Good Avoiding Evil


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