The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
May 22, 2010

Hey man, got any more red pills?

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Matrix take the red pillThree years ago, I took the red pill and swore off plastic.

Last year, on my hands and knees sopping up a spilled glass of wine, I found another red pill under the couch and, mistaking it for a vintage M&M, popped it in my mouth.  I haven’t had a drink since.

This February,  a third red pill fell out of a book I was reading, and I swallowed it before I realized what I was doing.  I think you know what happened.  I just can’t look at meat without seeing the living animal it once was.

So, I was just wondering if there were any more red pills I should worry about finding because all this “Wonderland” is getting to be a drag. For example, last night, I was out having drinks and appetizers at Chevy’s with my workmates.  Their drinks all involved Tequila.  Mine was pineapple juice and seltzer.  Their drinks came with plastic straws.  I made a scene by refusing a plastic straw. Their food consisted of various combinations of pig, chicken, and cow that they shared with one another, while mine was the Farmers Market quesadilla and no sharing.

I know what you think.  You think I’m going to whine about not having as much fun as they and how unfair it is that I can no longer join in the merriment.  On the contrary.  I did have fun.  I had a swell time.  And my quesadilla rocked.  (How can you argue with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted poblano peppers and cheese?)  I had fun as long as I didn’t think too hard because when I did, I turned into Judgy Judgerson.  Seriously.  And the judging judger had thoughts like,

How can they take plastic straws so casually when they’ve read my blog and they know why plastic is bad?

How can they eat meat without thinking about the actual animals they are putting in their mouths?  Why aren’t they getting grossed out by eating crispy charred animal parts?

Aren’t they embarrassed by how silly they sound?  Don’t they realize how shitty they’re going to feel tomorrow morning after so many margaritas?

How can they not see what I am seeing right now??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!

In short, it sucked to have my brain last night.  Today, it’s awesome not to have a hangover.  And it’s a freakin’ miracle not to worry that in my stupor, I left my wallet or keys or cell phone or glass straw or backpack behind in the restaurant.   And it’s nice to have escaped with my ethics intact.  But the judginess was a real drag.

I’m sure all the judging will pass with time and experience.  At least, I hope it will.  But like I said, I just wanna know if there are any more little red pills hiding in places I least expect them.  It would be nice to have some advance warning, if only to spare my friends from my evil thoughts.

Oh, who am I kidding? My friends are fine.  It’s me I want to spare.  Me who is suffering from the machinations of my mind.  And truly? Seeing through that shit?  THAT will be the final red pill.  That will be me realizing I’m actually living in the dream world of my own thoughts, unwilling to face the ultimate reality.

In fact, that gigantic red pill is sitting on the desk  in front of me as I type these words, right next to the blue one I take every night to go to sleep.  And I can’t decide which one to swallow.  The decision is too big.  Too hard.  Feels like annihilation.  So , okay, keep the little red pills coming if you want.  I can deal with those until I’m ready for the big one.

9 comments
KatieR
KatieR

First of all, the farmers market quesadilla IS in fact amazing, and I applaud you for recognizing it. Here's hoping your next "red pill" won't be dairy. Second of all, I totally dig your anti-judging struggles. In my experience, peace comes when you let go of what you can't control. And you really can't control other people's actions, try as you might. You can give bring them to water, but they're still gonna drink those margaritas. Third of all, sucking on a straw all day will give you wrinkles, so that's another thing you won't have to deal with. ;)

Clif
Clif

I looked up judgmental. The dictionary says... 1. Of, relating to, or dependent on judgment: a judgmental error. 2. Inclined to make judgments, especially moral or personal ones Taking these definitions, I don't see how it is possible not to be judgmental. That's how we decide how to live our lives. So I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for judging. Nobody likes to be nagged, put down or reprimanded, however, so speaking up to friends about judgments can lose those friends. The most influential method is to live by the judgments you have made, not to avoid them and drift. Things do change on the large scale. Do you recall the huge laughs that were received by such big names as Dean Martin and Red Skelton for simply acting drunk? It was such an easy shtick. Remember Bill Dana as Jose Jimenez? How about the coolness of smoking in just about every movie made between 1930 and 1960? Bogart made it an art (and died of lung cancer). The public endorsement of smoking, bigotry and, to a lesser extent, drinking, has slipped and that's come from a zillion personal judgments. It can happen with the environment too. So judge away! Just be careful about how you apply it to others in person, and always leave an opening to change a judgment based on new evidence that you discover.

rob
rob

I've been there. Eventually your friends will age out of drinking too much. Presumably they've also thought about your stance on meat/plastic/alcohol and actively chosen a different path. If you can't handle that, then I'm guessing you need to find new friends. Or, if the friendship is worth it, you need to accept them for who they are...

Lex
Lex

I'm very surprised about this plastic-free attitude, and I think it's a really good thing. I'll try it, for sure. One question, ¿have you considered to go vegan? Because diary's impact on health is being highly discussed. And morally, there's no real difference between meat and diary for the use itself, for the suffering inflicted, and for the connection between these two industries (organic or not). Pretty much the same about eggs or milk. Besides, plastic-free in clothing implies wearing fur, wool, leather or feather based winter clothes. How do you do with this issue? Maybe these are questions you have to answer one time and another, I apologize for being just another one asking the same. Thank you!

Ruthie
Ruthie

This is probably pretty lame, but you'll make different friends. But you probably don't *want* different friends, right? Your friends are great, right? But after awhile you realize nothing is really exciting about going out and watching other people get plastered. It's not even funny to hear their stories. You just think, how freaking pathetic. I have a coworker who likes to do some of the things I like to do... we go thrifting together, do crafts (we work at a craft studio), and sometimes go out to eat. But she always talks about parties or going out drinking or getting wasted. And I am polite and smile and nod, but I just don't GET it. My life isn't necessarily better, but I enjoy my hobbies and chores even. I get a natural high out of working in my garden, snuggling with my pets and being intimate with my husband. Why would I want to dull the wonderfulness of these things in my mind by chemically altering it? Next time they ask you to go out with them, consider saying no. You probably have more fun things to do at home and will see them at work the next day without having had to witness them doing things you disagree with. .-= Ruthie´s last blog ..Checking in =-.

Pheas
Pheas

Okay, I'm not really on board with being nonjudgmental. YMMV, of course. A friend of mine wrote a great post on this topic recently, which he said I could anonymously share, and I thought you might enjoy it or at least find it interesting. I'm pasting it below: It's like that other "bad" word, "discriminate." You can end an argument by saying "that's discrimination!" -- but we're supposed to discriminate. We are supposed to judge. We are required, by the nature of humanity, and for the good of society, to know that one thing is different from another, and to decide that sometimes one of those things is bad. We're also required to acknowledge that sometimes neither of those things is bad (or at least not bad enough to act against). People who can't acknowledge this are intolerant. They're wrong, and I feel no shame in being loudly and publicly right. Hypocrisy is another charge that gets leveled with astonishing wrongness. In Athens in the 4th Century BC, Demosthenes ridiculed Aeschines for taking up politics. Why? Because he was an actor -- an hypokrites -- and could not be presumed to believe anything he said. Hypocrisy is a political act, the wrongful act of professing that which you do not believe. People who violate sincerely held principles are not hypocrites -- they may be weak, evil, stupid, cowardly, or thoughtless, but they're not hypocritical. So, yes, I judge; I discriminate; I sometimes condemn people for doing the same things I've done. I do this because it is right and necessary that I do so. I judge that some reactions are excessive, compared to their causes. I discriminate between those who do harm to others, and those who do not. I condemn those who lose patience, though I do also, because my faults are not a license for others. I do not despise Fred Phelps because he is judgmental and discriminating -- so am I. I do not despise him because he is stupid or violent -- because he isn't. I despise him because he judges and discriminates stupidly, and because he encourages violence against people who do no harm. He pours out disproportionate wrath on those who do not deserve it -- and it is well within my power to discern the difference. I also despise him because I suspect that his outrage is exaggerated; that his display is partly for self-gratification, partly to maintain power over his family/church. That even he does not believe that he is pleasing god. That he is, in fact, a hypocrite.

Leanne
Leanne

I understand exactly where you're coming from. After years of meandering around various versions of veganism, then moving back to ordinary vegetarianism with the reasoning that we'd just moved to Dairy Central (New Zealand), I was new, and I wanted to fit in, and at least by eating normal vegetarian food, the options when I ate out were present, rather than having my veganism shove it face in everyone else's. But dairy doesn't sit well with me, I've put on weight, and I'm just not happy eating the stuff. I get all addicty when cheese is around, and I was healthier and happier on my vegan diet. So now I'm going back to my vegan diet. And one step further - I'm going to that version taught by Joel Fuhrman called "nutritarianism", which is based on whole, seasonal fruit and veggies. Nothing packaged or processed. No junk. I'll do all right, and then something in me cracks and I'll go help myself to a big bowl of ice cream (we still have some left). And then I feel plain awful. Not just ethically either ;-) But in short, I'm living a life and a diet that no-one else around me seems to live, or want to live, even though it works for me. So I know this has been a long-winded explanation, but what I'm trying to say is, you're not alone. There are others of us out there trying to clean up our acts too. I see what you see. Plastic is bad. Part of the Fuhrman eating pattern's benefits is that we are planning to grow almost all our own food, eliminating virtually all food packaging. :-D But I do feel like the weirdo. I worry about stuff like - does our food and the chemicals in it give us cancer, and did all that seafood I ate fished right out of Hong Kong harbour which was certainly contaminated with every known horrible chemical known to man when I was a teen contribute to my sons autism? I don't have answers. And, in the end, I think the key to living ethically is to remember that the ethics we choose are our OWN ethics. No-one else's. I don't understand how other people can feel 100% comfortable chowing down on a Big Mac, but then, they think I'm a weirdo for even thinking that what I do will make the slightest bit of difference. I guess also part of the key is asking: will these changes make you a happier person, better able to live with your decisions? If the answer is also yes, you're doing allright. Cheers from a member of the weirdo club :-) .-= Leanne´s last blog ..The fruit tree list is out! =-.

Claire
Claire

Ah, I can identify with lots of this - and I feel your pain about the straws. After a holiday in Bali, I lost count of how many times I said "No straw, please", only to be delivered a drink with a freekin straw in it. It happens here in Australia too.. I think some people will never get it about meat, plastic and chemicals; although attitudes are changing compared to what they were... 20 years ago (I am 35) I would have whipped though several bottles of SLS laden shampoo per year that came oozing out of a plastic bottle that I didn't, or couldn't, at the time recycle. These days I've shunned shampoo in favour of making my own shampoo bars from organic ingredients and would walk across broken glass to recycle any plastic I have to buy (maybe not that far, but I'd try :)). It makes me shudder to think of all the plastic packaging I was responsible "back then". My red pill has been realising the volume of synthetic chemicals mixed with water consumers are sold in the name of smelling good and the extent to which companies like Nestle reach into the every day life of almost every human on the planet. One you start to read labels on your food & cosmetics as to whats in it and who made it, I think it can start to become overwhelming and annoying, and the want to avoid the corporate machine that churns out such unsustainable crap can becomes almost obsessive for me! Keep it up though, what drives companies to change their packaging & sustainability is consumers avoiding buying their crap along with telling them why... but then I dont need to tell you that! Being as green as you can with your friends and family can also have a postive impact, be it ever so small.... me whinging to my dad about caged eggs has made him buy "free range", and thats a "massive victory" as hes definately off the "old school".

Meg
Meg

It's really tough sometimes being around people who just don't "get" it. I try not to be judgmental, at least of people (being judgmental about choices is fair game, imho). Still, sometimes I want to look people in the eye and go, "Do you just not care that you actions hurt others?" Of course, I know that I'm FAAAAR from perfect, even though I try a lot. But I at least know that I do try and am getting better about a lot of things. I do try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but talking with some people you know pretty well where they stand. It's more the "I don't give a shit" attitude that bothers me, or the hypocrisy of people who are always talking bad about the crap other people do, but don't even think about how what they do is so similar. For example, a lot of people in the U.S. are SOOOOO appalled by people in other countries who eat whales, or horses, or cats, or dogs. But, they don't see a problem eating other animals and even think people in India who wouldn't eat beef are nuts. I hear stuff like that all the time, often with a racist and/or xenophobic attitude. Then there's people bragging about only eating "dolphin-safe" tuna. *eye rolls* I guess everyone has their favorite animals. Anyhow, my husband and I have been saying that watching Earthlings was the "red pill" for us. That's how we describe it to others, too. That's what really sealed our decision to go vegan, and it doesn't even cover everything (just the tip of the iceberg). But, once we realized the cruelty of even milk and eggs -- even from the "best", most "humane" farms, we just couldn't intentionally and unnecessarily contribute to that or any other form of animal exploitation. And yeah, we "knew" a lot of the facts before, but there's a difference between just knowing something and really understanding and empathizing with others. If/when you wish to take that red pill: http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=119