On the Accusation of “Self-Righteousness”
People who fight for causes are not unfamiliar with being labeled “self-righteous”.
In fact, we hear it all the time, ad nauseum.
Being accused of self righteousness is to be expected, though, as much as it is painful to hear.
That’s because someone fighting for justice is going to ruffle a LOT of feathers.
People don’t like to think they might be wrong about something.
I don’t like it much, either.
When I confronted my own hypocrisy–saying I loved animals but still eating animal products that were derived from cruelty and death–it was not a nice reflection in the mirror.
Funny thing is that I never felt the message of veganism was “self-righteous” simply because I knew it was coming from people who were not motivated by ego or self-satisfied smugness–they were (and are) genuinely horrified by the way animals are treated all around the world and wanted to get people to see the truth so that the harm could be stopped.
The definition of “self-righteous” reads like this: “having or characterized by a certainty, especially an unfounded one, that one is totally correct or morally superior.”
Now, when the slave owners heard the ones who fought to end slavery speak out against it, they no doubt saw the abolitionists as self-righteous.
After all, the ones against slavery were saying that owning slaves was wrong and that it was morally superior to treat all human beings with dignity.
How dare these people question slaveowner morality?
Were the ones who fought slavery trying to be smug about their stand against it or were they simply saying, this is wrong?
It certainly was not an unfounded moral stand.
The ones who accuse the vegan movement of being “self-righteous” should pause for a moment and ask themselves: do they themselves feel morally superior to a dog-fighter?
Do they feel morally superior to someone who beats and abuses his pets?
Do they feel morally superior to the person who trophy hunts?
I think the answers speak for themselves.
The truth is that just about every person on earth that takes a moral stand about anything feels it’s the right stand.
The question is: is it a compassionate stand? Is it a viewpoint of mercy and love?
Hurling the label of self-righteous at those fighting to end animal cruelty is a way of shutting out the message and thereby dismissing the messenger as nothing more than a preachy do-gooder who makes them angry and defensive.
I do believe the message of veganism should not be delivered by screaming and demeaning others, but I also believe it’s a moral stand that cannot be denied by those who have compassion for animals.
I never want to come across as smug and arrogant about my ethical view on how we should treat animals.
But if I must endure being called “self-righteous” because I dare to stand up for animals who cannot defend themselves, then so be it.