Sunday, March 30, 2008

evaluating my impact


I'm not quite sure what to do with the realizations about my personal impact that have been trickling down into my consciousness over the past few weeks. They're ruffling me.

First of all, I love my job! It's always interesting (often downright exciting), pays really well, matches my unique rhythms and proclivities, and introduces me to fascinating new people all the time. I'm very, very lucky.

Problem is, there's a lot about my work that is in direct opposition to the vegan lifestyle - and my life, as most folks' does, revolves in many ways around my work. It's going to be very difficult to reconcile.

It starts with the fact that what I do, pure and simple, sells things to people. It drives consumer culture. It convinces people to throw their resources to procure things they don't necessarily need. Things that are bad for them. And what I do makes them look good, through the trickery and deft deception crafted by a large group of seasoned experts.

Then there's the meat bit. I, personally, order enough meat per job to feed hundreds of people. And much of this meat is purchased with the understanding that it will go uneaten - for show, to demonstrate that we're taking excellent care to provide for the client's spoken and unspoken desires.

The other week, I had to order Chan Dara for twelve people, even though the client said they wouldn't be staying for lunch. When they (of course) took off, those of us that were left ate a pathetically small amount of the spread. Nibbling on my tofu pad thai, I stared out over tray after tray of beef satay, garlic mango chicken, and pork somethingorother. I got it in my head to say something, and mentioned to my boss - who's a friend, and a really awesome human being - that all I could think about was the number of dead animals on the table, and the sad lives they'd led up until they got here, and the fact that we were just going to be throwing them all into the dustbin out back to rot in a fetid landfill.

"Oh, come on, Annette," he said. "They were dead before they got here."

Man, oh man.

I've hawked a television show where the guy does very little but grossout animal eating. I've hawked vacuum-packed, preservative-drenched meat-and-cheese packs intended for kids' school lunches. Yikes.

Then again, I've done an MS fundraising campaign, promoted a drug that could easily save hundreds of thousands of girls from cervical cancer, and done a couple of spots to promote a health-care reform that would protect small businesses while ensuring that their employees are covered.

While I mull it, I've been taking baby steps to strike a balance. I set about reducing waste as far as possible. I explain my choices to those that ask. But there's still a part of me that searches to know how to do what's right when so much is wrong.

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