“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo
“Tell them to get a job,” a well-paid, corporately employed friend interrupts as I politely tell yet another tele-fundraiser to email me more information.
But after countless calls ending in awkward goodbyes because of his draconian tirades, I’m starting to think he might just be right.
It’s not that he doesn’t support the cause for a healthy, compassionate world, he just thinks we’ve been going about it wrong.
Since we know the world is largely moved by mega corporations, he claims, we should be focusing on getting our guys to the top. It’s not a new concept.
In The Rise of the Power Vegans, Joel Stein describes how moguls like Steve Wynn, Russel Simmons, Bill Clinton and other equally powerful people (men, interestingly enough) have embraced the label once ridiculed as exclusively hippie (not that there’s anything wrong with that). As a side note, ladies, Stein does acknowledge that many of these transitions to compassionate, healthy living involved the influence of a woman as the Prime Mover.
Having a vegan – one who adheres to the lifestyle for any reason – in a position of power drives change with fluidity just not found through our hard-earned, rocky court battles that are in constant threat of reversal.
When Steve Wynn tells his executives to offer vegan options – like quality, tasty, maybe-this-vegan-thing-isn’t-so-bad food – in his restaurants in Vegas casinos like the Bellagio and Mandalay Bay, they ask how many. When I ordered a veggie pizza a few nights ago from the local pizzeria with no cheese, the owner asked me “why bother?”
That delicious pizza did little to lift me out my discouragement. Was I fighting a losing battle? Perfectly wonderful people all over the world shoveling the rotting corpses of tortured sentient beings with every ability to experience suffering – and joy – in the same capacity as my own children not even giving a second thought to the horror of their act.
I vilify these huge livestock corporations for the violent death machines they are, but somebody has to keep them working. The factory farm Pontius Pilates can’t wash their hands of the violence they have perfected, but their decisions are based on the votes the populace makes with every meal they consume.
As I sunk deeper into my misery at the prospect of having to hold the majority of the people I love partially responsible for the two billion animals killed for meat every week in the world, I opened an email from my infamously pro-MB A friend.
I’d never heard of former Citibank Vice President Philip Wollen, but if I had I doubt a small rebuke from an inconsequential pizzeria owner could have inflicted in me any flicker of discouragement.
This 10-minute clip of his speech at the St. James Ethics and Wheeler Centre debate on whether animals should be off the menu is phenomenal. His ravenous passion was only surpassed by his logic and Truth. Wollen’s speech was like a double shot of espresso straight to the soul.
Wollen asks for a David to lead the 600 million vegetarians in the world against the Goliath meat industry and the other “raucous huntin’, shootin’, killin’ cartels who believe that violence is the answer – when it shouldn’t even be a question.”
He obliterates his meat industry opponents in the debate, among other comments, with one quote from Upton Sinclair: “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.”
Wollen’s charity extends from animals to children, the ill, the environment and the youth. Mrs. Maneka Gandhi wrote that he must have landed on Earth from a UFO because “they simply do not make humans like him anymore,” in an Indian newspaper article.
The only thing I don’t get is why he’s calling on a David to step forward when judging by the reaction to this speech, anyone who cares about human health, the environment, alleviating poverty, worldwide peace and animal rights would be willing to follow this charismatic and reclusive leader.
Before watching this debate, I would never have said I would encourage my children to pursue success in corporate America. But maybe this is the best way to facilitate moving the world toward the one most religions agree was paradise, one in which the lion (us in this case) lay down with the lamb.
Because for Wollen, “Peace is not just the absence of war. It is the presence of Justice.”
We need more people like Wollen running these large corporations that move the global economy. Money talks, and there’s no better guarantee of changing the world for the better than making it financially profitable. If you can’t beat them, convert them.
Photo by Wolfgang Staudt