Listen to the Screams

By being vegan for as long as I have (and vegetarian a few years before that), about 5000 fewer animals were harmed and killed by my lifestyle.

But since I blogged about this aspect of my lifestyle (including writing my longest article ever, called How to Be Vegan), I’ve since influenced hundreds (if not thousands) more people to try vegetarianism or veganism for months or years or to adopt such a lifestyle permanently. So the combined impact of going vegan and publicly sharing what I learned is likely beyond 1,000,000 animals by now. That’s based mainly on feedback people have shared with me over the years.

And then since many of those people I influenced have also influenced others in similar ways, some of them very actively, the total ripples are probably somewhere in the millions of animals… and still going.

Maybe this impact is a drop in the bucket relative to the 50 billion animals killed for food each year, but one drop can still create ripples. And of course we could identify more ripples such as the resource savings like water and electricity, the reduction in emissions, etc.

When we create a change for personal reasons, we often don’t see how far the ripples of personal change will extend beyond ourselves.

And similarly, when we don’t change ourselves, we don’t get to see the positive ripples that could have come into existence, if only we’d taken a few more steps.

What’s most personally meaningful to me about this aspect of my lifestyle, however, is the internal shift it created within me and some other ripples created by that shift.

What many people don’t realize is that if I hadn’t gone vegan more than 2 decades ago, I wouldn’t have started my personal development blog 15 years ago. I wouldn’t have written articles in an effort to be helpful. I wouldn’t have cared enough to do something like that. Doing this kind of work takes way more heart energy than I used to have. The voice of caring just wasn’t loud enough or strong enough to motivate this much action or this long of a commitment.

My sense of caring about people is inextricably linked to caring about animals. What may seem counter-intuitive though is that I also care more about non-vegans than I used to. You might think that the opposite would be true. Wouldn’t going vegan make me feel more disconnected from non-vegans? After all, such people hurt animals, which I care about.

As a vegan I feel more emotional pain than I use to. But I also feel more love and connection than I used to. They come as a package deal.

When someone hurts animals, for food or otherwise, I feel the pain of that. It stings my heart. When I’m at my best, I don’t try to numb myself to such feelings. I allow them to have their say. I see those feelings as important. They remind me that I care. I remember what it was like not to care about such things and to feel no sting at all, and I have no desire to return to such an existence. I like having stronger feelings of caring and connection, and I accept that a heightened sensitivity to violence is part of that.

Caring is difficult but also beautiful. Truth be told, seeing ripples that reduce the number of animals harmed and killed doesn’t do much for me motivationally. Maybe it’s nice karmically, but I feel the most alignment juice from the heightened sense of caring.

Going vegan many years ago seems to have created some kind of permanent shift in my vibe that I can’t undo – and wouldn’t want to undo. One of the scariest things to me in life would be to return to a state of emotional numbness and to forget what it feels like to care a lot.

Even though it can be hard, I like being sensitive to the pain of other beings. I like that I can sense the vibes of suffering, like a radio transmission that never turns off. Those signals are so much louder and clearer than they once were. There is a lot of suffering in the world, and a lot more of it is coming from animals than humans. As much as we can point to human suffering, we’d need to hurt and kill 7x the planet’s human population every year just to match what animals are going through. And we’d have to achieve that population through a massive increase in rape to match the forced reproduction those animals endure.

If you’re sensitive to vibes, turn your heart towards human suffering and listen for a while. Then turn your heart towards animal suffering, and notice how that signal sounds. When I do this, I certainly feel some sorrow on the human side. The animal side is overwhelming sad though; I can’t listen to it for more than 30 seconds without crying.

It may sound odd to label this sensitivity as beautiful, but somehow it just seems accurate. Because of our ears, we may be disturbed by unpleasant noise now and then, but isn’t it worth the price if it means we can hear beautiful music and communicate with each other?

So many of my articles were written from a desire to be helpful, often because I picked up a signal of human sadness, struggle, stuckness, or confusion – or even curiosity or wonder. Somehow those signals are just so loud and clear most of the time. All I have to do is listen, and the writing and speaking takes care of itself. When the heart is aligned, the brain does what it’s supposed to do.

So many issues that I struggled with in the past just seemed to resolve themselves when I listened more with my heart instead of always trying to plan, strategize, and force things with my head. The voice of caring provides such a beautiful form of guidance. So much clarity flows from the simplicity of caring.

When I think back to my pre-vegan days, it feels like a time of darkness. I just had no idea how emotionally numb I was back then… and how vibrationally unaware and insensitive I was. I couldn’t even fathom what more was eventually going to be possible. What I now label as numbness or darkness, back then I would have simply called feeling normal or neutral. I had no idea how quiet my “normal” world was back then.

Today what I consider normal is to feel an abundance of vibrational and emotional signals. These signals are always flowing, circulating, and broadcasting. People want help. Animals want even more help.

One of the strongest human signals I hear these days is a desire to feel connected. I sense so much loneliness, aloneness, and disconnection. Many people have become so numb and desensitized, yet they still yearn for something more – something they can’t even define. Some part of them wants to be embraced by love, connection, healing, understanding, acceptance, appreciation, and acknowledgement. Even though the world is more connected than ever tech-wise, today’s outlets are letting people down on the emotional side. It’s ironic that the more connected we become, the less connected many people feel.

I think part of the solution is to listen more to pain… not just your own pain but the pain signals that are constantly being broadcast. Pain signals are usually louder than pleasure, joy, and delight. Happiness purrs while pain screams.

If you want to hear the loudest pain signals on earth, go within, tune into your heart, and then listen with your heart to the signals being broadcast by animals right now. Listen to the 23 billion chickens on the planet right now… or the 1 billion cows… or the 780 million pigs. Listen to the ones that are slated for your consumption if you feel entitled to some of their bodies. Can you hear what they’re broadcasting? What do you sense when you tune in and just listen for a while?

Sensitivity to pain is also sensitivity to so much more – love, beauty, inspiration, creativity, fun, and so many other frequencies that make this life precious and worthwhile.

It’s easy to find conscious people with a variety of dietary lifestyles, vegan or non-vegan alike. But where I tend to see mostly agreement is in terms of how animals are currently being treated by humans. It’s hard to find people who consciously agree with our current practices.

If you consciously choose to continue participating in the treatment of animals as products, I suggest that you stay tuned into their pain. If you’re going to continue opting in, I think it’s wiser and more beneficial to you to feel the hurt and the pain as opposed to numbing yourself. Feel the ripples you’re supporting. Invite and accept the future pain of the thousands of animals who have yet to be hurt and killed from your actions. Feel the ongoing rapes and forced pregnancies to spawn these animals. Don’t run from this reality. Don’t tune out from it. Don’t try to pretend that this pain isn’t real. These are loud signals. Listen to them and tune in.

Listen whenever you purchase animal products. Listen while you cook. Listen with every bite. Let these signals have their say. Let them speak to you honestly and directly. Hear the screams again and again and again.

And each day, choose consciously what you’ll eat and how you’ll live.

I know… it takes courage to do this. It’s a growth experience, regardless of where you land afterwards.

If you can listen to the screams each time and still maintain your current lifestyle, then great – you’re aligned. If you can listen to the screams and feel compelled to change your lifestyle, also great… you can create the alignment you desire. But if you can only maintain your lifestyle by tuning out or trying to numb yourself to the reality and the ripples, that’s a glaring misalignment to address, wouldn’t you say? If you’re going to participate in the flow of hurting, raping, and killing animals, then do so consciously. Don’t go dark or numb just because you dislike the screams. If you’re okay with contributing to ripples of suffering, them the screams should serve as a palatable sauce that makes your meals richer and more meaningful. This can be your way of honoring the thousands of animals who sacrifice their lives for you. Don’t discount or diminish their pain. Appreciate what they’ve done for you because of the high price they repeatedly pay to appear on your plate.

If you’re going to contribute to the screams, then appreciate the screams. If an animal had to give its life or its milk or eggs to please your palate, don’t you think those animals deserve some appreciation at the very the least? When you tune into the screams, beam back your best vibrational thank you.

If you consciously choose to prey on the weak, appreciate the weakness that empowers you to do so. Consciously own the part of you that feels aligned with thoroughly dominating other living beings.

If you can do that, you need never be fearful of vegans. You can stand firm and simply own what you’ve decided is right for you. You ought to be able to make statements such as these:

  • I feel aligned with dominating weaker beings and placing their lives in service to me.
  • I feel aligned with the efficient breeding, feeding, and killing of animals for my benefit.
  • I feel aligned with contributing to the pain of animals.
  • The pain that animals endure enhances the appreciation of my meals.

If such statements feel misaligned to you and you can’t see yourself embracing such an attitude, you’ve got some realignment work to do. And of course if you can embrace such attitudes, they’ll create similar ripples throughout your human relationships as well.

In short, if you’re going to cause pain, it’s important to love the pain you’re causing. Consciously acknowledge, accept, and embrace the pain as an honest and authentic part of your lifestyle. That pain is real. That pain happens every day. Stay aligned with the truth.

Generating pain is a normal and routine part of the package of treating animals as products. If you think it’s okay to treat animals as products, then get yourself aligned with contributing to ongoing ripples of pain. And listen to the screams since that’s part of your truth.

If you don’t listen to the screams of the world, you won’t be sensitive to the real depths of joy and connection either.

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Read Listen to the Screams by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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