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The Vegetarian World Forum

THE VEGETARIAN No. 3 Vol. 3 - AUTUMN 1949 pp.14-15:

Kaj Dessau

IF we believe in the truth and validity of our cause, if we are willing to fight for it, to make it count in the life of nations, then our first duty must be to investigate in a most searching and unbiased manner whether the vegetarian organisations in their present set-up are at all capable of influencing wide strata of the population.

For the man in the street must be given some very strong reason if he is to turn vegetarian and change his own and his family's life to such a radical extent. It often takes great force of character, and even ruthlessness, to carry out such an undertaking. The ethical motive will not always be easy to maintain, because most churches and denominations do not accept it. The economic argument will not prove its worth until later when the new way of living has been thoroughly worked out in practice. The health motive, on the other hand, is apparent and directly tempting, and is there for every one to see and grasp.

So let us suppose that our man in the street gets into contact with a vegetarian organisation for enlightenment and help, that he attends its meetings, reads its periodical bulletin and buys the pertinent literature. What is he seeking? Health - in body and soul! Greater vitality! Better economy! A clearer understanding of life and its laws! Spiritual self-improvement!

If our man in the street is disappointed by what he sees and hears in the vegetarian organisation, we cannot really blame him. For as long as vegetarians are not capable of building a better race endowed with greater stamina, with, a finer way of thinking, with gentler hearts, they will never succeed in winning enough friends for their cause. They themselves must furnish the living proof! He who has seen that radiant aura with which true health and harmony surrounds a person knows that this is so - and realises that here lies the only road to possible victory.

AT present the vegetarian societies are not organised in such a way that any contribution they could make to the community would be of lasting value. Their programme is couched in terms of high idealism. True. But their desire to improve man's lot will remain an empty shell as long as they are incapable of initiating and implementing great and good action that makes people stop and think! Their activities are not on a lofty enough level. Internal quarrels about matters which seem rather unimportant from the point of view of the whole cause, divide their ranks. They fall victims to narrowmindedness where broadmindednes is not only a virtue, but an absolute necessity, if the work is to bear fruit.

No, the vegetarian societies are not properly equipped to take up the fight which is awaiting us to-day. Moreover, only a very small number of them have funds available in any considerable amount, and only one or two have their own offices with a permanent staff. But how can we possibly plan to advance in battle against a moneyed majority of serried ranks as long as there is no capital at hand for the fray, and no means available to procure the permanent aid of good forces?

The principal task must be to give people the chance to understand what vegetarianism actually stands for, what it will fight for. But not one person in a thousand gets this chance.

Even within the ranks of the vegetarians themselves there are many who are not clear in their own minds about the vast change which the transition to a natural way of living would bring about in our social structure.

A dynamic force is latent in the idea of vegetarianism; many of our foremost opponents feel this, and act accordingly! That is why we must prepare ourselves for the fray.

THE vegetarian movement has arrived at the crossroads. Its hour of destiny is at hand. It must choose. Will it continue the modest existence which was all very well a century ago - or will it gird itself for action and meet the challenge of Life? Will it set new goals for itself and build up an organisation permitting it to help those thousands upon thousands who are waiting for health and vital harmony?

Vegetarianism must become a real force in the life of nations; it must, by its own example, point the way for others. A civilisation which makes impossible a complete, direct and permanent contact with those forces of nature which determine all life on our planet must die. Such is the law. Vegetarianism accepts it and knows that no compromise is possible. Incomplete contact can bring only incomplete life. Would it not be the height of folly to put up with that?

Has there ever been a time when our contribution to the cause was more needed, or the opportunity for making it, greater?

It seems as if everything to-day were a call to action The results of science increasingly confirm the truth embodied in our teachings; the failure of a conservative medical profession to stop the ravages of disease becomes more and more evident, and the grave political developments in the world bring the nations closer to the moment when, perforce, they will be obliged to use their common sense, change from outmoded agricultural forms, and feed their crops to people - in place of cattle!

We have knowledge enough; literature enough; experience enough; there is no need to await the outcome of great experiments, or hope for new discoveries. And the sources we use in our work sun, air, water, fruit, and the green leaf, are available to us in inexhaustible quantities

We lack the financial means, it is true. Our till is empty, and we want to conquer the world! But the whole human race is writhing in pain to-day. Death has become so early a guest in every home, egotism stalks so mercilessly among men, and life has been turned into such a senseless caricature that the world cannot leave unaided those who selflessly, and with authority, will work to bring about a clear and integrated plan, a plan which will open the road to Nature's healing forces and render to Life its true countenance.
We do not know our own strength; we do not know how many hidden friends we have. For we have never rallied all who favour our ideas into one firmly-built, nation-wide organisation.


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