The Frustrating Optimism of Inertia

People are funny.

We get comfortable in our circumstances and way of life. We settle in to the environment we’re in, resistant to changes — sometimes even those that are likely to markedly improve our lives. In general, we tend to prefer to keep things the way they are. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Some people are different — seemingly addicted to change, unable to settle down — but many of us, including me, don’t like to rock the boat.

This is a large part of why I understand why people don’t go vegan upon learning all of the requisite information about the horrors of animal agriculture. People don’t like change. They want to be left alone.

That’s frustrating. People are enabling the perpetuation of incalculable suffering because they, quite literally, are just too lazy. They don’t care enough. But it’s not just frustrating — there is another side to the coin, one that might make us a little optimistic.

The ball is rolling, I think. I’ve written recently why I feel that veganism is winning. 2019 has been an incredible year, what with the explosion of vegan alternatives in fast food restaurants and a general increase in discussions about veganism. I suspect — and hope — that this momentum will continue.

And if it does, there’s another physical force that, this time, will be on our side: inertia.

It would be extraordinarily difficult for me to stop being vegan now. Contrary to stereotypes that vegans are ascetic, that we secretly crave meat, or, even worse, that we actually secretly eat meat and animal products, becoming a non-vegan is at least as much of a drastic change as is going vegan in the first place.

Placing this on a larger scale, we have reason to believe that a society marching towards veganism — as the optimists among us suspect is the case right now — will by the same token be marching away from non-veganism. That is, by the time we have a vegan society (or something close to it) — whatever that may look like — leaving it would seem just as preposterous, or even more so, as a vegan society sounds to the average person today.

This is the frustrating optimism of the human condition. People become set in their ways, unwilling to change. But if we’re heading towards a better world, that stubbornness just might prevent us from rolling back to our old ways. We just have to get there first.

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