Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the colours in between…

Every week, we drive about 40 minutes south to a gorgeous little town tucked into the hills where our tennis lessons are held. It's a long way to go, but we love the view and the green opening up in front of us, the tranquility…and the cows. These cows are the reason we became vegetarian, so we have a very soft spot for all of them.

Anyway, the other thing I love about the drive are the talks we have. The view all around, and the long drive seem to open up a glorious, free space for really discussing "life, the universe and everything" (oh, and all the other things in between :-) ).

One week I got to hear about the Spartans, from my son who'd just learned about them in his Usborne Encyclopedia of World History. Another week, we talked about Buddhism and faith. We've been talking about the election a lot, and sometimes we just say what we love about our friends. But last week's conversation was so interesting I had to write it down in my homeschool journal afterwards. And today, it occurred to me that I could post it here too.

So here it is:

On the way to the Sweet Hillside Town Where We Play Tennis, the kids and I saw our regular cows.

We always say, "Hello, cows we won't be eating!" We got talking about how cute they were, and how we didn't like thinking of them ending up as food.

Then the notion of taking a calf away to save its life came up.

I said, "Yeah, but that would be stealing."

"But," said my son, "They steal too; they steal the cow's life, so this wouldn't be as bad."

So began a looooong discussion about the concepts of "good and bad," and "wrong and right."

First we talked about how doing something illegal or "wrong" can seem right in someone's mind.

I told the kids about how people used to use (and probably still do use) animals for testing cosmetics, and how protesters would come and steal the animals to save them. Then I talked about how animals are still used for scientific experiments, to test out new medicines, medical approaches, and machines. Was it "wrong," to do that or was it "right"?

On the one hand, I said, the animals suffer and that doesn't seem right.

My son said, "And there are plenty of people in the world to test things on."

I said, "Yes, but you're not allowed to kill or hurt humans."

My son thought it was really unfair that you were allowed to kill or hurt animals.

So we talked about how, on the other hand, people can now live longer because new medicines and machines etc have been tested to make sure they work, like cancer drugs, and pacemakers in hearts.

After explaining what a pacemaker was, and did, I said, "If I was the one who needed the pacemaker to live, I might be okay with it being animal tested first. But when I think about the animals suffering, the big picture of it, I don't feel okay with it."

We talked about how some things sometimes really don't have a clear answer. Sometimes there is no wrong or right, there's just how you see things and how you feel, and all the grey (and rainbow!) areas between black and white.

It was getting very deep.

So then my son suddenly said, "Yeah. If you put a cow's heart into a person, the cow wouldn't be happy. As for the person; they'd be going around saying, Moo!"

And the conversation got very silly after that!

That was last week's Big Talk. We laughed, got to tennis where our friends were waiting, and had a lovely day.

We're off again in a little while, to drive past 'our' cows to the Sweet Hillside Town we have come to cherish.

I wonder what we'll talk about today?


  1. What a great space to connect! I love those d & m sessions. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Exactly! Smart kid! I think DS11 and I will watch this week's BTN on iview for an explanation (and *I* need it too!).



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