Dog Meat, Piracy, and Something About Business

 

Human beings have a remarkable capacity to take things that are related to each other and stick them in separate airtight compartments so they don’t rub up against each other and cause them much pain. We’re all familiar with the man who goes to church on Sunday morning, believing that he loves God and God’s creation and his fellow human beings, but who, on Monday morning, has no trouble with his company’s policy of dumping toxic waste in a local stream. He can do this because he has his religion in one compartment and his work in another… It is a very comfortable way to operate, but integrity it is not.

The word integrity comes from the same root as integrate. It means to achieve wholeness, which is the opposite of compartmentalize. Compartmentalization is easy. Integrity is painful. But without it there can be no wholeness. Integrity requires that we be fully open to the conflicting forces and ideas and stresses of life.

– M. Scott Peck, Further Along the Road Less Traveled

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about integrity lately, and below I want to share with you a few things running through my brain. First though, I’d like to emphasize that I definitely don’t consider myself to be some master of integrity. I believe we’re all hypocrites to some extent, regularly choosing to turn a blind eye to our own inconsistencies, or else being completely unaware of them in the first place.

And that’s okay. We can’t be perfect. Hell, even Scotty P above struggled with integrity. He wrote so much in his lifetime about truth and love and trust, but apparently cheated so frequently during his 40-year marriage that his wife eventually divorced his ass.

So methinks this life dealio is too big and complex for us to truly wrap our tiny minds around everything and act with integrity 24/7. My aim is simply to do the best that I can and hopefully become a little less hypocritical every day.

Alright, let’s dive in…

Eating dog

I believe there’s a disconnect there when folks are perfectly fine with eating cows and chickens but not dogs. To me, that’s like famous people getting away with crimes that regular people would go to jail for; just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they should get special treatment.

So if you’re going to eat meat, I say go for it, but with that choice made you can’t seriously cite morality as your reason for passing up a leg of Lassie.

Along similar lines, I see a disconnect when folks are uncomfortable with hunting but have no problem buying steak and eggs at the supermarket. More often than not, those packaged products come from factory farms where the animals are crammed together and fed unnatural food all their lives. At least that deer your uncle shot lived wild and free before meeting a sudden end.

Now I’m not saying you should go track and kill a wild pig every time you’re jonesing for a pork chop, but I do think you should be at least willing to kill an animal yourself if you’re prepared to eat it. That to me is integrity.

(Hat tip to this post on Milt’s site for getting my wheels turning on the above.)

Piracy (not the Arrrrrgggghhh! kind)

I used to have more than six thousand MP3′s on my computer, all downloaded illegally. A few years back I deleted the entire collection, but today I again find myself with some illegal tracks in my iTunes, and every so often I’ll rip audio from a YouTube video and transfer it to my phone.

My laptop crashed back in January and I lost all the Adobe applications I’d been able to keep from my old 9-to-5. I’d downloaded cracked versions of Photoshop and the like before — literally thousands of dollars worth of software — but this time I decided not to go that route, opting to do without until I could afford the retail price. Still, when friends emailed me serial numbers to unlock the expired trial version of Photoshop, I went ahead and tried them.

Given all the above, it would be fantastically hypocritical of me to condemn piracy, so I’ll try to avoid that. I have become aware though of the compartmentalization I’ve got going on here, and I’ve been striving to move more towards integrity for a while now.

I believe self-employment has helped. Through that I’ve developed a much greater appreciation for the creative act. It feels good when people pay fair price for a product I create or a service I provide. It’s nice to be rewarded for the value you contribute to the world. To ensure I’m acting with integrity then, I should be willing to pay fair price for the value I receive from others. Going back to the Photoshop example, an individual license would cost me $800. Is that a fair price? I think so. That’s some pretty kick-ass software right there. Gimp just doesn’t cut it for me.

I’m also a big believer in the abundance mindset, and trying to save money by using free software or downloading the expensive stuff illegally doesn’t fit with that. How can I expect people to pay top dollar for my products and services when I’m not willing to spend top dollar on something myself? I’m hoping for abundance, but my actions scream scarcity. Integrity: not so much, but I’m working on it.

Investing in others

I’ve held back on signing up for several online courses over the past few months. Part of it was to save money, and part of it was because I held the belief that I could learn more from my own trial and error than I could from any online course. I still think those are pretty good reasons, but I was missing something big.

See, I have my own online course (currently closed to new members, but reopening next week), and not many people have signed up for it since the initial launch back in March. The disconnect is that I was expecting folks to sign up for my course while I was actively avoiding signing up for anyone else’s. Integrity lacking.

I was also missing the whole investment part. When someone signs up for my online course, they’re essentially investing in me, taking a leap and sending the message that they believe in what I’m doing and the value I can provide. As a result, I feel invested in them. They’ve demonstrated that they want me to succeed, and so I can’t help but root for them to succeed, too. As such, I check in with them every so often via email, read and comment on their blogs, and generally just try to help them out however I can. (This is especially true for those folks who really make the most of my course, doing such things as taking recommended action or posting in the forum.)

For some reason it took me a while to realize that I’d receive a similar investment from others when I sign up for and contribute to their courses. There I was trying to form solid connections with some specific people online, without ever actually investing real money in their projects. The message I was sending was, “Hey, I believe in what you’re doing, but not enough to pay for it. Wanna be my friend?”

So now I’m starting to look at online courses as investments. I’m not about to go splash out on a dozen of them, but there are two in particular that I intend to sign up for this month and become deeply involved with. I expect the information in those courses will be phenomenal, but for me the real value will be sending a clear message that I believe in what those folks are doing. The next step will be giving them some good reasons to return the favor.

How’s your integrity hanging?

What do you compartmentalize? Have you identified any areas where your integrity is lacking? As noted at the start of this post, we’re all hypocrites at some level, so don’t go beating yourself up about any disconnect you notice within yourself. Just try to close those gaps a little more every day.

P.S. My latest finance report will be posted this weekend for email subscribers only. In there I detail everything I earned and spent in July, and reveal how much money I have left to my name. To ensure you don’t miss it, scroll down a bit and do the subscribe thing.

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40 Comments

  1. I totally agree with you on the meat eating bit niall, I’ve often wondered how people can eat one animal and feel that it’s wrong to eat another.

    • Thanks, Jacqui! Most people would rather not think about these things because it’s just easier not to. I know resisted thinking too deeply about the meat thing for a long time, but eventually integrity got the best of me in that area.

      Oh, and happy birthday :-)

  2. Wow! This is a great post! You are approaching Altucher territory here!

    The bit about abundance, in particular, has the ring of eternal truth about it. Even in the short time I have been subscribed, I perceive you have achieved greater clarity of purpose and it is showing in your writing.

    I am looking forward to continuing to read your stuff. Thank you.

  3. Well! It’s official. I’ve got a lot of integrity gaps to fill. :/

    I am painfully aware I am just not ready to deal with many of them but I will look at ways to take baby steps.

    Thanks for a great post.

  4. Wow, I really loved this post. I also stopped over at Milt’s blog and found his overall message to be really powerful and if the right people watch his video, it will help put their thoughts into alignment.

    You have me thinking about my own integrity now, but in a different way. For some time I’ve been thinking “Who would want to buy/invest in a course/product created by me when I rarely invest in other people’s creations?” This has held me back from creating something of my own and giving it a go. So your perspective on it is thought provoking.

    Great stuff :)

  5. Great post: honest, deep, and inspirational.

    It makes you feel that if you live your life with more integrity and abundance, nothing is impossible to achieve.

  6. How timely and apropos, Niall . . . my company, as does every year, requires every single employee (including exec board members) to complete a “Code of Conduct” online course, which emphasizes the importance of integrity and ethical behavior. The mandatory nature of the course turns out to be a reaction to strict regulation of public companies which purports to minimize corruption, at least in the U.S.: As long as every employee has successfully completed the course (including a quiz at the end), they can report that back to the SEC and be in compliance with current regulations.

    So when you’re working for yourself, managing yourself, the only regulator is you. We have to be conscious of our own hypocritical/unethical actions ’cause no one else is going to make us take a class on integrity and ethics.

    Unless, of course, you do something extreme enough to go to jail, and that’s an entirely different class on integrity and ethics. ;-)

  7. Hey Niall, I really vibe with this post. I’ve been thinking a lot about the same things recently. After reading my torrented copy of The Celestine Prophecy (favorite novel of all time, highly recommended) I liked it so much I actually bought the book (something I never do) and the two sequels. I then donated some money to some of the blogs that I read and respect and have gotten a lot of value from.

    A few synchronicities happened after that, one of which involved a much larger chunk of money get deposited into my bank account right after making a big donation.

    I’ve been thinking the same way about paying for music. I’d prefer to torrent the music then just make donations rather than buying it from iTunes. Still have yet to make that plunge, but I really believe in supporting those that help make your life better.

    • Right on, Trevor. I’ve actually done similar, as regards paying for something after I had access to it because I found it so valuable. I also like donating to others every now and then, because I know how great it feels when a donation arrives in my inbox.

      And I like to believe in the karma thing, too. What goes around comes around and all that. I think you need to be willing to let go of money for it to flow back into your life. No give, no get.

      Thanks for the comment.

  8. I love this post! I too have been thinking about the importance of integrity a lot lately and was thinking about the best way to get my thoughts across in a post and then I read this which resonates with me massively – thank you! I particularly like your point about not displaying integrity 24/7 but striving to have more of it in your life and doing the best we can – I totally relate :)

  9. This is your best post that I’ve read so far. Compartmentalization is actually on my list of topics to tackle on my own blog. The meat stuff I agree with 100%, even though I eat meat.

    How is it that people can believe one thing and also believe its opposite? The answer is that they don’t believe both in the same moment. Doctors do this constantly. Their beliefs change according to what suits them in the moment. Is correlation “proof?” Well, it all depends whether or not a correlation supports or attacks the products they recommend.

    A great follow-up post would be how to maintain personal integrity when having to deal with assholes and people who make your life as difficult as possible every day.

    • Thanks, Dean. Did you see this recent TED talk? I love the story the speaker tells about Archie Cochrane, especially the way he presented those results to the doctors. Classic.

      As for dealing with assholes, what works for me is simply staying away from and ignoring them if they’re zapping too much of my energy.

      • Oh, yeah! Great link. Just watched it. I’d never heard of this guy or site. The site looks very useful, I bookmarked it.

        Let’s say you get screwed by a government employee. Should you pursue justice, or just let it go? I was referring to people you can’t ignore because you must deal with them for something or because they impose themselves on you.

      • Ah, I get what you’re saying now. Tough one! I’m usually inclined to let those things go, but I sometimes think I should take more responsibility. Because if I turn a blind eye to such shitty work by a government employee, then more people are gonna get screwed over by them down the line.

        Still, it can take a lot of time and effort to deal with that stuff thoroughly, and I’d rather devote my time and energy to other things. Perhaps just a formal complaint or a word to a supervisor would be a better way to deal with, rather than any kind of formal action.

  10. This one zapped me, Niall. I love M Scott Peck, and his agonized honesty about the human condition. “Integrity” is like the Jewish shalom: not only right-living, but a sense of personal and communal wholeness. I’m nicked by the idea of money and this subcontinent in the wires–it’s started as a hobby, but I’ve gotten to read the lives–and so partake in a mutual multicontinental adventure. I know it’s worth money, but I don’t know how it has “integration” in my life yet.

    You’ve got me thinking, Mr Doherty ;D

  11. Ufffffffffffffffffffffffffffff.

    The dog thing haha. I am one of them! I love dogs and actually prefer them to humans, but alas – I eat meat. I justify it with the fact that I’d be an either bigger hypocrite by saying “oooooh I just love dogs so much,” just before tucking into a German Shepherd salad!

    I also think dogs have more uses than a chicken (AKA companionship, household pet etc.)

    Of course, I could just be full of shit haha! I honestly don’t know about the whole vegetarian thing. A few people who know me well are predicting I may turn veggy in the future, due to my conflicting beliefs!

    • You should give vegetarian a try, man. It might not work for you, but you’ll never know until you give it a shot. I actually found going veg pretty easy. It only gets tough when you start cutting out dairy.

      Also, I still consider my 30-day veg trials to be the best life experiments I’ve ever done. I grew so much from them.

  12. I’m a big hypocrite in many ways. I hope that awareness and willingness to admit it at least gives me a few points of integrity.

    As for eating meat, I feel it lowers my vibration simply because I know the lifespan of the animal was shortened (and the life it lived was most likely horrible and filled with terror right before its death), yet I continue to eat meat. I was a vegetarian for 4.5 months in 2010 and I actually felt more energized, clean, and efficient. It’s only a matter of time until I switch back… perhaps even to vegan or raw foodist!

    • Nice one, Kevin. I think that awareness is huge, most people don’t never even get to that point. Methinks I’ll give raw food a try some time, too. Not sure how well it would work on the road though (tough enough being a traveling vegan!).

      Cheers!

  13. Thanks for this post. Very inspiring. I get hung up daily on my own hypocrisy. I’m completely plant based and care deeply about our planet and the sketchy direction we may be headed towards scares me silly. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I look at my own actions and how much more I can do but don’t, or how much more I can give but don’t. What helps me is to make better decisions when the opportunity arises. Whenever I am confronted with a situation where I can take a better more

    Meaningful direction, I try my darndest to! Living in a purposeful way is empowering in a positive way. It makes complete sense that minimalism and vegetarianism/veganism are very much intertwined.

    Thank you for your own honesty about integrity. It allows me to feel more honest with myself somehow!

    • Thanks, Tali. I’m glad this resonates with you. I also feel overwhelmed sometimes, feeling like there’s so much more I could be doing to live a better life and help more people. But as long as I’m making a solid effort and moving consistently in the right direction, I know I can’t get too mad at mad at myself :-)

  14. I think your dog meat example is a little off. I eat meat and some meats are more popular and more flavorful than others. Some meats are juicer and a bit more tender than others. If dog meat was readily available at the supermarket, I would try it. If I liked it, I would continue eating it.

    Thing is, dog isn’t served at your local supermarket and I’m not going to protest to get it on the menu. Just like I’m not going to protest for lion meat, zebra meat, hippo meat, cat meat, orangutang meat, tiger meat, etc. If dog meat was tastier and we were in a shortage of meat, I’m sure we’d see it in our store shelves. In any case, I have a couple of choice meats I prefer. I don’t eat pork too often (I don’t like pork meat that much) and I stick to those. I assume most other meat eaters do the same.

    As for killing your own meat, I think that also is a personal choice and most people prefer to outsource the preparation. I don’t shit in a bucket and go bury the waste myself – I pay a sewage fee to the city. Could I do it myself? Sure, but it isn’t very appealing. When I want electricity, I don’t just on the bicycle and start pedaling to get it, I pay a fee to the electric company. Just like when I go to the supermarket to buy meat.

    As for the morality of it? I don’t see it as a moral issue. I mean, you don’t think we got these big fat filled brains by eating plants, do you? Nope…and if you do then I would go beef up (ha ha…a nice pun) on your biology and anthropology.

    Also about having to kill your own meat, I see that as a personal choice and see nothing wrong with paying someone else to do it. I mean, I don’t see vegans and vegetarians out there farming their food for 6 months out of the year…nope, they pay someone to do that for them : )

    • Teo! Thanks for the comment, man.

      I think we’re actually on the same page with a lot of this stuff. I agree that some meats are tastier than others, and that surely factors into why most of the world doesn’t eat dog or rat meat. I have no problem with people passing up on such meats because they don’t like the taste. The disconnect is when they pass up on some meats for so-called moral reasons (e.g. they love dogs, or they think lambs are cute).

      And I agree with your last point, too. I don’t grow my own vegetables or handle my own waste. But if I had to do those things, I wouldn’t face a moral dilemma. Not so for a lot of people who eat meat methinks. Many of them would never be willing to kill a cow or a chicken themselves, but are happy to eat them when they come wrapped in plastic at the supermarket and they don’t have to think about how their dinner came to be. That’s why I have to respect hunters, because they actually pay more respect to the animal before they eat it. They’re not turning a blind eye to the killing part.

      As for the morality thing, I don’t know. I could brush up on my biology and anthropology, but I’m sure I could also find plenty of contrary claims that human brains don’t owe their evolution to meat-based diets. To give one example, there’s the argument that humans don’t have claws or sharp teeth like other carnivorous animals do, so perhaps that’s a sign that we’re not naturally meat-eating creatures. I don’t pay much attention to the claims from either side anymore though. I just do what feels right to me and try to have as much integrity as possible.

  15. Hi, Niall!

    I think it’s just a preference, nothing else. I prefer people to dogs, so I could, probably, eat dog’s meat if nothing else possible. But for now I’m happy with chicken and fish, cows are good, lamb – me personally don’t like.

    I’m not a hunter, cause now people usually hunt just for fun, but I were in a village and saw, how to kill chicken! Hope, I ll be able just in case. I see one problem, as a girl, it’s difficult for me to kill big animal, so, probably, my man should kill them for me? Hope he ll be able ) will ask him!

  16. Logically speaking, I fully agree with your points about the hypocrisy regarding people who would be shocked if you killed a deer but will happily eat venison, or people who will eat cow meat without batting an eyelid but would be horrified at the thought of eating dog meat.

    This is what I told myself a few months ago when I had dog meat for the first time. I quickly ran through the arguments why a dog is better than a cow to justify my unease (more intelligent, commonly kept as a pet, etc.) but to be honest I could not apply those arguments to dog vs pig (who is also intelligent and often kept as a pet). So I ate the dog meat and was relieved to say that I did not like it and I think I won’t eat it ever again.

    I still get a uneasy feeling when I see hairless dog carcasses on the back of a motorbike or a cage full of dogs on the way to the butcher. Logically, I tell myself that I should not be disturbed by this, but in practice there is something there that makes dogs different, even from pigs. I can’t explain it, maybe it is the special friendship that we have with dogs that makes it like a betrayal of trust or something.

    • Thanks for the comment, James. I’m thinking a lot of us Westerners feel that way about dogs because of our upbringing. I imagine many folks raised in India would feel a bit queasy at the cow meat lying in the butcher’s window.

  17. Eating other predators is generally an unnatural behavior except in times of dire need. Bears and wolves may fight over territory and they may scavenge each other’s carcasses if nothing else is around, but they don’t hunt each other as prey.

    Humans tend to follow the same unspoken rules. We eat animals that are firmly labelled “Prey” in the food chain. I have no moral qualms about eating any animal that nature designed to be prey. I am an animal. They are animals. That’s life.

    But I wouldn’t eat any canine or a feline or an ursine. Completely unnatural to do so unless I were starving. I used to work for a big game hunter who had tried all kinds of meat, and he claimed that predator animals just don’t taste very good. Why would they? They didn’t evolve to be eaten. They don’t eat each other so why should we?

    But then when you get to the point of starvation, it becomes a matter of emotional proximity. I could eat a bear if I had to. I could eat a cougar if need be. But I couldn’t eat a dog or a house cat. Or a horse. I’ve known too many. I have a dog and three cats sleeping on my bed right now. I have ten horses outside my window. Friends aren’t food, and thus the families of friends aren’t food. If I had ever formed an emotional attachment to a pig, I’d probably feel the same way about pigs. Honoring your personal emotional attachments is a form of integrity in itself. Sometimes not every thing has to be taken to its logical conclusion.

    But if it must be taken to a logical conclusion, I point back to my original statements which is simply that there is a certain “honor among thieves” in the wild in which evolution seems to have left predators with a general distaste and lack of desire to attempt to eat one another. I – as a predator – share that distaste. And no, I don’t believe my lack of teeth or claws disqualify me from the predatory class because had we not developed the ability to reason out snares and spears for catching prey, then who is to say that we would not have sharper teeth and claws from thousands of years of bringing down prey by hand? My diet consists almost entirely of meat and my own teeth have become quite sharp over time. I could probably kill a small mammal or bird with a properly placed bite. Am I going to? No. Because nature also gave me the ability to devise a more sanitary way or killing my dinner than sinking my teeth into a mouthful of flea-infested squirrel fur.

    I do agree that eating store meat while showing disdain for true hunters (not trophy hunters) is hypocritical. I would be happy to hunt for myself and stock a freezer full of delicious elk meat for the coming year, but nowadays you can’t just grab your gun and shoot some dinner like my grandpa did. An elk tag in Colorado costs hundreds of dollars. Not to mention the needed equipment and game processing fees. It’s just not cost-effective for most people to hunt even if they have the desire/willingness to do so.

    • Love this comment, Chase. Thanks for throwing some new viewpoints into the mix and making me think.

      To play devil’s advocate: Do you think humans can ever evolve beyond the role of predator? Since we can get by just fine these days without eating meat, and a reduction in meat eating helps with environmental problems too, does it make sense to continue killing animals for food?

      • I think – from personal experience – that the need for meat is not something that can be determined across the board. Many people get along just fine without meat in their diet. But does that mean everyone can?

        I don’t eat fruits or vegetables or nuts. My only exceptions are potatoes and a very light brushing of tomato sauce on pizza. Am I picky? Vaguely autistic? Some kind of OCD? I don’t know. I just can’t eat them. I throw up vegetables that I didn’t even know I had swallowed. So I’ve lived on meat and bread for twenty-eight years and according to my doctor I am in perfect health. But it would be absurd for me to decide that human beings don’t need greens anymore just because my body functions properly without them.

        That being said, I do believe there is a dire need for humans to devolve when it comes to how we get our meat. Factory farming is cruel and environmentally harmful and a thoroughly modern invention designed to meet the needs of fast food chains and highly processed forms of meat like frozen dinners. Yuck. This is completely unnecessary and as a species capable of empathy and compassion, we are better than torturing other creatures in the name of cost efficiency. Not even cats make their dinner suffer as much as we do before eating it.

        But as long as demand for meat remains as high as it is now, it will be difficult to change the system. This is why I do encourage anyone who CAN go without meat to do so. If your body doesn’t need it, why eat it? Or why eat it so very often? And why it eat it in such disgusting, processed forms? The less demand there is for meat, the less profitability there will be in factory farms and more local farmers can step in to provide meat in more sustainable, compassionate ways. I’m perfectly happy to pay more money for my meat to know that it was treated much like any game animal in that it had a chance at a natural life, died swiftly, and was processed cleanly, and delivered to my table as freshly as possible. But in order for that to happen then humanity as a whole does need to evolve past our bizarre practice of eating meat for fun (treating chicken nuggets and big macs as snacks, rather then reserving meat consumption for actual, healthy meals). Actually, our bizarre practice of eating anything just for fun.

        • Thanks for the reply, Chase. I have to agree that different people require different diets. Veganism has been working well for me so far, but I’ve met many people who have given it a solid try and ended up feeling very ill, so they rightly quit.

  18. I’ve tried to follow several blogs, eventually I lose interest. I read the 4 hour work week by Tim ferris that several sites have recommended. What makes me uncomfortable about his book and blog and other blogs as well, is that the end goal is self enrichment through money. Tim has done amazing things with his time, competitive tango dancing, motor cycle racing. It seems like many Bloggers comment and link to each other with the goal of monetizing. It feels ingenuine, maybe not quite hypocracy, but close. I keep wondering what would you do with your RTW trip if you didn’t have to work. How would you change the world? Nail, your blog continues to be enlightening with a goal of helping others. You did that great interview in S.F with Everett and Corbett, and one of them (can’t remember which) had the goal of saving the world. Yes, he said that in the interview! I have high respect for putting yourself out there on the blog, and for your work on your course in courage, it’s courage and a willingness to self examine that will truly change the world!

  19. As an adult lifelong vegetarian, I agree with your comments about eating dog meat. It is hypocritical to condemn ‘Asians’ eating dog, while Australians chow down on cows, chickens, and the rest.
    Piracy? Umm, I agree that we should pay for what we consume, but a.) how much money goes to the authors? b.) I disagree with the anti-piracy ‘protection’ added to digital products.