It’s All Within

By Wes Annac, Editor, Openhearted Rebel

I wrote the following for the 268th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.

Income from the guide helps me get by and ensures I can continue to offer free content, and every subscription is appreciated. The option to subscribe is given at the bottom of this post (learn about subscribing with cash/check here).

The answers you seek live within you, in the consciousness that comprises who you are as a human and spiritual being.

We tend to search for fulfillment everywhere but the one place we find it in abundance: in ourselves. We accumulate external things in hopes that they’ll fill the void within, unaware that true fulfillment comes from exploring that sense of emptiness.

Spiritual seekers are no different, as we also avoid the emptiness with external things we believe will increase or enhance our spirituality. Crystals are a good example. We convince ourselves they help our spiritual growth, which they can if we don’t use them to avoid doing the difficult inner work that leads to evolution. Continue reading

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This Reggae Song Reminds Us to Love Life

By Wes Annac, Editor, Openhearted Rebel

Open My Eyes is a song from American reggae group Soldiers of Jah Army, also known as SOJA. Featured on their 2006 album Get Wiser, the song’s slow, smooth reggae groove is infused with a powerful message about loving life no matter how rough it gets.

SOJA is a Grammy-nominated reggae band hailing from Arlington, Virginia. (1) On the band’s website, guitarist and lead singer Jacob Hemphill states that their goal is to speak for the voiceless, the defenseless, and the human race as a whole. (2)

“Our goal as a band is to stick up for the human race. We see the world and we try to make it better in the limited time we have here.” – Jacob Hemphill (2)

Continue reading

Where I’ve Been

For those wondering where I’ve been or why I haven’t been writing articles and responding to emails, I’ve been struggling with a lot of things and my inspiration has been gone.
For various reasons, my plan to start writing daily articles has been continuously stalled.
When I do sit down to write, I find that I have nothing to say. Turmoil in my life has depleted my confidence and left me with nothing significant to share. But all that is (slowly) changing.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, I’ll say that I’m emerging out of one of the darkest and most difficult times in my young life so far. Struggle is a part of life, but my struggles have been intense and seemingly endless.

Continue reading

Awakening in Action (Repost)

By Wes Annac, Editor, Openhearted Rebel

Reposted from August 22nd.

I wrote the following for the 263rd issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.

Income from the guide helps me get by and ensures I can continue to offer free content, and every subscription is appreciated. The option to subscribe is given at the bottom of this post (learn about subscribing with cash/check here).

Spiritual awakening is the greatest gift you can receive, as it makes you aware you are a multidimensional being with a foot in all worlds. It helps you to see that the world is far more surreal than we like to think. Spiritual awakening is a treasure not to be discarded or misused, but cherished.

To “wake up” isn’t enough on its own, however. Once we’re awake, it’s up to us to do something with it. The universe doesn’t hand out enlightenment; we must pursue it and any opportunity for evolution our awakening provides.

We must do something with the gift we’ve been given.

The first question, then, is what to do with your awakening. Do you want to dive headfirst into the pursuit of a higher consciousness, or do you want to use what you’ve learned so far to help others? You could choose to forget about your awakening altogether, but why discard something so valuable?

You’re better off choosing one of the other options. Personally, I choose both.

I use writing to share what I’ve learned with those walking a similar path, and I use music and meditation to grow closer with the inner spirit. Writing also brings me closer to this part of myself, serving the dual purpose of expanding my mind while helping me to help you.

Although writing is undoubtedly a stern mental discipline, it feels good once you get the hang of it and the words start to flow.

Once awake, you can use writing, music, meditation, and plenty of other similar activities to become more aware while helping others do the same. With writing, you can research and share what others have said about the spiritual path or you can go straight to the source: your own mind, heart, and intuition.

The same can be said for if you pursue music, as creativity comes from the heart. The mind certainly has its role to play, but the heart lays the foundation.

In my opinion, the greatest thing you can do with your spiritual awakening is to return to the heart. Let your awakening redefine love as you know it. Awakening makes you aware of love and the importance of sharing it with a world that doesn’t know what it truly is.

Let the heart take center stage in your life. Share love with all, and let your love inspire compassion. After an awakening, your heart will break when you see how many people are suffering across the world. Don’t fear a broken heart. Let it fuel you to change what you cannot tolerate.

War, famine, and poverty are unacceptable. Tyrannical governments and dictatorships controlling, watching, and killing their own citizens is unacceptable. The suffering of the innocent angers and saddens the heart. In this way, you can see compassion as a source of power. Use it, and use it wisely.

One aspect of spiritual awakening people avoid is that it leads you to embrace what makes you uncomfortable. It led me to start exercising, for example, and to become a writer in this community. Despite that these things make me uncomfortable, they’re important to the path I’ve chosen.

My awakening has blessed me with a clear understanding of why I’m here and why I should pursue the path ahead of me. This doesn’t mean it’s always comfortable or I’m always satisfied, but it’s worth all the trouble.

Whether you want it to or not, spiritual awakening will take you out of your comfort zone. It will lead you to things you never thought you’d be comfortable with, like meditation or creative work in service to humanity.

Whether you cross that threshold willingly or unwillingly is up to you. But if you stick with your path after awakening, you will cross it.

Spiritual awakening is a gift, a blessing, and a pain. It’s not all sunshine and flowers, but if you can get past the hardest obstacles on your path, there will be plenty of sunshine to come.

Embrace all aspects of your awakening – especially what forces you to leave your comfort zone – and you’ll quickly go from awake to transformed. To be awake is great, but to transform is to realize the goal of the path on which your awakening sets you.

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About the author: 

I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love. I run Openhearted Rebel, a daily news blog dedicated to igniting a revolution of love by raising social and spiritual awareness.

I also have a personal blog, Wes Annac’s Personal Blog, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).

I write from the heart and try to share informative and enlightening reading material with the rest of the conscious community. When I’m not writing or exploring nature, I’m usually making music.

Follow me on Facebook (Wes Annac, https://www.facebook.com/openheartedrebel and Twitter (Wes Annac, https://twitter.com/love_rebellion

Why You Should Care About the Meat Industry – Part 3/3

By Wes Annac, Editor, Openhearted Rebel

I wrote the following for the 264th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.

Income from the guide helps me get by and ensures I can continue to offer free content, and every subscription is appreciated. The option to subscribe is given at the bottom of this post (learn about subscribing with cash/check here).

Concluded from Part 2

Small U.S. slaughterhouses in business for grass-fed ranchers have had to close due to being “pushed out by larger processors”, Dr. Mercola writes. This is all because of USDA regulations that severely restrict the production of American grass-fed beef despite the clear demand for it. (2)

Why not make it easier for small farmers to produce grass-fed beef and ensure the process is humane? It seems like common sense, but apparently, the USDA disagrees.

And finally, the elephant in the room:

The Industry Subjects Animals to Horrible Conditions

Ed’s story might have been a little hard to swallow, but this section will disturb anyone with the slightest bit of empathy.

The following section details the injustice and abuse the animals who become our food are subjected to. If you don’t think you can stomach it, feel free to read on. I have, however, left out many of the most disturbing facts so I could retain some semblance of the lightheartedness this guide is usually known for.

With that said, let’s get into it.

The ASPCA reports that over 99% of U.S. farm animals are raised in factory farms. (7)

The industry, they report, makes animals suffer by subjecting them to (among other things):

  • Physical alternations like teeth clipping without anesthetic (7)
  • Confinement indoors with “poor air quality and unnatural light patterns” (7)
  • The general inability to do things normal animals do (7)
  • Breeding, either for “fast growth” or higher yields, which risks the animals’ safety (7)
  • Carelessness and neglect toward animals that are suffering, which is an apparent result of the “higher ratio of animals to workers” (7)
  • Improper use of antibiotics to make up for unclean and unsafe conditions (7)
  • Roughness and abuse from workers (7)

We’ll focus on what one animal, the chicken, typically goes through. We won’t be learning what other animals endure here, because the subject matter is difficult enough as it is. Although I recommend educating yourself on what all animals raised on factory farms experience, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much depressing information.

I’ll leave it up to you to learn more if you’re interested and want to help make a change.

The ASPCA reports that chickens bred for meat are raised indoors in “large sheds” that contain more than 20,000 of them. In these sheds, the chickens are “crammed together” on the floor. They live in their own excrement and are constantly irritated by high ammonia levels that burn their throat, eyes, and skin. (8)

Factory-farmed chickens, the ASPCA reports, are nothing like the wild chickens that preceded them. Selective breeding, low-dose antibiotics, too much feeding, and too little exercise cause factory chickens to “grow unnaturally quickly and disproportionately”. Their breasts grow large, meeting market demand, but their organs and skeleton don’t follow the same pattern. As a result, some of them become crippled and “unable to reach food and water”. Heart failure, trouble breathing, chronic pain, and leg weakness are also common. (8)

According to the ASPCA, factory farms keep the lights on in the sheds nearly 24-7 to restrict the chickens’ sleep patterns, which ensures they continue to eat and grow. As you can probably imagine, the space becomes crowded as they grow. Thus, they’re forced to compete for space in what are already extremely difficult living conditions. (8)

Fortunately, animal activists are inspiring some companies to change.

The ASPCA reports that companies are developing policies and committing to addressing the problem of fast growth. Some companies and consumers are also committing to certification programs requiring proper space and natural lighting cycles. You can help too. With the Change Your Chicken Challenge, you can change this grotesque system by changing the chicken you purchase to those raised humanely. (8)

Dr. Mercola cites animal welfare activist Philip Lymbery, who believes in a solution rooted not in vegetarianism, but a return to old-school farming methods over mass industrial farms. He believes that as consumers, we can make a change by choosing what we eat carefully. We can help by ensuring we eat meet and eggs from farms free of the cruelty for which the meat industry is well-known. (2)

Lymbery’s idea is simple: return animals to a natural farm setting.

“This is not, in any way, a call to vegetarianism. This is a call to put animals back on the farm. Pasture is one of the most ubiquitous habitats on the planet, covering 25 percent of the ice-free land surface.

“This is about using that ubiquitous habitat to produce great food in a way which is environmentally friendly and kinder to animals, leaving much-scarcer arable to grow crops directly for people…

“Three times a day, through our meal choices, we have an opportunity to change our lives and thereby help change the world.

“It’s as simple as buying free-range eggs, pasture-raised beef and chicken, and looking for milk that has come from cows that have been able to graze… We’ll start to support family farms, will help to support a better environment, and will help to feed the world in a more humane and efficient way.” (2)

Conclusion

If this information doesn’t convince you that you should care just a little about the meat industry, I recommend digging deeper. This is a basic introduction to the subject with the implied encouragement to learn more and ultimately do more about it.

Like any industry, the meat industry would like us to believe they’re doing nothing wrong. Otherwise, we won’t give them our money. It’s true that they’ve improved since the early 1900s when factory conditions were much more appalling, but their modern-day treatment of animals is still far from humane.

The public can directly address the problems with the meat industry by buying our meat from humbler sources that, simply put, don’t have these problems. Responsible farmers that raise animals humanely and treat them with decency from the time they’re born until the time they die.

I think we can all agree – those who love meat and those who’ve sworn off it – that these animals’ suffering is preventable and unacceptable.

Do you care now?

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Sources:

(1) Henry Imhoff Helena, “Problems with the Meat Industry”, Independent Record, September 17, 2013 – http://helenair.com/news/opinion/readers_alley/problems-with-meat-industry/article_387e394c-1f24-11e3-85b7-0019bb2963f4.html

(2) Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Shocking Facts About the Meat Industry” Mercola.com, November 25, 2014 – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/11/25/shocking-facts-meat-industry.aspx

(3) Adam Voiland and Angela Haupt, “10 Things the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know”, U.S. News, March 30, 2012 – http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/03/30/things-the-food-industry-doesnt-want-you-to-know

(4) Sam P.K. Collins, “Pink Slime Is Making a Comeback”, ThinkProgress, August 20 2014 – https://thinkprogress.org/pink-slime-is-making-a-major-comeback-c58aa671f639/

(5) Joe Satran, “‘Pink Slime’ Ground Beef Product Returns To School Lunches In 4 States: Report”, Huffington Post, September 10, 2013 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/pink-slime_n_3900851.html

(6) Luke Runyon, “Fines For Meat Industry’s Safety Problems Are ‘Embarrassingly Low’”, NPR, August 10, 2016 – http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/10/489468457/fines-for-meat-industrys-safety-problems-are-embarrassingly-low

(7) “Farm Animal Welfare”, ASPCAhttps://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare

(8) “Chickens – Farm Animal Welfare”, ASPCA https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare/animals-factory-farms#Chickens

Featured image credit

About the author:

I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love. I run Openhearted Rebel, a daily news blog dedicated to igniting a revolution of love by raising social and spiritual awareness.

I also have a personal blog, Wes Annac’s Personal Blog, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).

I write from the heart and try to share informative and enlightening reading material with the rest of the conscious community. When I’m not writing or exploring nature, I’m usually making music.

Follow me on Facebook (Wes Annac, https://www.facebook.com/openheartedrebel and Twitter (Wes Annac, https://twitter.com/love_rebellion

If you enjoyed this post and want to support my work, consider a donation by sending funds via PayPal to wesremal@yahoo.com.

Recent articles and videos:

No copyright. Share freely with attribution to Wes Annac and Openhearted Rebel.

Why You Should Care About the Meat Industry – Part 2/3

By Wes Annac, Editor, Openhearted Rebel

Continued from Part 1

I wrote the following for the 264th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.

Income from the guide helps me get by and ensures I can continue to offer free content, and every subscription is appreciated. The option to subscribe is given at the bottom of this post (learn about subscribing with cash/check here).

“Factory-farmed chicken”, Dr. Mercola writes, is one of the biggest causes of food poisoning. Beef is no exception to this rule: the USDA has been considering labeling beef that’s tenderized mechanically because during the process, pathogens are compressed from the surface down into the meat. Once there, the pathogens can potentially survive being cooked. This is why it’s been to blame for “at least” 5 E. coli outbreaks in 6 years (2003-2009). (2)

Here are some more fun facts about industrial farming Dr. Mercola shares:

  • It’s responsible for loss of water quality, as it causes phosphorous and nitrogen contamination in streams, rivers, and groundwater. This can contribute to “dramatic shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones” (2)
  • It may be responsible for making crops less nutritious, with the focus on harvesting a high yield over crops high in nutrients (2)
  • It’s responsible for the emission of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases (2)
  • It negatively impacts soil quality (2)

With these problems that plague industrial-scale farming, it seems sensible to make the switch to more sustainable farming practices on a national level. In a society as advanced as ours, we should be able to get our meat and dairy without worrying about our groundwater being contaminated or our food being less nutritious.

Slaughterhouses Can Be Dangerous for Workers

Luke Runyon at NPR reports that Ralph Horner (also known as Ed), a worker for a beef plant in Greely, Colorado, tragically died at his job in June 2014. The plant in which he died is owned by JBS, the “world’s largest meatpacker”. (6)

Luke reports that Ed died when a piece of equipment he was working on pulled him in by catching his hair and shirt sleeve. His sleeve bunched up around his neck and mouth, suffocating him. Ed was 54 and married, with three sons and a grandkid. (6)

Meat and poultry processing plants are safer than they used to be, Luke writes, but they can still be a dangerous environment for workers. In the plants, workers disassemble chickens, hogs, and cattle with hydraulic saws, industrial blenders, marinade pumps, steel hooks, metal chains, and conveyor belts, with mats on the floor to “avoid slips on blood or water”. (6)

Luke writes that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2004 to 2013, 3,737 deaths occurred on the job at manufacturing facilities. Meat and poultry plants report higher injury rates than the rest of the manufacturing industry. Also, U.S. Department of Labor data suggests beef and pork workers are injured and become ill more than poultry workers. (6)

Fines for regulation violations are “embarrassingly low”, Luke writes; even when the violations lead to death. By the end of it all, the JBS only ended up paying $38,500 in fines for the violations that caused Ed’s death. (6)

Ed’s story gives us all a reason to care about the industry’s lax regulations, the injuries and deaths those regulations can cause, and the pathetically low penalties that result.

The FDA Makes Raising Grass-Fed Beef a Headache for American Farmers

Dr. Mercola writes that most grass-fed beef sold in the U.S. (potentially 85% of it) is imported from Australia and New Zealand. Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Brazil are a few other countries we get our beef from. (2)

Chipotle recently began receiving its beef from Australia to keep up with the demand for grass-fed, Dr. Mercola writes, as American suppliers don’t have enough and are unable to match Australia’s lower prices. Founder Steve Ells said in a Huffington Post op-ed that the cattle that become Chipotle’s meat spend their lives on pastures eating grass and roaming freely. (2)

This sounds much better than being subjected to horrific factory conditions.

He also said he hopes for Chipotle’s decision to influence American ranchers to “adopt a grass-fed program”. He would like to see grass-fed beef go mainstream. (2)

Dr. Mercola writes that the climate in Australia and New Zealand supports grazing year-round. There’s also an abundance of grassland in these countries, making it easier for 70% of all cattle in Australia to be “pasture-raised and finished”. Then there’s the fact that, according to Dr. Mercola: “Australians can sell their meat for less than American grass-fed cattle ranchers can”. (2)

One reason it’s so difficult for American ranchers to keep up with Australia and New Zealand’s rate of grass-fed beef production, Dr. Mercola writes, is that the USDA has effectively put in place a “stranglehold”. Laws in our country restrict grass-fed slaughtering to a degree; such as the restriction that a grass-fed rancher can’t stay in business if he has no access to a slaughterhouse. (2)

According to Dr. Mercola, large slaughterhouses can refuse small jobs from humble ranchers. If they are accepted, these small-time ranchers have no control over the way the animals are treated once handed over to the slaughterhouse. Citing The Carnivore’s Dilemma, Dr. Mercola explains that the grass-fed beef from these small ranchers cannot be considered humane if the animals’ deaths are inhumane. Only some slaughterhouses do their job humanely. (2)

Concluded in part 3 tomorrow. Subscribe to read the full article.

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Sources:

(1) Henry Imhoff Helena, “Problems with the Meat Industry”, Independent Record, September 17, 2013 – http://helenair.com/news/opinion/readers_alley/problems-with-meat-industry/article_387e394c-1f24-11e3-85b7-0019bb2963f4.html

(2) Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Shocking Facts About the Meat Industry” Mercola.com, November 25, 2014 – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/11/25/shocking-facts-meat-industry.aspx

(3) Adam Voiland and Angela Haupt, “10 Things the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know”, U.S. News, March 30, 2012 – http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/03/30/things-the-food-industry-doesnt-want-you-to-know

(4) Sam P.K. Collins, “Pink Slime Is Making a Comeback”, ThinkProgress, August 20 2014 – https://thinkprogress.org/pink-slime-is-making-a-major-comeback-c58aa671f639/

(5) Joe Satran, “‘Pink Slime’ Ground Beef Product Returns To School Lunches In 4 States: Report”, Huffington Post, September 10, 2013 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/pink-slime_n_3900851.html

(6) Luke Runyon, “Fines For Meat Industry’s Safety Problems Are ‘Embarrassingly Low’”, NPR, August 10, 2016 – http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/10/489468457/fines-for-meat-industrys-safety-problems-are-embarrassingly-low

Featured image credit

About the author:

I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love. I run Openhearted Rebel, a daily news blog dedicated to igniting a revolution of love by raising social and spiritual awareness.

I also have a personal blog, Wes Annac’s Personal Blog, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).

I write from the heart and try to share informative and enlightening reading material with the rest of the conscious community. When I’m not writing or exploring nature, I’m usually making music.

Follow me on Facebook (Wes Annac, https://www.facebook.com/openheartedrebel and Twitter (Wes Annac, https://twitter.com/love_rebellion

If you enjoyed this post and want to support my work, consider a donation by sending funds via PayPal to wesremal@yahoo.com.

Recent articles and videos:

No copyright. Share freely with attribution to Wes Annac and Openhearted Rebel.

Why You Should Care About the Meat Industry – Part 1/3

By Wes Annac, Editor, Openhearted Rebel

I wrote the following for the 264th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.

Income from the guide helps me get by and ensures I can continue to offer free content, and every subscription is appreciated. The option to subscribe is given at the bottom of this post (learn about subscribing with cash/check here).

You don’t have to be a vegetarian or animal activist to be angry with what’s happening in the meat industry. Corruption and abuse litter an industry that provides food in inhumane ways for the sake of profit.

In this article, we’ll be discussing things I wish weren’t happening and am therefore doing my part to help stop. Some parts of this article might be tough to read, but by sharing this difficult information with you, I hope to help you see why you should care.

Vegetarians and meat eaters can work together to effect much-needed change in the industry if we can learn the facts and commit to this common goal. The cause is important for those who want to protect animals and those who want to ensure meat is produced ethically (and is thus safer for consumption). Continue reading