Fish Tales 

“Many years ago, I was fishing, and as I was reeling in the poor fish, I realized, ‘I am killing him — all for the passing pleasure it brings me. And something inside me clicked. I realized as I watched him fight for breath, that his life was as important to him as mine is to me.” – Paul McCartney

My wife and I are Vegan. We have chosen not to eat or use any animal products or byproducts. For a long time Alaina had been thinking about going vegan and I passed it off. It seemed like too much work. Then I got cancer. And while I’ve been healthy and watching what I eat in the past, having cancer made me think that what I put into my body directly affects my health on the cellular level. Switching my diet to only eating plant based food has been one of the single greatest decisions of my life. In saying this though, I don’t care what you eat. Let me say that again: I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU EAT. I can give you scientific research and facts on why switching to a plant based diet was good for me, but I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU EAT. There’s only so much of the world to save and so little time to do it, Personal choice is one of our last true freedoms. 
While I switched my diet for my health, Alaina switched her diet for her beliefs on animal rights. She strongly opposed the meat industry and everything about it. Very quickly, my reasons included hers. We believe that every life has value and that we’re not willing to take a life or be part of a culture that does take a life, in order to feed ourselves.
Now, fishing.
We live only a stones throw from Lake Champlain. I’ve grown up swimming and playing in that lake. I’ve camped on its islands and jumped into its coldest parts. I’ve looked upon sun sets expanding into calm waters and woken to the sound of waves hitting docks. We Vermonters take pride in our lake. We spout on about it to people who live on the true “Great Lakes” without even considering that their lakes are…Superior. I’ve also caught more than my fair share of fish from that lake. I have relatives that have “I’d rather be fishing” bumper stickers. To say my father law is an avid fisherman is the understatement of the century. I think the guy casts in his sleep.
I don’t believe in fishing. There are numerous studies that conclude our oceans and other bodies are over fished (not to mention filled with trash). I tend to lean toward Sir Paul McCartney. Who am I to make a fish suffer in order to give my self momentary pleasure? Thinking about this now, it also forces some nihilistic thoughts about what it is to be human and the roll we play as ever stretching gods over wildlife…lets put a pin in that.
Because my father in law loves fishing so much, he’s gotten his grandchildren into it as well. He sees the time fishing with his grandson as bonding, which is great. I love that he wants to spend time with his grand kids. I would never take that away from him. Do you smell that though? That’s not the smell of dead fish, that’s the smell of an internal dilemma that plague both my wife and I.
I can understand both sides. Fishing wreaks havoc on our waters as well as the wildlife that live in them. Fish are animals, I don’t eat animals, our children don’t eat animals. Some of my children’s best bonding time with their grandfather is with him fishing though. I would never take that away from my kids, or my father in law. And this is the thing, I would never tell my father in law he shouldn’t fish. Just like he would never force me to fish.
For now, we teach our kids about what is alive and what is not alive. We teach our son that the fish he catches are living animals with nerve endings and pain similar to us. I want Jude to know as much information as he can handle. Patton Oswalt said it best “I’m reading all the latest parenting books, and I’m getting it all wrong.” Like most parents, we try to guide our children to live the best life they can. We give them the best info we have and then let their own free will take over. Our kids (yours and ours) will listen. There is hope for them. People don’t give toddlers enough credit.
Jude loves to fish. He’s reeled in a couple of big ones with no help. Regardless of the bonding he has with his grandfather, fishing has turned into something that Jude gets excited for. If he decided to become a master angler, I would always support him no matter what.
As parents we have to pick our battles. Right now, I would rather see my son and my father in law happy. It seems quite alright to have an internal struggle rather than an external problem.

-AF
Is there a dilemma you feel as a parent? Are their boundaries and lines that you tend to dance around?

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