Chris Hedges has been a hero of mine since I read his Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, in which he exposed the myriad ways the dumbing down of American society serves those in power.
In his latest Truthdig column, he addresses an issue close to my heart: the killing of animals… (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/all_forms_of_life_are_sacred_20150104)
While I am a vegan, many of the people I like and love eat animals. I’ve heard on a number of occasions people saying they tried vegetarianism or veganism but that it wasn’t right for their body type. Perhaps they are anemic or don’t digest plant protein well. In addition, I am so conscious of putting others out when I travel or go to someone’s home for dinner and request a meal free of animal products. I certainly don’t want to pretend that I am a “morally superior” person. What’s more, I’m somewhat of a spineless vegan. Rarely do I start arguments about animal rights, nor do I describe the horrors of factory farming in detail when I encounter someone who is digging into a steak or chomping on a chicken wing.
Maybe that all should change.
In his article, Chris Hedges quotes Issac Bashevis Singer (whose enchanting collected stories my father read to me when I was a youngster):
“Even though the number of people who commit suicide is quite small, there are few people who have never thought about suicide at one time or another. The same is true about vegetarianism. We find very few people who have never thought that killing animals is actually murder, founded on the premise that might is right…I will call it the eternal question: What gives man the right to kill an animal, often torture it, so that he can fill his belly with its flesh. We know now, as we have always known instinctively, that animals can suffer as much as human beings. Their emotions and their sensitivity are often stronger than those of a human being. Various philosophers and religious leaders tried to convince their disciples and followers that animals are nothing but machines without a soul, without feelings. However, anyone who has ever lived with an animal–be it a dog, a bird, or even a mouse–knows that this theory is a brazen lie, invented to justify cruelty…As long as human beings will go on shedding the blood of animals, there will never be any peace. There is only one little step from killing animals to creating gas chambers a la Hitler and concentration camps a la Stalin…all such deeds are done in the name of ‘social justice.’ There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is.”
There is a lot more in Hedge’s article, as the opening lines suggest: “The battle for the rights of animals is not only about animals. It is about us. Once we desanctify animals we desanctify all life. And once life is desanctified the industrial machines of death, and the drone-like bureaucrats, sadists and profiteers who operate them, carry out human carnage as easily as animal carnage. There is a direct link between our industrial slaughterhouses and our industrial weapons used on the battlefields in the Middle East.”
Someone told me recently that people kill animals and destroy the planet because they don’t know how to love.
I wonder if people will remember how to love before it is too late.