I wrote this blog with the intention of posting it, but Sharon felt it was too 'pointed'; so instead of publishing it here, I amended it, went for broke and put it on my personal Facebook page, where I feel I have a little more licence to be 'in-your-face'. However, I have decided it's not such a bad thing if the content gets a broader viewing audience. Just bear in mind that it is intentionally forthright and maybe written for the sensitivities of a slightly different audience...
Dear FB friends,
You may not be aware that in various other places, I write blogs. This one, I feel moved to share here. If it upsets you, please feel free to respond or 'unfriend' me as you feel moved. I've harangued many of you individually about it, and this blog is not aimed at anyone in particular; but in the light of the expressions of compassion towards Cecil et al, (of which I greatly approve) I do feel that it's time to stand up and be counted on an issue that is only slightly tangential. Please read it and think VERY carefully about what is being said. If you can't be bothered to make your way through it all, then I would ask you to simply unfriend me. If my thoughts are not of value to you, clearly I'm not really a friend at all. I am trying to influence you in writing as I would if we were face-to-face. That's what friends do isn't it?
GOD WILLS IT!
The first time I ever saw the Ridley Scott movie 'Kingdom of Heaven' I hated it. Then some years later I saw the directors cut and recognised the value of conveying the directors vision in a finished product. I thought it was excellent. If you haven't seen the movie, it's about 12th century Crusaders and the interminable battle for control of Jerusalem. It's a minor epic. However, what I find most memorable (and most amusing) are the many scenes wherein the Crusaders, seeking to validate any course of action, respond in enthusiastic and echoing chorus when one of their number shouts out "God wills it!" With these three simple words, justification for all acts, no matter how awful and un-Christian is proven. After all, if 'God wills it', who can dare to argue?
It would be easy to argue that this almost entirely fictionalised account of events during the Crusades may be taking great licence with its subject matter; but there's something about the Crusader's dubiously motivated cries of 'God wills it' that, to me at least, rings totally true. I believe that in spirit, if not in actual substance, it's something people still do today. It is my experience that we humans will use the flimsiest of licences to not only provide us with a pretext and rationale for our actions, but also an exoneration from the consequences. We have this easy ability to cast ourselves as victims of circumstance or something beyond our control.
What's my evidence you may wonder? Well, I believe that thinking individuals should easily be able to come up with numerous examples of this phenomenon all by themselves (provided they are not personally cast of this "God wills it!" type), if they are prepared to observe their fellow beings rationally and objectively. But to give you a hint, let's take my favourite bete noir, the carnivorous nature of the preferred diet of the majority of the population.
Faced with the opportunity of observing the specifics of the precise manner in which animals find their way onto our dinner plates, there are relatively few who are prepared to face the hideous barbarity of the slaughter house. If you harbour any fondness for animals, it is difficult not to empathise with their terrifying plight. Anything more than peripheral knowledge of the obvious distress of their last hours, which for the vast majority will inevitably include separation from family members, terror filled transportation, the torturous manner of their execution (and all throughout, having clear knowing of the terrible fate that is to befall them) is too much for most to bear. So when faced with this deeply uncomfortable knowledge, surely anyone with an ounce of compassion would wish to play their part in not just alleviating, but in bringing an end to so much suffering. Yet in reality, most people know what transpires and will turn a blind eye, allowing them to pretend that they don't; and those that do have the gory details presented to them simply claim that there is nothing they can do about it. In other words they use the flimsiest of licences to not only provide a pretext and rationale for their actions, but also an exoneration from the consequences. Let's look at some typical examples.
"God put animals here for us to eat." What a great opener! In other words, "God wills it!" It never ceases to amaze me that people can be so willing to not only believe in but worship such a callous and cruel deity who apparently favours one of his creations over all others. (Oh yes, I forgot that 'made in his likeness' bit which makes everything acceptable.) How pleasing this ultra-convenient fantasy is for us. It's pure Crusaders stuff.
"I'm not the one doing the killing" is a great cop out isn't it? On that basis, hiring a hit man to dispose of anyone you don't like becomes legitimate. However, in applying this logic to killing animals or humans you'd be the one profiting from the killing. Make no mistake, your involvement in the slaughter of the animal automatically comes about as soon as its flesh passes your lips. It's presence in your stomach makes you as culpable as all those who were involved prior to your consumption, because you are the ultimate culprit, on behalf of whom all of those acts were done.
"What's their purpose if not to be eaten?" The crashing arrogance of this never fails to stagger me. Only humans have purpose, right? Only our experience of life is valid, right? The other 8.7 million non-human species of being on this planet have no purpose other than to feed/amuse/serve us, right? I guess that makes sense if God willed that one!
"If we didn't eat them, the planet would be overrun with cows/sheep/pigs/chickens" (insert your favourite 'food animal' for this ill thought out excuse). It seems that only the people who use this excuse are party to the normally concealed knowledge that 'food animals' are sex crazed and, if left to their own devices, will reproduce faster than rabbits. Oh wait. They're not and they don't. There are indeed billions of 'food animals' on the planet. There has to be to meet the demand for the 160 million that are slaughtered daily. (Yes, really.) Let's be real about this. They're here in abundance only because we forcibly breed them.
"What else are they here for?" This is a variation on the 'purpose' argument and every bit as silly. But it comes up because we just don't understand what any of us are here for. Those who can accept that the reason for being alive is to be a lawyer or an accountant or a chef or a nurse or a store assistant or whatever, have a long way to go.
"We've got to eat something!" Well yes, we certainly have evolved to that state of being and we're very fortunate that to enable us to cope with this need, we are surrounded by an absolute abundance of foodstuffs. I wonder if there's any learning point in the fact that only a tiny percentage of them are animal in form?
"I couldn't survive without meat." Really? Would you shrivel up and die? Have you tried? What magical, life sustaining effect do you believe eating meat has on you? Do you know that your body doesn't respond nearly as well to the flesh of other creatures as it does to other foodstuffs that are more than equally sustaining? Do you know that your digestive system experiences relative difficulty in processing meat; let alone the fact that your teeth are not designed to chew it? Are you aware that when you take meat into your body you introduce the last vibrational state of the being before it died, which was almost guaranteed to be terror? Have you seen the latest research about vegetarian diets and their positive effect upon cancers? Need I go on?
"Vegetables are rabbit food." Yes that's right, because they're nutritious and healthy for them. As they are for humans too. And very tasty too. Does the fact that they are acceptable foodstuffs for a non-human species mean that we shouldn't eat them?
"My doctor says I need meat as part of my diet." Yes, and your doctor is giving you that advice based upon a habit your body has gotten into wherein it is used to giving a chemical response to cope with the unnecessary flesh you keep forcing upon it. Wean yourself off or go cold turkey, and the habit can be broken and your body will be much happier and your doctor won't have to give you advice that distorts the truth.
"Vegetarian meals just aren't enjoyable." Are you aware how little taste meat actually has, which is why we coat it in seasonings and sauces to make it taste of something? Have you ever compared the flavour of a raw vegetable to a raw piece of meat? The smallest pea is packed with more taste! And do you realize that being meat free does not involve eating only vegetables; that there are many other foodstuffs that form part of a non-meat diet? All that is required to overcome this piece of nonsense is to eat a meal produced by somebody who knows what can be created for non-meat meals and you'll be aghast.
"We all need meat." Farcical. A taste for meat is a habit forced upon us circumstantially when we are mere babes. If we never began eating meat, we would never need to eat meat. Trying it would be akin to sampling dangerous drugs.
"Not eating meat is wrong for my body type." See the doctor thing above. People forget that the Ayurvedic excuse they fondly tout is a description of bodily needs that comes from a time, place and culture where eating meat was not acceptable, and the system was not intended to incorporate meat as a component of diet.
"I only eat meat occasionally." In other words, you only endorse mindless slaughter some days of the week, and on the other days you remember that it's utterly unnecessary and wrong.
"I only eat meat from sources where the animals are humanely killed." Could this be because there are places where premature and unnecessary death can transcend the experience of simply robbing creatures of a life they treasured and wanted (just like us) to preserve at all costs. Oh no, silly me. Getting slaughtered so that you can end up on someone else's plate still requires you to give up that precious life. It's violent, painful and brutal, no matter what nice words we like to use.
"I don't eat red meat/I only eat fish." These two are liberally applied as legitimising meat eating because everybody knows that chickens don't mind being killed so that we can gorge ourselves on their flesh; and fish don't suffer at all as they are pulled out of the water and writhe around in nets desperately trying to breath before their lungs explode. In fact, isn't it obvious that animals whose flesh does not constitute red meat value their lives far less than those that do? Surely that must be the case, because if it weren't true, that would mean that eating them would be no better than eating red meat... and that would really screw up the excuse wouldn't it.
"It's not convenient for my lifestyle to not eat meat" Ultra-lame. This is pure victimology. Anyone can change their lifestyle if they so desire, and do not allow themselves to be a prisoner of their own habits. And by the way, meat eating is not too convenient for an animal's lifestyle either when they're the ones being eaten.
"Animals eat each other, so why shouldn't we eat them?" Simple. We can choose. They can't. It's scientific fact that many animals are physically designed to eat meat, but humans are not. And did you know that only a very small percentage of species actually eat meat?
"They don't really know what's happening to them." Only a delusional person or a moron would say this. Or perhaps that's unkind. Perhaps they just haven't seen film footage of pigs screaming, cows crying tears, fish flailing frantically, sheep bleating piteously as they manically trying to escape, or chickens futilely flapping their wings and shrieking in terror. But perhaps the behaviour is open to interpretation and God wills them to not really know what's happening to them. NOT!
"They're lesser creatures than we are." Is that because they don't read books and paint pictures and build skyscrapers and start wars? Or because we haven't chosen to exempt them from 'food animal' status and elevate them to 'companion animal' or 'exotic animal' or 'protected animal' status? Is it because we're foolish enough to believe that they don't have feelings, or love their families, or value their lives? Or is it just because we're arrogant enough to look down on anything that can't do what we do and we don't fully understand?
"If I didn't eat meat, others still would." Ah, finally, the ultimate of stupid excuses. Perhaps God has willed that we can only do what everyone else does and this will indemnify us from all personal responsibility for... well, just about anything. Or have we simply forgotten that an action that a society takes can only ever begin with individual members of that group taking action.
Of course, for those who are not using one of these vacuous 'God wills it!' type of excuses for being a carnivore, the only other option available is that they just don't care enough or have enough empathy or compassion to play their part in stopping the endless slaughter. Or to put it another way, they simply don't give a shit. And in that thinking, they'll be in the majority, so that makes everything OK, doesn't it?
So enough of these flimsy licences that seem to provide a pretext and rationale for their actions. And we don't need exoneration from the consequences, because apparently, there aren't any...
Or might it be the case that our progression as beings is evidenced by our understanding of our place relative to all things; our realisation of the connectedness and interdependence of all things; the acceptance that our actions are not only a reflection of our soul's state of development, but also something that will be reflected back to us; and then, in the light of all this knowledge, the need to choose to act upon that knowledge so as to live our lives in as harm free an existence as possible? Unfortunately, I believe that's just the way it is.
And here's the ultimate irony. I think it's this way because 'God wills it!'
NB. If you find me sanctimonious, please be assured that historically, I too have chosen to turn a blind eye to the suffering caused by meat eating. I finally became too horrified to allow my actions to continue to endorse what was happening in my name 25 years ago; and although I have 'fallen off the wagon' many times, been a pescatarian (in the utterly dumb assed belief that fish don't suffer) and used flimsy and pathetic excuses to legitimize what was ultimately my personal part in wholesale cruelty, I have now been an unflinching and committed vegetarian for 9 years, and a passionate and slightly militant vegan for the past 5. I know eschewing meat eating can seem hard and the first months can be a struggle, but the rewards of knowing that you do no harm are manyfold. I would like to believe that through FB I am connected to compassionate and caring people, because those are the people I choose as friends in the 'real word'. I therefore urge you, as the person I believe you to be, to help stop this particular element of the travesty human existence is becoming and stop eating meat. Thank you for reading.