By Suzana Megles
March 18, 2011
You are probably wondering - Who is Jim Mason? Never heard of him.
Then you probably know very little about the people who care about the
rights of animals. Maybe you don't even believe they have rights.
Of course, people like me and the people mentioned in this post believe they
do. I, personally, believe as a Christian that God loves all his
creatures and that they deserve the basic rights of a life devoid of
suffering; the right to live peacefully among their own; the right to good
food and clean water; the right to breathe in fresh air and enjoy the rays
of warm sunlight when possible. Sadly, I think I am an exception to this
Christian "rule." I never hear church people speak of this -though I'm
sure some do.
And re animal sexuality - for people who would
feel very deprived without a sexual life - we have taken even that from the
animals with artificial insemination. How can any "thinking" person
believe that this right and the rights enumerated above are excessive? But
sadly, there are many people who do. Among them are people who operate Cafos
(confined animal farm operations) where all these rights are denied the
names from the 80's came to mind as I reread the Animal's Agenda which sadly
folded years ago. Jim Mason and Doug Moss were the brain-children of this
wonderful magazine which brought to us who care about animals- the articles,
stories, and pictures which so absorbed us as we read the informative
articles contained therein re animal and environmental concerns. I
still miss the magazine, but I have all the old issues which I am now
rereading - probably for the last time.
Other compassionate "animal"
people from that time also popped into my mind with wonderment as to where
they are today. In no particular order they are: Henry Spira,
Cleveland Armory, Steve Korwit, Helen Jones, Dr. Richard Morgan, Dr.Thomas
Regan, Hans Reusch, Kim Bartlett, Merritt Clifton, and Doug Moss.
Thankfully, there are many others- too numerous to relate here who were
leaders in this area of promoting compassion for the animals, and hopefully
I will take the time to search them out and find out where they are today.
I know that some of these people that I have mentioned have since died, but
I still want to read about their wonderful accomplishments for animals in
But now to Jim Mason whose magazine
inspired me on this quest in the first place. Where is he today? Before I
found him on the internet - I thought I will be able to condense his
information in one paragraph. Finding it, I realized -no, I don't think so.
His bio is so impressive that it deserves more than one paragraph, and sadly
because of a lack of technical knowhow, I won't be able to share with you
the picture of him today as well as one when he was an little itty boy
growing up on his family's Missouri farm -laughingly stroking a calf.
Obviously, this moment captured on film started his love for animals. Please
look him up if interested in seeing these two wonderful pictures.
The article re Jim Mason was prefaced with: He
is an author, lecturer, journalist, environmentalist, AND attorney who
specializes in human/animal concerns. Phew! Those credentials by
any one's standards are very impressive indeed.
1997 he wrote "An Unnatural Order: Why We Are Destroying the Planet and
Each Other." It examines the cultural and historical roots of the
belief that God gave us dominion over the living world. Because of
this belief, he writes that dominionism has made a mess of our relations
with animals, with nature, and with each other. Would that the
Christian leaders would take the time to read his book and examine its basic
premises. Some of these are: " In enslaving animals for war and farming,
agrarian society broke the ancient bonds and sense of kinship with them.
This makes for an alienated, nature-hating culture. It fowls our relations
with nature- especially animals, whom we need as companions, as exercisers
of human empathy and nurturing, as feeders and informers of the psyche, and
as kin and continuum with the rest of the living world."
1980 he co-wrote with Peter Singer "Animal Factories." This book
exposes America's new world of factory farming where drugged animals were
forced to live in unbelievably crowded conditions. Because of this,
owners were able to mass-produce cheap meat, milk, and eggs. Of
course, in the process, the authors noted that factory farms also mass-
produced environmental pollution which threatens human health while
destroying diversified and humane farming.
He also wrote in1985 'In
Defense of Animals." Later on, articles appeared in magazines with
topics such as Gypsy Moths, exotic pets, and wildlife. All were
received with critical acclaim. Today, he also engages his time by
speaking before conferences, symposia, churches, public schools and
universities about animals, nature, and the environment.
Appearances on TV are not unusual for him too though sadly, I've missed
everyone of them. He has appeared on NBC's Today, CBS's This Morning, NPR's
All Things Considered, CNN, Midday Live as well as on other radio and
television programs in major cities. His books have been reviewed in
the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, In These Times, the
Chicago Sun Times, the Atlanta Constitution as well as in other
Finally, this post mentions where I
first got to "know" Jim Mason. The last paragraph deserves to be quoted in
its entirety: "Mason was the founding editor and co-founder with Doug Moss
of the Animals' Agenda, the news magazine of the animal rights movement.
Jim Mason was elected to the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame in July 2001.
Currently, he is secretary and managing director of the Two Mauds
Foundation, which gives grants to grassroots animal protection
On behalf of suffering animals - thank you, Jim
Mason. I will always appreciate your pioneering work for their rights.
May God bless you and keep you strong in this just fight for the animals who
deserve much better from us. Maybe, one day hopefully changes will be
made and the stifling factories will open up their confining doors to let
the animals out of cages and crates to once more breathe fresh air and enjoy
each other's company; the matador will hang up his cape for good and the
bulls will no longer be tormented and killed; people will refuse to buy furs
which bloody the ice floes in Canada with baby seals' blood; there
will be no more Tennessee Walking Horses whose feet are traumatized cruelly
to make them walk "high." The list of animal cruelty goes on and on.
I have only skimmed the surface, but hopefully all will be addressed
compassionately for the animals. Every day I pray for this to happen.
I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since I received my
first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal
kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77,
I've been a vegan for the
for the past 30 years and I thank God every day that I am. I am most
disturbed at how little the Catholic Church and Christian churches generally
give to concern re animal suffering in their ministry. I wrote to 350
bishops in 2001 and only 10-13 responded. I feel that the very least they
can do is to instruct that the priests give one sermon a year on compassion
to animals. I am still waiting for that sermon. I also belong to Catholic
Concern for Animals - founded in England in 1929. (They are on the internet)
I recently sent a sample copy of their bi-monthly publication called the ARK
to the 8 Catholic bishops of Ohio. Only ONE kindly responded. Somehow we
have to reach the Christian teaching magisterium. There is next to nothing
re animal concerns and compassion for them. They basically believe that
animals are the lesser of God's creation and that gives us the right to do
anything we want to them. Way wrong. We need to change their mindsets. The
animals are God's first and He expects us to treat them compassionately.