Visitor:

The following is part of a dialogue with Prof Schwartz, founder of the Jewish Vegetarian Society, in an effort to point out the contradictions in the dominion model.

Ruth


From: homerific1990@hotmail.com
To: rschw12345@aol.com
CC: flh@all-creatures.org
Subject: A Confusing Contradiction
Date: 10 Mar 2010

"Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good." Gandhi

Professor Schwartz,

Thank you for your thought provoking comments. Some of my thoughts on these comments follow:

You cite the care some followers of the judeo.christian tradition show to their companion animals as an example of ahimsa:

"I believe that to a large extent Judaism teaches Ahimsa. In some ways it goes beyond it in the following sense. First, it teaches that if a person has a pet, he or she must see that the pet is fed before sitting down to his or her own meal."

The reasoning in this example of compassion also refers to one's live stock and is both cruel and self-serving, for if you provide good care to the animals that will eventually be consumed, it will result in a better meal. The slaughter of an animal is not an act of compassion as it takes the life force of a living being, that was not freely given.

Ahimsa includes all living beings in its circle of compassion. To state that the concept of dominion contains examples that are an indicator of ahimsa implies a lack understanding of the latter concept. Though some of those who follow the judeo.christian tradition, keep dogs as companion animals, 4-5 million healthy young dogs are killed every year in the USA simply because they are homeless. This act of violence is condoned as it is labeled as compassionate. It would not be considered an act of compassion to euthanize homeless humans. Once again the contradiction of dominion has taken its toll on animals: care for some dogs, kill others. The millions of dogs killed ever so compassionately when they become an inconvenience are victims of the dominion model. This is not ahimsa. The use of animals as scientific subjects does not prohibit the use of dogs and they are in fact used as experimental subjects. Ahimsa does not allow for the harming or killing of animals to benefit humans. Taking the life of a living being is always considered an act of gratuitous violence.

Such is the nature of dominion. Its dispensation of compassion is conditional always revolving around human need, rather than respect for the intrinsic worth of an animals life. So that under some circumstances it is possible to care for a dog and in others kill, harm and maim them for human benefit.

You also state: "...it is better to try to get Jews to apply their religious teachings rather than changing them, especially when there are many Jewish teaching that are very applicable."

As noted above with regard to dogs, the teachings are so piecemeal as to be ineffective, some dogs are protected and cherished others are used as scientific subjects and euthanized with mind numbing facility...

The following statement seems to imply that speaking about unconditional compassion for animals in some way threatens the Jewish people with changing to another religion.

"As you know, there is a long history of attempts to get Jews to change their religions, and this is one reason that it is better to try to get Jews to apply their religious teachings rather than changing them.."

Though Jews have had an unfortunate history of forced conversion, speaking about compassion in terms of ahimsa is not an attempt to convert Jews to any other religion and ought not be viewed as such.

You state: "Since I am trying to make changes in the Jewish community (others as well, but at least initially the Jewish community), I have to, in effect, play by the rules."

Playing by rules that have consistently resulted in the harming and slaughter of animals will lead to more of the same. If we do not start to speak of rules that truly embrace compassion, then we will be preaching the half-hearted compassion of dominion for another 5000 years with the same devastating results.

It is a question of priorities: not stating that conditional compassion is cruel as it sanctions the harm and slaughter of animals, for fear that the message may offend the sensibilities of those who endorse this exploitation, puts the concerns of those who allow for abuse over the right of an animal to remain free from harm. Once again human benefit is valued over the worth of animal lives, despite the fact that no harm would come from a message of unconditional compassion to those who accept and endorse animal abuse as a necessary evil.

The following is a small sample of the positive results for animals when a model of ahimsa is followed as compared to dominion:

India: 400 million religious vegetarians
//USA:4-5 million vegetarians.

India: Dissection banned for all high school students in every state
//USA: obligatory in every state difficult to get an exemption

India: Illegal to kill a dog for any reason other than extreme illness or trauma
//USA dogs used as research subjects and millions of healthy young homeless dogs killed every year

India: All circus and zoo elephants freed and sent to sanctuaries
//USA: freeing not an issue. bull hooks approved approved for disciplining captive elephants

India: monkeys tolerated by population, export of free roaming monkeys for research banned as it would result in harm to them
//Israel: Monkeys bred throughout the world and in Israel for gruesome neuroscience experiments in Israeli Universities.

India: pigeons are fed daily at jain temples by visitors, endorsed by the religion
// USA: woman assaulted for feeding pigeons in NYC and 'pigeon shoots'


Feeding The Pigeons at a Jain Temple in Kerala, India

I would be interested in your response to the evidence that animals do indeed fare better in ahimsa based cultures and communities.

Rather than respond to the abysmal track record of dominion, you try to justify its use because people will not understand or will be threatened by ahimsa. If we do not present a message of unconditional compassion now, then we are catering to the needs of those who chose to harm animals and eliminating the possibility of establishing a broader-based compassion. This stance will not lead to progress. Putting human needs first is in essence the meaning of dominion.

Using a model with such devastating results for animals in an effort to remain sensitive to the needs of those who sanction their harm is to follow the dominion model, as human need is once again placed above the value of the right of an animal to simply live free from harm and slaughter.

When the Jains introduced ahimsa thousands of years ago it was an alien concept and animal abuse was rampant, yet they had the courage to speak honestly about the cruelty of harming animals to benefit humans. This integrity has reaped substantial positive results for animals.

Finally, you state: "So, once again I urge you to challenge Jews to live up to their highest teachings, rather than seeking to have them adopt something they might think is alien to their religion...."

Compassion is not alien to the human soul, but it needs to be nurtured and encouraged, not suppressed. All I am saying is that a model of unconditional compassion for animals has shown to encourage compassion, while dominion, with allowable harm and slaughter suppresses it. I believe unconditional compassion would resonate with many if given half a chance, but this will not happen as long as allowable harm and slaughter remain unchallenged.

I am not sure why you are urging me to challenge Jews to use a model of compassion which falls short, as it is you who have a voice in that community and I would hope the responsibility to use that voice to disavow allowable harm and slaughter. It is not possible to pretend that dominion is compassionate, when in effect the negative teachings so outweigh the positive as to trivialize any gesture of compassion...

"Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good." Gandhi

Respectfully,

Ruth Eisenbud


From: rschw12345@aol.com
To: homerific1990@hotmail.com
Subject: Dominion: a Confusing Contradiction
Date: 5 Mar 2010

Thanks for your thoughtful response, Ruth,

I believe that to a large extent Judaism teaches Ahimsa. In some ways it goes beyond it in the following sense. First, it teaches that if a person has a pet, he or she must see that the pet is fed before sitting down to his or her own meal. Also, if a person is kind to animals because he or she believes it is a commandment from God, then he or she perhaps might be more diligent in going further in that kindness or perhaps less likely to slip up.

Since I am trying to make changes in the Jewish community (others as well, but at least initially the Jewish community), I have to, in effect, play by the rules. I can't give people a chance to change the subject away from the discrepancies between Jewish teachings and the realities of how animals are treated.

Judaism does teach that only humans are created in God's image. But this should mean that people should copy God's attributes of compassion and justice, so this should be an argument for better treatment of animals and the earth.

I believe that Judaism teaches that animals should not be mistreated or killed unless necessary for a basic human need that cannot be easily met in any other way. So, for example, if a person was on an island and could only live if he or she killed an animal and ate it, that would be permissible. But, I have been arguing for years that people can be properly nourished on plant foods and therefore there is no need to eat meat and thus Jews should be vegans.

The problem is that Jews, like people in most religions are finding ways to avoid basic Jewish teachings. I have argued that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate at least 6 basic Jewish mandates, and trying to establish dialogues/debates on "Should Jews be Vegetarians?" But the Jewish community has basically been avoiding the issue.

This is why I have been writing a book "They Stole My Religion" for many years, often stopping for long periods because of the controversial nature of the material, which will probably ostracize me from much of the Jewish community. But, with the world now rapidly approaching an unprecedented climate catastrophe which will be devastating for all life on the planet, I have decided that I must complete the book and hope to do soon. In it I will make a strong case for veganism and an end of abuses of animals, based on Jewish teachings.

So, once again I urge you to challenge Jews to live up to their highest teachings, rather than seeking to have them adopt something they might think is alien to their religion. As you know, there is a long history of attempts to get Jews to change their religions, and this is one reason that it is better to try to get Jews to apply their religious teachings rather than changing them, especially when there are many Jewish teaching that are very applicable.

Best wishes,

Richard


On Mar 5, 2010, Ruth Eisenbud wrote:

Professor Schwartz,

Thank you for posing your thoughtful question:

"...what makes you think that people immersed in other religions are going to suddenly become Jains, a religion they know almost nothing about?"

Ahimsa is not an alien concept to many in the animal rights movement, as I would guess that a large number practise it in their daily life. It is the concept of ahimsa that I am trying to present, not the Jain religion. When I argue about the merits of ahimsa I cite numerous examples of how it has resulted in greater benefits to animals in Indian culture where it is a value of the mainstream religious tradition.

You are misinterpreting my intentions, as I do not suddenly expect people who follow other faiths to become Jains.

Introducing the concept of ahimsa to the west in no way implies that anyone has to become a Jain. I have stated this many times in my writing as to avoid confusion. The Jain religion does not proselytize.

I use the Jain model as an example to show that it is possible to attain greater compassion for animals when a model of unconditional compassion is taught by a religion. In fact in India the whole of society has been influenced by the concept of ahimsa without followers of other faiths becoming Jains.

You state: "Perhaps it might be better to argue that people should try to apply the best aspects of their religions, including compassion"

While this sounds lovely and appears to be reasonable, it doesn't work. The worst aspects contradict the best. The net result of this at best is to maintain the current level of abuse, however time has shown that this is not the case and with this model abuse and slaughter go up.

Wouldn't it be better to both speak directly in favor of the best aspects while acknowledging and pointing out the cruelty of the worst aspects?

I have an old dog with diabetes, when I walk her so many people are sympathetic and show a great deal of compassion. I often ask them if they are vegetarian, and despite their innate expression of compassion, they say no. The mainstream religions have found a way to convince these individuals that despite the cruelty of slaughter, it is compassionate to exploit and slaughter animals, if it is done for human need. It is not possible to have it both ways, as dominion implies. One is either compassionate and carefully avoids ab(use) of animals or one conditionally allows for their slaughter and ab(use), while paying lip service to compassion.

If the standards of dominion were applied to humans, they would be soundly condemned as it is understood that allowable slaughter and abuse will not lead to greater compassion. Would it not be better to state unequivocally that animals are worthy of the same respect shown to humans?

The measures of compassion applied to animals destined for slaughter are a thin veneer in view of the horrors of slaughter and result in assuaging guilt, rather than achieving compassion. Often when a small measure of compassion, such as removing veal calves from their crates results in increased sales. People want to believe they are compassionate and their concerns of cruelty are placated by these gestures.

Would it not be better to speak directly to the innate compassion that so many have and give them the whole truth, so they can make an informed and truly compassionate choice?

It is a psychological truism that it is not possible to solve a problem until the underlying root causes are addressed. Half-hearted compassion alongside of benevolent abuse does not deliver a message of compassion, rather it provides loopholes, so that abuse is justified while appearing compassionate...

When you cite examples of compassion in the Bible, yet choose not to criticize the passages which allow for harm, it results in confusion, because the passages allowing for harm negate the gestures of compassion. It is this confusion that has resulted in so much abuse made 'legitimate' by religious approval.

Though I have political opinions about human on human violence as in the examples you cite about democracy, my main focus is on the terrible plight of animals, as I believe that the harm so easily justified to animals is also at the root of much human suffering. Once you sanction the ab(use) of animals it is not a great leap to harm and kill humans.

I am not alone in this belief:

"For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love." Pythagoras, mathematician

This statement speaks to the spiritual harm that man does to himself while allowing and indulging in the slaughter and abuse of animals. This understanding is at the root of the Jain religion. There is no reason it cannot be expressed by other faiths as well.

If you follow ahimsa in your personal life and lend support to dominion in your public life, than the discrepancy is perplexing. Is there a reason that you do not support unconditional compassion for animals equivalent to that granted to humans in your public statements? Implied legitimacy to the dominion model helps preserve it and therefore the ever increasing abuse of animals is not challenged....

Respectfully
Ruth Eisenbud


CC: epar@yunord.net
From: rschw12345@aol.com
To: homerific1990@hotmail.com
Subject: Re: Domion has two faces: "Is it true -do You have two faces , Sir"
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2010 15:47:34 -0500

Ruth,

Do you also feel that democracy has two faces, because democratic US has backed several dictators when it was in our interest.

If someone from a country claiming his/her country represented compassion, justice, democracy, harmony and all good things argued that you should come to his/her country because the US massacred Indians, enslaved and brutally treated Blacks, prevented women from voting for many years, backed dictators, unjustly attacked Vietnam and Iraq, and backed several dictators, would you move to that country, or would you feel as an American you should stay here and try to use democracy and other positives in the US to try to make our country better

If the latter, what makes you think that people immersed in other religions are going to suddenly become jains, a religion they know almost nothing about? Perhaps it might be better to argue that people should try to apply the best aspects of their religions, including compassion

All the best,

Richard


On Mar 3, 2010, at 8:29 AM, Ruth Eisenbud wrote:

Slavica,

This is why I speak out against the concept of dominion. Dominion has two faces. It allows for the harm and slaughter of animals, as it speaks of compassion for them. The two messages are incompatible. There is no compassion when animal lives are so devalued that their slaughter, an act of cruelty and abuse, is condoned in the name of human necessity.

It will not help to target one individual, as western culture is deeply rooted in the judeo.christian tradition and as such follows the model of dominion. This man is in the majority and his views are upheld by western society.

Furthermore threatening a human being is not an act of compassion and will lead to more violence both to animals and humans.

Ahimsa Parmo Dharma (Non-violence for all beings is the primary principle, Jain sutra)

Ruth


From: epar@yunord.net
To: verein@neuland-fleisch.de
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2010 13:56:59 +0100
Subject: Is it true -do You have two faces , Sir

http://www.neuland-fleisch.de/verein/der-neuland-verein.html

Ihr Ansprechpartner beim NEULAND-Verein in Bonn

Torsten Walter
NEULAND e.V.
Baumschulallee 15
53115 Bonn
Telefon: 02 28 / 60 49 60
Fax: 02 28 / 60 49 64 0
Email: verein@neuland-fleisch.de
Der Vorstand des NEULAND e.V.

Sir ,

Let us say , we have been informed about Your two function.

Are You man who has two faces: one of the animal-protecter and the other the face of the chief of
a slaughtering machinery, named Neuland ?

Be so kind and give to us some Explanation about Your two functions , if it is true this information .
Thanks .

All best

Friend-EPAR/OIPA Serbia/Alliance for Animal rights
epar@yunord.net


Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
Author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism," "Judaism and Global Survival," and "Mathematics and Global Survival," and over 130 articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz
President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) (www.JewishVeg.com) and
Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians
(SERV)
Director Veg Climate Alliance
Phone: 718-761-5876
rschw12345@aol.com

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