Beliefs come in a variety of guises. Most beliefs emanate from our heritage; hates of parents emulated by offspring, biases beget biases. Others take a life of their own, spawned by serendipitous confluences of converging opportunity. Mine is of the latter form.
Watching an innocuous film, one that documented life on the modern farm, practices, and procedures essential for maintenance of a competitive life, illustrated how land and animals are treated elicited an epiphany. I had just finished reading "Conversations with an Executioner", a true account of post world war two where a convicted enemy of the allies was inadvertently imprisoned with the leader of the Polish freedom fighters. This tale documented an inquiry into the motives and mindset of pogrom mentality. As the film, about the farm life, progressed, a very ominous thought pervaded my subconscious thoughts, and rapidly snowballed into my conscious actions. "What if we are wrong about the ability of all other aspects of the planet to feel, just as the persecutors of Jews were wrong"?
As I addressed this issue, in my mind, many doors of inquiry opened. We have been wrong about all endemic populations beliefs, sentience, and degree of intelligence. We have been wrong about the planet’s ability to heal, from our consumptive invasions, and we have always sought refuge in the current sanctity of prevalent divine purpose. What if we are wrong about all of the other life forms on the planet, and what if the collective sum of all aspects on this sphere, biotic and abiotic, contribute to biosphere intelligence, that requires the synergy of all to fully function? This dilemma was impossible to convey to others, but easy to rectify in my own practices and application of consumption.
As I drove home, about twenty miles and two lifetimes, from the film, a thought arose, " when it is all said and done, and my life is at its end, will I side with the Nazi’s or the Jews". God or no God, my bet had to be hedged, side with the Jews. If you are wrong then no fault, if you are right then time will heal my beliefs. I entered the house and purged our food stores of all animal products, eliminated any substance that was tested on animals, and refused to allow any further entry of those items into my body, either as ornamentation or as subsistence. My wife was in full agreement, although ice cream was an issue, we both loved the taste and pleasure, but no longer the thought.
As days, of change, melded into months and merged into decades, our decision, of self imposed outcasts, from mainstream thought, became justified, and reinforced daily. Each day the national press has articles of factory farm abuses, unsanitary conditions, and increases in resistant disease formation. Everything from mad cow disease to variants of E. coli, were pervading and destroying susceptible individuals, and the range of tolerance, by human immune systems, was shrinking in inverse proportion to the number and variability of the pathogens. No longer were we considered the abnormal rather the norm. Humans are now on the brink of immune system overload. A point in which all future derivations of disease organisms will be capable of producing death and uncontrolled growth in susceptible individuals, and most humans, rather than few, will be hosts.
As the film chronicled, domestic livestock, whether raised for slaughter or by-products (milk, eggs, fur, or blood), were increasingly treated as things, not living entities. All are subject to the whims of profit, and whatever means are required to illicit greater and greater sums of money for less capital outlay become accepted practice. We started out using growth-enhancing drugs in feed and massive doses of injected antibiotics and progressed to feeding them livestock bodies of diseased animals and their own waste. We are what we eat. As further and more invasive cross species pathogenic organisms proliferate, we conjure up more technologic means of circumventing the invasion. Irradiating food, treating the symptoms in consumers, overcooking (destroying all nutrients), and genetically altering chromosomes, all in the effort to outwit single celled and viral pathogens. We, the very pinnacle of evolutionary success are finding our true place in the hierarchy of life.
As we are no finding, there is no escape, from our own demise. A time of reckoning is at hand, and we will answer for all of our sins. Each abuse, towards the "useless" species, inflicted for the sake of human survival, "in the way" organisms hampering progress had a purpose, we just never grasped the big picture. Our palette was too limited; the colors of speciation variation were too broad for our monochromatic perspective. Extinction and suppression, of extremes, has lead to monoculture and only slight deviations from the mainstream, of western European taste. Not that eastern cultures are remise in their contributions, to the perversion. Eating brains from live monkeys, dogs, cats, and any exotic endangered species obtainable, for the perpetuation of an octogenarian erection, never once considering the fate brought upon the others by their consumptive habits.
Vision, once un-obscured, can never fully retreat behind the illusion of ignorance, or be numbed to apathy. I would never be a party to the perversion again. Hunters are one class of consumer, at least they are willing to accept the fate of their actions and take pride in the kill, appreciate the quest, and the allure of the process. But, casual consumers, of factory feed meat, who refuse to explore the origins and process of meat transport, from cradle to grave, because it is "too gross" and "don’t want to know" are in another league altogether. The latter are capable of change, but elect ignorance over action. If they united, there would be a drastic change, in farming practices overnight, but it shall not occur, because ignorance requires no action, only shutting off the perceptual switch.
My sight is 20/15 and I refuse further acceptance of eating the way mainstream society has prescribed, for the sake of conformity. I will never take crap from either the ignorant or the hunters, for my awareness. Desecration of the soul is the same, just because we are incapable of active conversation does not remove the possibility of sentience, from the prey. I know there is a presence in the sight, actions, and minds of the others. They do possess a spirit and soul, are capable of complex thought, an awareness of purpose, and have a place in the everlasting place of spirits, as do we all. The fact that organized religion chooses to cast them in the role of subjugation is not my problem. As we are all aware, man has a habit of justifying any practice that eases his burden. Especially where acquisition is concerned, when need is there, greed is soon to follow, and rationalization is sure to follow in footsteps of logical sequence.
Once my decision cast, I find new venues of perception awaiting discovery. It is not that my thoughts are original; rather my feelings are open to different natures of reality. I encounter personalities and sentience where none existed prior to my "awakening". Dogs speak, horses frolic with purpose, cats are aware of me, I am in the realm of animalia. A place where all have a voice, a perspective, and an equal vote, no one species is in total charge, the ultimate democracy. This unity is one of standing for all, and biodiversity is not a concept, but rather a founding and underlying precept of all actions.
We all still eat each other, yet thanks are given, and a reverence for each soul taken acknowledged by all. Every entity is a place of special permanence, and the loss of one species truly felt by all, as if a blood relative has been offended. For an offence against our mother once inflicted, is irreparable, never will Gaia’s synergy be the same, yet a little worse for the degradation.
Glowering in the midst is the every present specter of ignorance, persecution, and ridicule, we suffer on, ever secure in the sight we, the aware are permitted to enter. Trying to be tolerant of the blind, but aghast at the indiscretions and bondage our taxed tithing brings on the innocent.
Government sanctioned experiments, "pest" control, varmint eradication, "sport" slaughter, and ever-pervasive factory farming of livestock, incrementally kills our souls, for we feel every indiscretion. Is this the 1940’s all over, or have we elevated our pogroms to a more removed level of indignity, time will tell.
I stop for lunch, beside a pasture, and several different thoughts, as if in a dream, enter my mind and begin to take the shape of coherent thought; they start to merge into a dialog. A running internal monolog begins, in a flat tone, its origins far removed from my "voice".
"Our world gone awry, less and less making sense, for many generations we lived in harmony with our captors, something changed, we inadvertently offended the rulers, or my some misplaced sovereignty, were no longer considered alive but objects. Intemperate treatment became a moot issue. A utilitarian morality ascribed to us; need one acknowledge remorse for an object’s fate? Commodities abused without "useful" intent were distained. In most reality’s children, parents, grandparents, aren’t trucked off to hells unimaginable. Entire countries unwilling to accept what was happening, to disenfranchised populations stood aside. Purposes cloaked, however thin the veneer, in true science, or betterment of life for the greater society, condoned ensuing actions. Original atrocities of simple murder and slavery, horrific enough, but things escalated.
Tormenters callused, treatment became macabre; those deemed to be without birthrights were divided into differing test groups. Try acid on one group’s skin, documenting burn rates. Another faction of victims chosen for beating, in order to test rates of blood loss and hemorrhage, before loss of consciousness. At times imprisoned members lacerated repeatedly, with razor blades, allowed convalescence and slashed again. These processes repeated for years, only terminating when scar tissue enveloped their bodies. One congregation raped, over several generations; the offspring recycled as yet another use group. Parents and children’s reciprocal prayers imploring neither suffer as they were; only to recognize the shrieks of agony from adjoining cells. Atone of anguish no family need share, a father, wife, daughter, son all in simultaneous hells.
Individuals, or groups, used to exhaustion were loaded into transport vehicles; caravans destined for reclamation sites. Barely alive, severely diseased, or damaged hostages were herded into "showers" and slaughtered. Offal put in ovens and cremated; cost was high, so this practice was avoided whenever possible. Some carcasses processed for otherwise scarce commodities. Useable corpses tanned into hides – shaved hair pillow stuffing, bones ground into fertilizer, tissue and "meat" packaged then fed to others, or to relatives.
Entire nations transacted with perpetrators of these crimes, no questions raised regarding the supplies origin, only the cost. It became fashionable, by the controlling elite, to wear the prize skin of children, acceptable to disguise and eat the flesh of the dead, teeth used as ornaments, unsuspecting people’s lifestyles adorned with the tortured souls of apathy. An "if we don’t really know, it can’t truly be happening" attitude permeated consuming populaces.
Transcending all reason, in spite of growing bodies of evidence, pogroms continued. Wars avoided at all costs, at all cost maintain peace. Genocide progressed into empirical proof of outr?hypotheses. Surgeries without anesthesia, amputations, disembowelments, sexual mutilation, brain exploration, all requiring patient interaction, the substantiation necessitating even more "subjects".
In the beginning, only a few castes were eradicated; as prey, winnowed annually during predictable "seasons", times of pilgrimage, or randomly culled at night. As the "need" for "volunteers" intensified dictators became less clandestine, less discerning. Whole communities disappeared; all "persons" different from those in charge were in jeopardy. No question put to how we felt, it was accepted, and we were filthy, unfeeling, godless, soulless, incommunicative creatures. In all instances, without rights of consideration, legally, morally, or constitutionally, hatred progressed to derangement. As terminus approached, dictators rejected alteration of accepted practices, anyone or group suggesting change was suspect; suspect of being vicarious towards persecuted groups, and dismissed, or removed.
Greater numbers and broader segments of society began to find fallacy in the tyrant’s logic, and their own inevitable plights. As more people dissented, some rulers altered their patterns, blatant offences exchanged for illusive ones. Still we suffered. Only as a burgeoning body of incontestable evidence, unearthing the quantity and scale of atrocities, became common knowledge, an allied front mobilized. Once affected, with the reality of the source of their commodities, individuals united and refused further consumption.
Liberation progressed, each freed "camp" had its treatment documents seized; our new "saviors" were aghast at crimes a civilized populace had allowed to occur within its domain. Liberators changed forever as they bore witness to the "camp’s" survivors. Outlying "camps" became more heinous, medically and experimentally mutilated were housed there. Blinded, starved, altered, scared, and maimed prisoners numbered in the millions. After reviewing records, dead were estimated to be in the billions.
Dictator’s fathers and their fathers had been using the same management towards their "captives" that the "camps" used towards the masses. Differences in offence being of numbers rather than attitudes or severity of treatment, previous generations had no more consideration for our lack of rights than did their sons and daughters. Yet even after liberation, of the afflicted, and confronted with undeniable proof, collaborating masses either denied the abuses’ existence, claimed the numbers were in error, or justified villainy with religious indoctrination.
Some oppressors incapable of identifying with the oppressed were unwilling to make peace or rectify their practices, beliefs, and attitudes. They saw no ultimate wrong in the actions of their culture. Why, because those animals had no standing, without legal rights society had no moral or ethical compunction for the consideration of their soulless existence. The populace looked upon targeted groups as pathways to a greater societal goal, citing lifestyles, freedom of choice, and refusal to lower their standards.
American Indians, Australian aborigines, African and South American endemic population, Roman Christians, Egyptians and Palestinians, Serbs and Muslims, Russian Ukrainian Jews, European Jews all victims of the same mentality; the mentality of ignorance and persecution. As a planet, civilization vowed these perversions in violation of all decency; genocide, the types of torture, the massive maniacal level of sadistic murder and mutilation, would never be tolerated by "civilized" society again, death "camps" and slavery wouldn’t, couldn’t, happen again, not in our lifetime.
Nothings changed, treatments old all culminating in death; they happen every day in most houses, plates, and mouths on this planet; at every factory meat farm, animal shelter, primate testing facility, primeval forest at clear cut edge, and on every fur farm. Spend one hour of your life in any one of these places, looking into the eyes and souls of the persecuted, just before their "shower" any question about man’s restoration of justice will be answered.
Man has selectively learned from the past, incorporating only the vilest behavior into his attitudes, practices, and procedures of procurement from "others", on this planet. Where do "products" in the butcher case come from? Does man really need animalia testing for all products used by him? Are skin adornments of rare and gentle creatures a practice to be tolerated? According to man, man has become the only species worthy of consideration. In self-ascension of the hierarchical staircase, man has become "Hitleresque" in his approach, management, and consideration of all "others" on this planet.
When seeking to right the wrongs of the world one must start in their own life. Once personal incongruities are resolved, only then, can we resolve the injustices of inconsideration perpetuated towards the other aspects of earth. We only treat each other with as much respect as the respect we have for the planet’s least consequential aspect. If there exists a just and honest being, at the head of this human experiment, and we have to face that entity on a judgment day, will your soul be aligned with the despots of history or the persecuted?"
What was seemingly hours was in reality only a few minutes, very vivid minutes. As I looked up several animals were staring at me: a cow, mouse, squirrel, horse, dog, cat, and sheep. It was as if they had sent the images and messages, they required an answer. All I could do was cry. While the saline fountains poured from my soul, I froze, for all the creatures were also crying, we both realized the answer, this problem has no solution, not as long as bi-pedal’s rule the planet’s perception of worth.
Liberation from blood was a good thing. It has opened my mind to the reasons behind my beliefs, no matter my sell out living; my consuming life is still intact I will not abandon Veganism for political correctness. Consumers need inundation with the fruit their purchases are driving; understanding none of these atrocities would exist if they refused to be a party to the crime.
Copyright ? 2000 by Robert H. Oeinck. All
May be used in unchanged form by avowed Animal Rightists if accompanied by this copyright
Animal Rights Counterculture