Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martin Luther King...and other advocates for nonviolence.

A salute and thanks to a remarkable person....Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. King. She continued his work promoting social justice and nonviolence...and lived the last years of her life as a vegan.

This holiday honors a proponent of nonviolence, which is one of the principles of ethical veganism.

Thanks to my friend Andrew who writes over at We're All Animals for bringing attention to a remarkable woman named Gwen Dunlop. The link associated with her name will take you to one of the more powerful essays ever written (that I have read) about the suffering of animals and advocating on their behalf. She writes about her regular vigil outside a slaughterhouse in Toronto. Some excerpts from her essay:
My vigil takes various forms but mostly it entails meeting the truckers as they arrive, witnessing the unloading of the females of the pig species, (called sows by some, who I call my soul friends and my tribe) and then seeing the truckers (who have no option but to pass right by me, my conscience and I hope and I know, in some cases, theirs)...
Most of the time, I just stand there, in whatever kind of weather, for as long as I can last, sometimes three hours… more or less, with both hands over my heart.....
I send as much love and compassion as I can muster, amidst the beatings of the sows and their subsequent screams, (which I never think can get worse but do),and the shouting of some of the truckers… as in: “Move, you stupid f’ing bitch(es)” (similar language with accompanying rage that at times gets sent my way as well)....
That we seem to think we human animals are special in some way and will therefore be spared the brutality we have not spared others of our species and certainly not these remarkably intelligent, non-human animals is, in my opinion, a form of insanity.
And criminals, at least some, however hardened we judge them or ourselves to be, are sometimes offered, on the eve of their executions or we, in our final moments, last rites and perhaps even a special last meal; whereas these sows, representing the female principle of life, have never had any rights…first or last or in-between....
Ms. Dunlop, a practicing ethical vegan, also writes about what led her to begin her vigil:
I felt for all the animals, who were never able to say and still cannot say, “Enough”; who had no recourse then, and all these years later, continue to have no recourse whatsoever in ending their own suffering....
Read her words in their entirety, she is most eloquent. The story of the events and history that let her to the vigil is quite remarkable and interesting.

Read also Andrew's post about her, he provides some fascinating information about vigils and objecting and advocating and protesting....even if you see no results.

His words led me to some thinking and looking into other folks that objected in the face of apparently overwhelming circumstances and I came across a term that Mahatma Gandhi created that seems to very accurately describe Ms. Dunlop's vigil. The word is Satyagraha and is defined by him as:
Its root meaning is holding onto truth, hence truth-force. I have also called it love-force or soul-force. In the application of satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on oneself.
Satyagraha seems to me to describe quite well the slaughterhouse vigil. Gwen Dunlop exemplifies nonharm, nonviolence and the pursuit of truth. Satyagraha. Thank you Ms. Dunlop, for your efforts and for serving as an example to us all.

If you aren't already living as an ethical vegan:
An ethical vegan has a vegan diet and rejects consuming animal products but also does not wear or use any animal products. An ethical vegan rejects the commodification of nonhumans as property. An ethical vegan is committed to the abolition of animal exploitation. Moreover, ethical vegans recognize that an animal-based agriculture harms other humans as well as non-humans and sees the connection between human rights and animal rights. Ethical veganism is the moral baseline of the animal rights movement. Ethical veganism represents a commitment to non-violence in one’s daily living.
Today would be a good day to begin your journey...do your part to make Gwen Dunlop's vigil unnecessary by making slaughterhouses disappear. Do your part to live non-violently. The violence of killing animals is primarily driven by their use as food.

For the taste in your mouth, animals are killed...that fleeting and ephemeral experience (taste) does not justify the suffering, misery and death that is inflicted on sentient beings. The beating, the screaming, the killing of a pig animal is not justified by your desire to taste bacon.

The desire to taste something is a triviality compared to a life, compared to suffering, compared to misery. This is a self-evident truth and each of you reading this know it.....please begin living the truth.....and Gwen Dunlop and the animals and me and your own conscience will thank you.

7 comments:

Murph's mom said...

I can see Gwen Dunlop in my mind's eye standing there. She has kind eyes and a saddness that will always be with her. She is very strong in spirit. A champion in my opinion. I am in awe of her ability to reject hatred. She inspires me. Thank you for posting about her and Correta King, someone else who rejected hatred.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Murph's mom. Indeed, Ms Dunlop is a champion of the spirit of nonviolence as was Ms King.

Krissa said...

Um. Thank you so much for that link. I am more moved than I could have imagined. I am almost in a trance as I write this comment. I have no idea how I'm going to survive it, but I am going to have my husband go with me here to do the same thing - I am sure there are slaughterhouses somewhere near Berlin. If I fall apart, I fall apart. But I am beyond moved and her example has left me no choice - I won't be able to live with myself if I don't at least try. ... I have recently been reading as much as I can get my hands/computer on about Tibetan Buddhism and I have read about their practice called Tong-Len which is also the taking of another's suffering on oneself in meditation. I did that last year thinking about my cow friend and all the other cows before I knew what it was. It seems that these practices which are sacred also come to the hearts of those who do not even know what they are called. There has to be a reason. ... Now I'm in danger of rambling and I'm still very stunned after reading Ms. Dunlop's words. Thank you very much for sharing that link and for all you do for our fellow creatures as well. "Thank you" barely covers it, but that's the best I can come up with.

veganelder said...

Thank you for your comment. Ms Dunlop's writing is indeed powerful beyond description. I appreciate your thanks Krissa, hug or caress a non-human animal for me...please. I don't think we can ever make up for the misery we have dealt those wonderful beings...but we must try.

Bea Elliott said...

Ms. Dunlop's silent vigil LOUDLY voices the severity of it all. I'm grateful that she and others are witnesses. Perhaps it is most in these "quiet" protests that advocacy best illustrates the need to make an end to the butchery. Ms. Dunlop does not stand alone in her efforts as this Animal Iqualdad video shows:
http://vimeo.com/17759292

Thank you for putting this remarkable activist in a prominent place in the struggle for justice.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea and thanks for the video link. Gwen Dunlop is indeed remarkable as are all who participate in the struggle.

So I'm Thinking Of Going Vegan said...

Krissa told me to look out for this post, and I'm glad she did. Very powerful indeed. And it shows that just being witness can have an impact. I live too far away from Toronto at the moment, but I'm sure there are other ways I can support her cause. Thanks for telling her story here.