Sunday, February 6, 2011

Taking by violence or force or threat of violence or force....

"....Even now, it seemed to her, people had what they had from foundations built by the sweat of horses. Their hoofbeats should echo in human hearts. But what statues had been placed in their honor? What horse-named streets and counties? What volumes of poetry...?"

pages 77-78, Reprisal, by Mitchell Smith

I ran across the above passage in a novel I was reading the other day and it made me think about all the effort and work that has been taken from the other animals by us human animals over the thousands of years this extorting has been going on. Oxen, donkeys, mules, dogs, horses, elephants...too many kinds of animal people to think of have been made to do work for human animals. And the slavery continues even now. (Here I am deliberately avoiding consideration of the killing or the infliction of suffering that we have visited on our sister and brother animals.)

Think of all the work, the plowing, the pulling of wagons, the pulling of sleds, the riding, the grinding of grain...and on and on for thousands and thousands of years.

If a reckoning were to occur, a balancing, a returning of what was wrongfully taken did happen, I wonder how many humans and for how long would they have to work to give back to all those many millions or billions of donkey people and mule people and dog people and the others...part what had been taken from them?

The time taken from their lives could not be returned but reciprocal time from human lives could be offered in expatiation. The benefits of that work could be given to those who actually performed the tasks (or to their relatives)...and taken from the criminals who stole those benefits. What would be left for humans? What would human animals have that they had actually earned or gained from their own effort?

The immensity of the wrong that has been done and is continuing eludes comprehension.


Krissa said...

Earlier this winter I was walking home from the grocery store in ankle-deep snow (which is not that bad) and was very heavily weighed down with what was probably more than half my body weight. Our trolley cart that I can use to pull heavier things home couldn't make it through the streets because there hadn't been any snow removal. It was not easy, but what I was thinking of was not so much how hard it was on me. I was thinking about how on my mom's side, my own ancestors were part of the "wagon trains". And my own ancestors forced someone (I don't know if they were oxen or horses, but most likely it was both) to pull wagons that they were not meant to pull through every kind of weather, including the brutal winters of the Midwest. And they probably eventually ended up killed and eaten. They were never appreciated or loved and never given a second thought. This post reminded me about when I was thinking of that.

veganelder said...

Thanks Krissa for commenting.

The chronicling and detailing of the ways and depths of human stealing from other animals (stealing work, time, freedom, joy, lives...etc) has yet to be accomplished...partially because it has become the "norm" and has faded to background noise...time to focus on it...elevate it from the background....think, talk and write about it...eventually to change it.

The callousness of our forgetting is immense and deplorable...thank you for decreasing the forgetting.

Bea Elliott said...

I've often thought that if there was some strange magical "instant" enlightenment to the discoveries of all the ways we have harmed, violated and inflicted monstrous cruelties to animals --- That the world would go "instantly" mad.

I don't think we could ever survive that reality revealed to us "at once." Perhaps this is one of the ways we insure our mental sanity? Inch by slow inch we admit to yet one more of our (little) infractions to the victims. In contrast, many advocates who experience an "ah-ha!" moment bare the weight of the world on their shoulders... This forever war on the animals is our greatest sin.

I guess in answer to those who would ask "what do we owe them?" Why of course, EVERYTHING! Surely then this means that NOW is time to let them go!