Sunday, May 29, 2011

In Memoriam...

This American holiday is supposed to honor those humans who happened to die "in our nation's service." I'll reserve commenting about that here and instead use this post to turn the honoring and remembering to those beings who died because of humans.

This is a good time to remember the billions who die each year to add profit to some group of money hungry humans. This is a good time to remember those killed because some human thinks they "taste good". This is a good time to remember the millions who die each year because some humans can't feel good unless someone innocent is killed by them. This is a good time to remember those beings who die because humans like to be "entertained". This is a good time to remember those who die because humans can't find a home for them. This is a good time to remember those who die because humans didn't find the time to care for them.

I especially want to honor and remember those who are visible each and every day but seem to be not seen. The millions of animals of all kinds that are killed by humans driving automobiles. I recently went to a funeral of a friend's relative, having to drive around 40 miles to get there. I was struck by the contrast between having an elaborate ceremony to mark the life and death of a human and the callousness with which we kill other animals and then leave the bodies of the killed beside the roadways where we travel.

So, while on the way there I decided to count the corpses. Traveling a distance of about 40 miles resulted in a body count of 21 and that is just on one side of the road, I made sure not to count those on the left side. A more accurate total estimate would mean doubling the number to 42 bodies of racoons, turtles, o'possums, toads, squirrels, birds, cats, dogs and unknown others. About 1 per mile. Oklahoma, which has about 12,000 miles of paved roads is an uncovered gravesite for about 12,000 sentient beings at any given time. What I don't know is the turnover, how often are animals are killed at the rate of one per mile...I do know that even one is too frequent.

If we extrapolate that 1 death per mile of paved road occurs nationwide then we are talking about 2,319,535 miles of paved roads....that means at any given moment there are about 2 million 300 thousand bodies lying on or beside the roadways at any given time. Who knows how many are killed over the course of a year. A tragic, horrible and unnecessary slaughter that goes on and on. Unnecessary because even without giving up automobiles much could be done to reduce the death toll but isn't. Slowing down would do much to reduce the killing, being more alert would do much to reduce the killing, simply caring might do much to reduce the killing.

Spring is especially deadly because many of these feather, fur and skin beings are looking for mates and are traveling a bit more than usual. Early evening and morning is especially deadly because many of those we haven't managed to kill off do their activities at those times. I don't always, but sometimes I stop and move their smashed and broken bodies off to the side of the the grass and earth that will care more for them than the hard and human-made pavement. I no more pass any small body without an apology, sometimes silent, sometimes aloud. I don't turn off my seeing and thinking and feeling anymore when I drive. That makes driving relatively unpleasant so I do as little of it as I can.

By the time I arrived at the funeral ceremony for the human I was in a properly somber mood. I had passed many dead beings, beings dead before their time, beings dead before their years were used up, beings dead because some human was in a hurry to go somewhere.

I will and do remember them.


Christina said...

This makes me sick too. I scan the roads like a hawk always expecting an animal to jump out in front of me. What really bothers me are people who swerve just to hit an animal. Turtles, oppossum(so misunderstood) and the kitties. I am so far removed the the mentality of running something over and then laughing or yelling "two points". On my way to work a couple of years ago someone ran over a poor old wild catty kit and just kept going. I got out and stroked her head as she passed (very quickly thank goodness)it was probably her only human contact in her short life and I hope I didnt make it worse by touching her. I didnt want her to leave this world without a tiny measure of comfort. A few years ago on the news a woman saw a pit bull get hit. She got out to offer assistance and when she leaned over him, in his pain and fear he clamped on to her face. The dog passed and the woman is disfigured now. She said she wouldnt hesitate to stop again and help another animal. I admire her.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Christina and thank you on behalf of the dying kitty...I'm sure it wasn't worse for her..a kind touch can never hurt.

Those that purposely hit animals are despicable beings not worthy of the life they have.

A brave woman and a kind one, she that tried to help the dog. I admire her too.

Bea Elliott said...

As the nation celebrated the (human) fallen by indulging in mass quantities of other murdered beings... Thanks for remembering the billions that go unseen and unmourned.

I know what you mean Christina about those who deliberately "aim" at creating victims on the highways... A few weeks ago I was traveling on a busy road and made an instant u-turn to get a turtle from harm's way... As I pulled over to the shoulder I watched a truck intentionally swerve to get the poor little guy just trying to cross to the other side. I just couldn't believe someone would think this act amusing...

But then again --- Of course they would. No doubt they were riding around with a bucket of chicken or a sack full of burgers with not a thought of regret in their little, closed minds.

Truly it is only the knowledge that there are people (present company definitely included) that do make the efforts to avoid destruction and extend kindness, that keeps me sane.

Finally, the ironic thing about funerals and corpses... It's true so much elaboration goes into "preserving" our human bodies for entry into an "eternal" state of "perfection". Meanwhile, here in the REAL WORLD - we make such misery for others... RIP little turtle, kitty, dog, raccoon and all. If anyone deserves forever bliss - AWAY FROM OUR SPECIES - It's you guys. :/

Krissa said...

I was making it through this without crying until this part, "but sometimes I stop and move their smashed and broken bodies off to the side of the the grass and earth that will care more for them than the hard and human-made pavement. I no more pass any small body without an apology, sometimes silent, sometimes aloud.". I do that too. I don't drive anymore, but you'd be surprised how many snails and worms and even little mice get smashed on walk ways and bike paths. It is really good to read this though because I feel less alone. When I was younger, my mother was driving us home from who knows where and we were on a busy street that was the main street that our development was on. There was a turtle trying to cross the street and by a miracle there weren't other cars coming. My mom wouldn't stop though so we drove the few extra blocks home and I ran back as fast as I could only to find his/her smashed body in the road. In tears and with the "I'm sorry's" that you give to the ones you've found, I moved the little body off the road and went home feeling horrible. For some reason, I didn't become vegan for another, geez, almost 20 years. As bad as I knew the problem is, I had no idea it is as bad as what you counted. :( My husband is in a band and they tour the US about once a year and he's remarked on that, too....all the dead bodies everywhere. It bothers him very much. I'm glad we don't drive, but as I mentioned, a lot of the little ones don't fare any better out of the way of cars. ... This was an excellent post. It's one of the problems that gets overlooked a lot even though it is so huge. Thanks for highlighting it.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea. There are many humans seemingly desirous of inflicting pain and death on others...sad, sad, sad. And sadly, bliss for many would necessitate being away from human animals.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Krissa. Dead bodies surround us and get dismissed with the term "roadkill" or simply ignored. We have become so inured and desensitized to the carnage caused by humans operating automobiles (accidentally and purposely) that for many the dead ones don't seem to exist. It is ugly and horrid....and it is degrading to us to ignore the deaths or pretend they don't exist. I detest it.

Have Gone Vegan said...

Excellent post. We don't have Memorial Day here in Canada, but your first sentence made me think that it would be really appropriate for both countries to have an official day to honour all the animals that die "in our nation's service", because good grief, we certainly use gazillions of them to service us! And yet, most people don't even give it a second thought.

Speaking of "people", those who intentionally swerve to hit other beings aren't fully human (not that "human" is necessarily a complimentary adjective) in my opinion. Ironic too that WE kill so many on the roadways and yet blame THEM for being in our way. Sad.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. We have so much "bad karma" to overcome re our fellow animals...our treatment of them is just unspeakable.

Those who deliberately kill and maim for "fun" fill me with despair.