Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy, Happy...

Vegan New Year to All!
And again:
And again:

And also, thank you from the little ones...like this baby below...thank you for caring about all other living beings. Earth and life belong to them too. Living vegan is the only meaningful way to respect that truth. Enjoy your New Year!

(thanks to all the creators of the images...all were found on the internet)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Merry...

For all y'all...

Now and always is the season to be vegan...that way we can have year round holidays. Enjoy!

And:
To all beings...and especially to you who take the time to read and maybe even comment. Thank you!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hooray for Winter Solstice...2012...

The December solstice will occur at 11:12am Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on December 21, 2012. For us living here in the central Oklahoma area that is 5:12am. If you want to know the time in your area for this event you can check here.

Image from timeanddate.com
December Solstice is the event which marks the start of increasing length in hours of sunlight for us in the northern hemisphere (conversely, December Solstice marks the start of shorter daylight hours in the southern hemisphere). While this is our shortest day of the year (hours of sunlight), this is the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. You might not realize that the December Solstice occurs on different days in different years: "December 20 and December 23 solstices occur less frequently than December 21 or December 22 solstices in the Gregorian calendar. The last December 23 solstice occurred in 1903 and will not occur again until the year 2303. A December 20 solstice has occurred very rarely, with the next one occurring in the year 2080." (source) The reason for this variance?

As with the June solstice, the December solstice’s varying dates are mainly due to the calendar system. The Gregorian calendar, which is used in most western countries, has 365 days in a common year and 366 days in a leap year. However, the tropical year, which is the length of time the sun takes to return to the same position in the seasons cycle (as seen from Earth), is different to the calendar year. The tropical year is approximately 365.242199 days but varies from year to year because of the influence of other planets. The exact orbital and daily rotational motion of the Earth, such as the “wobble” in the Earth's axis (precession), also contributes to the changing solstice dates. (source)
In other words...the timing for natural cycles is a bit fuzzy.

Human animals in the northern hemisphere have marked this event with celebrations and festivals for thousands of years. The light is returning, with this return spring will eventually occur...new growth in plants...new babies born to many of our wild relatives. All in all, pretty good reasons for celebration.

Greetings and best wishes to you and yours on this holiday season. Please make this a peaceful and caring celebration time by living as an ethical vegan.

These images are available from VeganPeace and you can visit there if you would like to send electronic vegan holiday greetings.

Pictures of Grasshopper, Rose, Rudy and Danny taken by Wanda Embar, Vegan Peace at Farm Sanctuary.

 Be well, be kind and enjoy! Consider visiting a local animal shelter or rescue and giving some of your time and attention to the beings there. They will appreciate it (and so will you). Thank you and happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Driving by the dead.

It's about 12 and 1/2 miles from my house to Heartland Rabbit Rescue. I go south out of Norman on I-35 for a couple of miles, across the South Canadian River then I turn west and travel about 5 more miles. Then I turn south on another highway and go south and west until I'm there. Once I'm there I visit Cutie.
Cutie.
She is shown out on the grounds where she will aggravate other bunnies if she gets a chance or she might undertake a digging project and move much more dirt than seems possible as she digs herself a tunnel.
Cutie again.
I'll also visit Albert too. He often is given the chance to
Albert.















run free and he will galoomp all over the warren grounds busying himself with whatever comes to his mind and/or attention. If he spots a human and he is of a mind to...and he is usually of a mind to. He will run really hard and fast toward that human and come to a screeching stop right at their feet and wait. He wants a head rub. If he gets what he wants...he'll take as much as he wants at that time and then he'll take off again.

Cutie and Albert are safe. They are cared for. They are appreciated and marveled over.

While driving to the rescue, after I turn to the southwest, over on the north side of the road there is a group/herd of bison.
Bison
This group certainly contains mothers and their babies, whether there are any grown guy bison in the group is not known to me.
Baby and mom.
These beings aren't safe. They aren't cared for beyond what is needed to be done to make sure they live long enough to be profitable to kill.

They are beautiful. Their ancestors were here long before any human animals. This part of North America was and is their ancestral home. Now they don't run free. Now they have tags in their ears. Now they are living but they are dead.

Seeing them every day I make the trip...seeing them on the way there and seeing them on the way back is painful and sad-making. It's quite a depressing juxtaposition. I'm traveling to a place where some beings are made safe but to get there I have to travel by the walking dead. They are beautiful beings, magnificent even...but that counts for nothing...they are dead. They are used to benefit a human or humans. Their lives, their cares, their desires, their pains, their fears, their joys big or small...all count for nothing except as might contribute to profit for some human animal.

There are other sorts of beings I drive by...cows...you may do so too. Most of us often pass by areas where the living dead are kept. If you don't do anything else...next time you see a cow or a sheep or a buffalo or anyone else that is one of the living dead...at least suffer a twinge and send them an apology of some kind. For the buffalo at least...we're not only killing them...we stole their homes too.

I'm always happy to see Cutie and Albert and each and every other bunny at the rescue and Midnite and Judy and Molly. But...every trip there and every trip back carries a load of sadness and helplessness. No matter how many are safe at the rescue...many more are dying or are the future dead.

Doing your part to end this culture of death and exploitation will necessitate living as a vegan...please don't put it off any longer. That buffalo baby doesn't deserve what is going to be done to him...and it is all absolutely unnecessary....and wrong.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The relativity of wrong.

"...when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."

This quote is taken from an essay written by Isaac Asimov. When I was ten or eleven I discovered science fiction...the genre has remained a staple of my reading habits ever since. There are few authors in the field that are the equal of the late Isaac Asimov...partially because he was a bright and insightful individual.

I was struck by how relevant and applicable this thought is to the notion that all sentient beings have the right to live their own lives however they want. This may not be perfectly true...but if you think it is as untrue as believing that no living beings except human ones have such a right...."your view is wronger than both of them put together".

Truth, rightness, goodness, accuracy...all these terms refer to something that is, in the end, fuzzy. But if you think the notions of animal rights are just as inaccurate or fuzzy or as wrong as the way human animals now behave toward our fellow living beings. You're wronger than all "of them put together". 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksliving!

I agree with the feathered folks...I'm tremendously grateful for each being who lives their life as if others mattered. Thank you, thank you and thank you.

Happy Thanksliving!
 And...for all those animals who suffer because of us human animals...I'm sorry.

I will spend part of Thanksliving day trying to make some bunnies a bit more happy and/or comfortable. Few things are more gratifying than bringing some pleasure into the life of those less fortunate than yourself. If you can, please visit your local animal sanctuary or rescue and help out those we abandon, neglect and harm.

And I really really do appreciate all the ethical Vegans and hope you thoroughly enjoy your holiday!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Winter...

The two events that serve to mark the onset of winter have happened here. The first event is associated with freezing. We recently had several nights here where the temperature went below freezing and stayed that way long enough to kill off the tomato and pepper plants. Even those plants that were wrapped in sheets....flannel ones no less. Didn't matter...all died so that's the end of the summer growing season.
Behind Nessie...the remains of the tomato plants.
Nessie Ray was out helping me survey the freeze effects and is very much more interesting to look at than are the dreary brown/black plants behind her. Nessie had a very difficult molt this autumn...she is mostly through it now and her winter coat is thick and velvety feeling. For a time her coat looked pretty raggedy and her disposition matched it. No longer though...she's all spruced up and smooth.

The second factor that confirms winter is that the mighty Princess...Gracie Rae...crept up onto our bed and slept for several nights. Bobby Ray sleeps with us every night...not Gracie though. She finds various locations around the house to spend her nights but she is an excellent indicator of cold weather because when the cold shows up...so does she. Otherwise...it is a bit beneath her to sleep with the peasants.

The sweet gum tree in our backyard is about 3/4ths of the way through losing all of its leaves and they made a nice carpet on this day.
Sweet Gum Leaves.
So...once the tomato plants die off and the Princess Gracie shows up in bed at night...that's the beginning of winter for me. What the calendar says doesn't matter.

Welcome Mr. Winter...

You can be a much more gracious companion for all the seasons and for all the Earthlings if you live your life as an ethical vegan.



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Jolly Halloween wish...

Enjoy your Halloween please. If you like "vintage" images
such as these...
You can see lots more images here.


For those who prefer some horror to accompany their Halloween, you can take a look (open a pdf table) at the results of the ghoulish and murderous behavior of the "wildlife services" department, financed by our tax money, at this link.

Remember...if you don't want to be a meanie this Halloween or any other time...please live as an ethical vegan.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What might have been...

Recently I saw a documentary produced and directed by Rory Kennedy titled "Ethel". The documentary is ostensibly about the wife of Robert F. Kennedy and Rory Kennedy, the documentary producer, is also the youngest child of Robert Kennedy. So the film is theoretically about the directors mom...but actually you see lots of her dad in it too.

Robert's wife Ethel was slightly pregnant at the time of his murder and Rory Kennedy was born many months after her father died so she never knew him. She was raised by her mother and this was, I thought, what she was attempting to highlight in the work...that no matter the legacy of her father Robert...it was Ethel who raised the children after his murder and passed on whatever foundations and values they have.

One thing I didn't remember was that while Robert Kennedy was the Attorney General of the United States, his wife Ethel was arrested and charged with and tried in court for horse theft. She had found several starving and neglected horses in a barn and brought them to her place to care for them. Apparently the owner of the horses pressed charges against her.  

What might have been? One thing the film touched on was Robert Kennedy's strong friendship with a personal hero of mine....Cesar Chavez.  And Mr. Chavez was a hero of mine from way way back to the great grape boycott of the 1960's. Mr. Chavez was a strong supporter of human rights and justice as was Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Chavez became enlightened enough, eventually, to extend his understanding of justice and rights to other animals....and at the last of his life he lived as an ethical vegan.

JFK, MLK, RFK (John F. Kennedy, Martin L. King and Robert F. Kennedy)...three sets of initials belonging to three different men...but all appeared to live lives where the pursuit of and support of human rights and justice for all human animals was a very very important value to them. All three of these men were murdered during a brief (less than 5 year span) period while I was a young man. I was reminded of the hope and belief that existed for a time (before their murders) that this country would actually strive to live up to the ideal of "created equal". I was reminded of the despair and sorrow and sense of loss their murders elicited in me...and in a real way that still resides in me and I truly believe the United States and the world would be a very different place had those men not been murdered.

None of those three were vegans...but Robert's good friend Cesar Chavez came to veganism later in his life. MLK's widow, Coretta Scott King, came to veganism later in her life as did their son, Dexter Scott King. People devoted to human equality and human rights and human justice realized that those notions of rights and justice belong to all living beings....not just human beings. What might have been had those three advocates not been murdered? We murdered three of the best of ourselves. And we did it...no "foreign enemy", no "evil outsiders". Their deaths represent, to me, a far far greater tragedy and loss and wounding than anything that has happened to this nation since then.

And...it just might be...that our fellow animals were harmed just as deeply as we were....what might have been had one or more of those folks lived to evolve into advocates for ethical veganism.



  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Haunted...

is a reasonably good word (and seasonable...seeing as how this is the month of Halloween...but make no mistake...this is about horror but not a fun horror) to describe my reaction to this post over on the very fine Animal Rights blog.

I'm going to reproduce it here because it is not too long and I think it should be reproduced....again and again.

The post:

My Vegetarian Child and Her Melt-Down

Came home last night to 6 year-old kid on couch, sobbing her head off.  Husband tells me it's because of a scene in the movie they're watching, in which two dogs (cartoon dogs) fight --and one almost falls of a cliff.

She's just bawling.
I sit between them and look at Husband, bewildered.  He whispers, "She's also upset about Thanksgiving."

I whisper, "What? Why?" before the epiphany hits that they're probably talking about turkeys at school and daycare all the live-long day.

He whispers, "The turkeys."

Of course she hears us; we're right there.  And she just Loses her Shit.  Oh my god.

"Why do people eat animals? why why why why why? I wish the whole world were vegetarian. Why why why why why??"

She's just sobbing. Her eyes are puffing up and everything.

I'm so saddened and so surprised, as I always am, because I just try to play this vegetarian/vegan life we have on the down-low.  She asked me last week if she could have the chocolate milk at school on Fridays and I said yes.   But, of her own accord, she is consuming fewer and fewer animal products.

Then, she reminded me of the story she told me last year, about one of her friend's uncles shooting a bear.  "For a carpet!" she sobs last night.  "He killed a bear for a carpet!"
Then, she's inarticulate for a while.

I look at Husband.  Part of me wanted to whisper, "She doesn't know the half of it" ( but I remembered her excellent hearing.  I thought to myself:  imagine if she heard what I just heard at my meeting at the Humane Society).


She cheered up a bit when I told her that more and more people were stopping eating meat and that more and more people were reducing it in their diets.  And that I just came from a place where people love animals too.

She liked that.  (I had recently talked to a friend who told me his 12-year old boy was freaking out about climate change. I told him to tell him about activists for the environment, that people were working hard for it.  He thought that was a good idea.)

Then, I gave her a candy I managed to dig out of the bottom of my bag (might've been older than she was).  She chewed it quietly and calmed down.

I felt wretched.  I still do.  I had never wanted to make her so sad.  I am trying to figure this out.

One of the things that isn't often talked about when we consider ethical veganism is the suffering and horror that is inflicted on human children as they are made into unwitting bystanders and/or accomplices in the depravity that is at the heart of exploiting and killing sentient beings for profit or fun.

The suffering and misery and pain we inflict on our fellow animals doesn't stop just with them...when our children realize what is happening they are tainted by that knowledge and they feel pain too.

Are we witless? Doesn't the sorrow of this human child...of all the human children tell us something? Instead of stopping and changing our behavior we try to hide it from them...we lie to them...we distort reality for them. We damage their ability to clearly perceive the world around them. We do all these things to ourselves too but doing these sorts of reality-scuttling operations on children is much worse because it deforms them as they grow...it twists how they see the world...it blinds them and makes them crooked. They look to us to help them comprehend their world...and we gift them with lies and distortions and minimizations and avoidances and euphemisms.

We all were once them, and each of us who came to veganism as adults, we each have had to struggle with seeing clearly, with regaining our sight, as it were, with being able to see our behavior toward other animals as it is...not as we were told it was. We were gifted with the added misery of having to accept our own complicity in the ongoing horror story of we human animals. All because we got twisted when we were small. And part of the reason we got twisted was because no one wants to cause a small child pain. No parent wants to see their child in misery....no society wants to see its children suffering. But our parents and our society cheated...instead of evaluating and changing the behaviors that caused the misery...they lied...they hid things...they distorted...they sabotaged reality and in so doing they damaged our ability to see....to comprehend...to know.

The original harm...exploiting and hurting and killing our fellow animals was compounded by more harm...by lying and hiding and twisting what we were doing...instead of just stopping the harming.

I'm upset tremendously simply by writing about this...I have thought about this post over and over ever since I read it. There's a big big truth here if only we will not hide it from ourselves.

The mother writes that she had never wanted to make her child so sad...she didn't...the truth made her child sad. And we have fashioned a truth...the truth of our treatment of our fellow animals into a truth that is sad...that should make anyone sad. Anything that sad and terrible demands that it be ended...that it be changed, most especially since it is unnecessary...it does not have to be that way.

But...those that create this truth generally don't feel that sadness...they hide from it....they hide it from themselves...but it doesn't disappear...it doesn't become any less sad because of the hiding or avoiding. It sits there waiting, becoming more and more monstrous the longer it continues...waiting to be encountered by an innocent child's eyes and heart...and it wounds her just as it wounds all of us. But hers is a special wounding because she is powerless and guiltless and innocent. She had no hand in making it this way. It is our legacy to her...and it is a miserable thing.

Shame on us...shame on those who harm...shame on those who use our animal relatives...for goodness sake! We can do better than this, we can't leave the world in the hands of the liars and the wounders and the hurters and the killers and the profiteers and the thieves. We mustn't. We owe this little girl much more than that...we owe our fellow animals much more than that...we owe our planet much more than that....we even owe ourselves much more than that.

I admire and respect these parents so very much. I have no doubt that human beings as a whole would be a much better and kinder and brighter group if all parents were like these. I can only ache for them and thank them and apologize to them and their daughter for the behavior of my fellow human animals. Living as an ethical vegan means not inflicting gratuitous misery on our fellow animals...it also means not inflicting gratuitous misery on our own children either. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Shmoo

For those of you who don't remember Al Capp you might want to read about one of his creations, the Shmoo. My wife recently asked me if I remembered Shmoos and that prompted me to refresh my memory about his work. Mr. Capp was a complex and interesting fellow who became rather embittered in his later years. You can learn more about him and his work by following the links provided.

The Shmoo was a mythical animal he introduced in his cartoon strip Li'l Abner in 1948. This little being rapidly became a national phenomenon, according to the Wikipedia article. Some of the characteristics of the Shmoo were:
  • They reproduce asexually and are incredibly prolific, multiplying exponentially faster than rabbits. They require no sustenance other than air.
  • Shmoos are delicious to eat, and are eager to be eaten. If a human looks at one hungrily, it will happily immolate itself — either by jumping into a frying pan, after which they taste like chicken, or into a broiling pan, after which they taste like steak. When roasted they taste like pork, and when baked they taste like catfish. (Raw, they taste like oysters on the half-shell.)
  • They also produce eggs (neatly packaged), milk (bottled, grade-A), and butter—no churning required. Their pelts make perfect bootleather or house timber, depending on how thick you slice it.
  • They have no bones, so there's absolutely no waste. Their eyes make the best suspender buttons, and their whiskers make perfect toothpicks. In short, they are simply the perfect ideal of a subsistence agricultural herd animal.
  • Naturally gentle, they require minimal care, and are ideal playmates for young children. The frolicking of shmoon is so entertaining (such as their staged "shmoosical comedies") that people no longer feel the need to watch television or go to the movies. (source)
Looking at the fantasized features ascribed to Shmoos, we can perhaps see that many of our cultural narratives surrounding our exploitation of animals more closely resembles a cartoon strip than it does reality. We prefer to think our fellow animals just want to serve us and that they gladly give up their freedom and their lives to satisfy our whims and our appetites...that they don't mind and certainly they don't suffer...or if they do, their suffering is brief and they willingly endure it...all just for us. (Aren't we special?)

We can enjoy fantasy...just as we can enjoy cartoons...but when we confuse fantasy with reality about our fellow animals, there is often a severe price to pay. Sadly, most human animals inflict that price on the innocent of the Earth...our fellow animals. Cows are not Shmoos, chickens are not Shmoos, pigs are not shmoos...no real animal is a shmoo. None. They value their lives, just as we do ours, and their lives belong to them...not us.

Unless you are living as an ethical vegan...you are likely, on some level, to be guilty of inhabiting cartoonland...not reality. Time to grow up and become a responsible member of the community of life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A request...

There is a movie named Margin Call that seems to me to provide some compelling illustrations of some of the things I wrote about in my previous post regarding market values. The comments on that post were cogent and stimulating enough that I've found myself thinking about their content a number of times.

My request is that you watch this movie with the post about corruption in mind. Watch this movie and try to identify folks exhibiting corrupted behavior and values...Or maybe no one exhibits corruption. Whatever the case is, please watch and let me know what you think. Who's the bad guy(s) in the movie? Are there any bad gals or guys? By the way...the movie is particularly well done (I thought) and does an excellent job of summing up some of the major factors which helped drive the recent (and ongoing) economic debacle...and does so in such a way that doesn't make you go to sleep...or start twitching.

An apology is in order for the decrease in my posting. I've been (and still am) struggling with some computer issues that have interfered with my online time. They are still occurring, so I can't be certain that more delays won't happen. Technology can be useful...it also can be unreliable.

And...if you want to reduce your own corruption level...one way of doing so is to go vegan. The planet and our fellow animals will thank you (and me too).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Corruption...

Is an evocative word...usually of not so pleasant things. A politician taking bribes, decay, contamination....these are all meanings given by dictionaries (source, source).

In a book titled "What Money Can't Buy", author Michael J. Sandel points out that we often associate corruption with ill-gotten gains. He then notes that the word also means, when referring to a good or a social practice, degrading or treating something (or someone) to a lower mode of valuation than is appropriate to it. (p.34). His book is full of examples where "market values" have come into vogue as a way of looking at things and as a way of allocating 'resources'. Proponents of this way of looking at virtually everything argue that there's nothing wrong with such a view and indeed this is an efficient and fair and neutral way of operating in the world.

It seems that there is a serious and disturbing 'unintended consequence' of using the "market" as an allocator of goods and services and that is that there is a persistent and ubiquitous tendency of the "market" way of allocation and market-oriented way of thinking to displace nonmarket ways of thinking and allocating.

For me, the most potent and stimulating point in this book is that we have slowly and imperceptibly tumped over from a society with a "market economy" to a market society. In my lifetime I have seen this and been disturbed by this but until reading this book had never quite put it into clarifying and useful terms. Sandel says this has happened without serious and persistent public debate and one of the main thrusts of the book is that a public debate about this needs to occur.

Those interested can read reviews of this book here and here.

Simply put...ethical veganism is, in one way of looking at it, as a call to change how we value living animal beings that are not human animal beings. They have been relegated to a calculus or "valuation method" that "corrupts" their essence, their 'worth' and that must be changed. Justice, morality, compassion and "common sense" all demand and require a change. Our fellow animals have been "corrupted", lowered to a way of seeing and thinking and feeling about them that is below the truth of them, ....and ethical veganism is a way of "repairing the world"...at least in this aspect.

For this to happen, I believe, is going to require a lot more than just according our fellow living beings the respect and freedom that is theirs. A lot more. Because unless and until we "get our heads and hearts straight" about our planet, about our environment, about our place in those and about how we live in this world our fellow animals are not going to be safe from us. We are dangerous...not only to our planet and the other life thereon...but also to ourselves. How could we have practiced slavery on ourselves for as long as we have without being, maybe, somehow deranged?

Look at how seemingly difficult living with justice (fairness, equality) appears to be for human animals. Look at the length of time, thousands and thousands of years, "market values" dominated our thinking about human animals. It is astonishing (to me anyway) to realize that human slavery was everyday practice (and disgustingly enough, still is, albeit not "legally") for most of the recorded history of our species. From what I could find, it seems that the last country to legally abolish slavery did so only 31 years ago (1981). And even then, they didn't 'criminalize' it until 2007. Put it another way...it was only 5 years ago (2007) that it finally became a criminal offense in all human societies to "own" another human animal being. Think of how many thousands of years there have been human animal societies.

It is amazing to me....that the injustice of and unfairness of one human animal "owning" another human animal's life has only been prohibited by law with criminal penalties, everywhere on planet Earth, for only 5 years. Appalling. (And I know full well these despicable practices still exist and still occur even though universally illegal)  In truth, whatever pit we've been crawling out of, either we are so slow as to be enshrined in Ripley's Believe It or Not, or the pit had a depth which is maybe immeasurable. If this sort of stuff doesn't make you shake your head...well...wow....just wow.

Check out Sandel's book from your local library. It isn't the most fun read and sometimes is tedious and really doesn't have any answers, only questions...but ...it will likely bring some clarity and some "aha" moments for you to ponder.

It certainly brought to me a new way of thinking about "corruption". In some instances a "market" can be a useful tool. We've become intoxicated however, and have been for a long time, with this powerful but trivial tool. We're like the person with a hammer...everything looks like a nail. Well, the truth is, when you use a "market" to value...you almost invariably "corrupt" that which you are valuing....and your thinking....and yourself....and other beings....and planet Earth.

Look around...there aren't many ills that can be identified as having human origin that can't be traced back...in some degree or another to a corruption by market valuing.










Friday, August 24, 2012

Eye candy...

Few beings are more appealing when they are babies than are bunnies. For proof...take a look:

"China" and sibling.
These babies were born in a local animal shelter and came to Heartland when only 2 days old. The photo was taken when they were about 4 weeks old. Their appeal is a double-edged thing because while baby bunnies look so warm and huggy and beautiful...they grow up. And for many bunnies the growing up results in behaviors that cause them to be avoided and neglected and abandoned and sometimes abused. But...they are, like all babies, beautiful indeed.

Here's a photo of Merlin.

"Merlin"
Merlin is not a baby. He came to us as a grown-up and has been at Heartland for a while. He's not real impressed with us humans. He flinches and cringes when approached and while this is not common in the rabbits that are rescued...neither is it unknown. The likelihood is high that Merlin has been abused...probably he has been hit or struck or hurt or repeatedly terrified in some way by human animals. I'm pleased to report that he is slowly beginning to accept touches and petting and handling without cringing or flinching...but it will be a long time before he is able to trust that an approaching human means him no harm. He has a fairly exuberant personality when not suppressed by humans being near him and it is fun to watch him being his true bunny self when he is allowed to free range in the fenced area near the warrens.

Rescue means not only providing a home for a living being...it also means coping with and attempting to remedy (insofar as possible) the effects of neglect and abuse. It means trying to make up for harms done by others. It means trying to provide opportunities for those rescued to taste some of the good things of life....those good things that are the birthright of every being living on our planet.

"China" and sibling again.
  If you are going to live with a member of another species...it is totally your responsibility to care for them, to meet their needs and to love them and to never never neglect or harm them. That's a big big responsibility and a demanding and daily and sometimes difficult and sometimes expensive undertaking.

Those baby bunnies in the photos will grow and grow and change and change and no one can predict what their adult personality will be like. They will go through adolescence, they will sometimes be grumpy, they may not want to be touched or bothered. They may chew on something they shouldn't...they may fight with another bunny...and on and on.

In other words a bunny is not a toy, nor is any living being. Bunnies aren't stuffed animals, many many bunnies don't care for being picked up once they aren't babies (even many babies protest being lifted off of the ground). The money hungry businesses and individuals that have the blind harmful audacity to "sell" animals care about profit and about the animal only insofar as profit is enhanced by animal. They don't tell the "customer" about bunny behavior....they rely on the "eye candy" appeal of a baby bunny or baby cat or baby dog or baby ferret or baby rat. Living beings are not objects to be bought and sold. Period.

Here's a good measure of the depth of comprehension and understanding an individual or a business has. If they sell or profit from selling animals or any "product" from animals then you are dealing with someone or something who has some serious comprehension, compassion and moral shortcomings. You are dealing with a harmer....with a destroyer...with a contributor to the misery and suffering that exists on planet Earth. Don't support them...we've way too much unnecessary suffering and harm already.

If you want to live with and befriend a member of another species...adopt a homeless Earthling. There are plenty of them. But...educate yourself thoroughly first. Responsible rescuers will be glad and eager to help you learn about the bunny or cat or dog you want to adopt. Responsible rescuers will support you and assist you for as long as you need it. Heartland Rabbit Rescue insists on bringing your new family member to your home...because we want to know where our residents are living....we want to know who they are living with...we want to know they will be well cared for...we want to know they (and you) will be happy with one another. That is the way of not increasing misery, that is the way of doing no harm, that is the way of contributing to joyous life...not sadness.

Sometimes people who want to adopt get put off by our insistence in knowing about them, about their home. It is likely they are thinking "it's just an animal, why is this information your business?". Well, we're all "just an animal" and we're all equally important and worthy of care and respect. That bunny they may want to adopt has been failed by humans before...or they wouldn't be with us...so we're going to do everything we can to avoid another failure. Merlin and China and all the other bunnies deserve that. And that's what Heartland does. We're there for the bunnies...not the humans. Once a bunny comes to Heartland...they are forever a Heartland bunny...if circumstances cause a bunny to have to leave their adopted home...we take the bunny back. We are their "forever" home. Because each of us deserves a forever home...

Any rescue organization that behaves in these ways is an organization that is doing their part to repair the world. We human animals are responsible for a horrid amount of "breaking of the world"...much repair needs doing. Responsible and caring rescue organizations and facilities are doing their part to repair that which has been broken.

And...obviously....living as an ethical vegan is absolutely necessary to contribute to that repairing of the world.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jojo resurgent...

I recently wrote about Jojo, a bunny rescued by Heartland Rabbit Rescue. He was the victim of neglect (and/or abuse) and had suffered severe urine scald which caused the hair on his stomach, back legs, 'nethers' and his tail to fall out...as well as causing lesions on his skin. In just two weeks he recovered wonderfully, as you can see, and he is well on his way to being fully haired again.
Jojo, after and before.
He is a rather exuberant bunny and it is a joy to see him playing and running. He is developing his jumping skills and has become almost impossible to contain in any enclosure without a fairly sturdy top on it. He easily sails over the 30 inch wire we use for outdoor playpens and he makes it look effortless. He's a real hoot.

By the way, I used the term "hair" deliberately...many us human animals do not realize that "fur" and "hair" are interchangeable terms that refer to exactly the same thing. So, Jojo happily has an increasing amount of fur or hair on his lower body and I have a decreasing amount of fur or hair on top of my head. Who says there's no balance in the universe?

Please live the animal friendly, planet friendly and health friendly way...as an ethical vegan. Thank you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The 'ease' of destruction...

The cocoon of the "consumer" culture that occupies the dominant position in these here United States (and in European culture in general) offers, nay enforces, an obliviousness that is sometimes difficult to appreciate. Difficult partially because we are encouraged and urged and pressured to be oblivious to our obliviousness. And while blindness may hide awareness of monsters from us, it also eases our way toward behaving monstrously.

The "average" American is a monster from the viewpoint of our fellow animals. Each American, with the exception of the woefully few practicing ethical veganism, participates in...directly or by proxy...in the confinement and suffering and killing of billions of animals each year. Every day you or some that you know cause terror and pain and death to chickens and cows and pigs and sheep and and and. Every day.

And most are able to do this without hearing one scream or groan or cry or moan from their victims. Most are able to do this without seeing blood, without smelling fear or feces, without observing the despair or horror or terror. How nice...for the "average" American...for those enslaved and/or dying...not so "nice".

I've written previously about obliviousness (and here and here) but not about how effortlessly most are led into being destroyers of life, into being terrorists to our fellow earthlings . Look around, look at your friends, at your family members...look at the schoolchildren, at the teacher, at the clerk in the store, at the newscaster, at the celebrity. See the blood on their hands, around their mouths...nope....all hidden....all sanitized away. No trail of bloody corpses behind their backs, no blood dripping knife is seen. Zip zoop...all gone. Thanks to the 'miracle' of the ease of destruction. The baby cows are torn from their mothers...for that ice cream "treat"...does the child eating that treat hear the cries of the baby? The moans and bellows of the mother, her thrashing and pacing? Does the child eating the treat watch and smell and hear the baby being killed? Nope, zip zoop...all gone, all hidden...now easily denied and ignored.

We have succeeded in making ourselves (most of us, anyway) into pseudo-innocent monsters. Ready to be outraged and angered should anyone accuse us of being harmers of our fellow animals. With our lying, deliberate ignorance many are ready to be offended and disturbed should anyone point out the truth of our destructiveness. After all, that's one of the benefits of the ease of destruction.

Apologies to P. F. Sloan for the variance on the title of his song "Eve of Destruction". Just as the song laments our disbelief that we are on the eve of destruction...we are truly and deeply disposed toward denying and ignoring our "ease of destruction".

And my apologies to my fellow animals for this denial and for their misery and death and for my own years of blindness. I will never be able to make up for my own participation in this debacle...but I participate no more and will spend the rest of my days helping with the rescuing of my fellow animals  and advocating for them.

For those who try to avoid reality by conning themselves with the notion that those who are about to die do not know what is happening...I offer this photo. Anyone that doesn't grasp that the rabbit in the picture knows what her/his fate is...well.
You are most assuredly attempting to console yourself with an untruth.

The bunny knows, just as the cow knows, the turkey knows, the pig knows...the only ones who don't are the oblivious human animals who support these atrocities.

There's a quote that floats around on the internet which is maybe fitting here. Supposedly voiced by Leonardo da Vinci at some time or another.

We all are encouraged to not see, make sure you let yourself see when you are shown...and once you see...opt out of the ease of destruction. Please begin now if you haven't already...to live an ethical vegan lifestyle...stop participating in this nightmare.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

On behalf of Jojo...

Jojo is pictured on the left (sorry for the quality of the photo, I haven't had a good picture taking session with him yet). He is colored with the markings of the sort of bunny that is called Dutch. If you take the time to read the article I've linked to, you will discover that those markings were developed by folks living in England who fiddled around with "breeding" rabbits. He belongs to a popular grouping...you can even purchase items to wear or carry that advertise your liking for "Dutch" rabbits.

I'm reluctant to use the term "breed". I find it sort of offensive....in a number of ways. For one, it reminds us of our own arrogance...who in hell are we to be playing with the reproductive behaviors and pardners of someone else?

Use of the word "breed" is also used to obscure the individuality of each of the beings that are tagged with the term. Cliches like the notion that pit bulls are aggressive, they're "bred" for it (Petey, the dog with the ring around the eye on the old our gang movies, was a pit bull...real scarey huh?). In truth, it is a stupifying term. It may seduce you into thinking you know more than you do.

You know as much about an animal when you are told their "breed" as you do when you are told that a human animal is Finnish or Korean.  You may have some information about their external appearance (no guarantee necessarily) but except for that it is up to you to become familiar with the particular personalities, dispositions, likes, dislikes, etc of the individual in question. Stereotypes abound...but if you think you actually know anything about the Finnish human or the Korean without knowing them...guess what....you're probably wrong.

Moving on from the breed rant (smile) brings me back to Jojo, which is where I started. He's not a baby, nor is he an oldster...he's probably anywhere from a year to three years old...and that's a guess. He's really needy right now, any human he sees is vamped mercilessly by his standing up and stretching toward them. He wants attention, petting on the head, holding...needy, needy. He's also un-neutered. He's been with us for a couple of weeks, is feeling better and safer so now he also gifts the Heartland director with a urine spray when he sees her (he thinks she's cute).

On behalf of Jojo, I want to protest this:
What you see are lesions and the absence of hair covering the lower part of his body most likely because of urine scald. Jojo was forced to sit in urine for long, long periods. We're talking days, weeks, months. All because....well....because somebody failed to properly care for him.

By the way, I blocked out Jojo's "privates" because I didn't know if he would object to my showing them to others or not. He probably wouldn't care...but better to err on the side of caution.
In the lower picture you can see Jojo's tail. He still has a bit of hair on the end of it so that it looks a little like a poodle dog tail after one of those strange haircuts some of them are subjected to.

Jojo now appears to be on the mend. His "dehaired" areas are not nearly as red and raw looking as are in the photos and evidence of fuzz can be seen on much of the bare skin. Maybe all his hair will grow back. Maybe.

Jojo, right now, has a lap rabbit disposition. He really really really likes being held and petted. We can speculate that he was isolated and lonely, we know he was neglected...severely....but beyond that...we'll probably never know his history. Jojo doesn't speak English...

But I do...and I can object, I can protest...on his behalf. And I do. We human animals have no business being in control of other animals, none...but when we arrogate the power to ourselves to be so...then with that power goes the obligation to provide a safe, clean, rich and comfortable environment for them...one that meets all their needs. Jojo didn't have that...and I object and protest about this failure...on his behalf.

For a really good post about our arrogance and its impact on other animals you can read this offering over at the Vine Sanctuary News.

Living as an ethical vegan is the only way of behaving that I know of that approaches honoring and respecting the rights of Jojo, and all other sentient beings, to the life to which they are entitled. If you aren't doing that...why not?  Really....why not? If you are...then thank you...both from me and (I think I can speak for him) from Jojo.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Art can be uplifting...

John Banovich is an artist, a painter. Here's an example of his work:
Colors...John Banovich

All of the images you will see in this post are from the 2012 Prix de West show which is held annually in Oklahoma City. John Banovich usually has some pieces there and ever since I discovered his work and his philosophy I've enjoyed both. He set up a foundation to promote and assist in conserving wild places and animals.

He writes: "Art can move, reveal, and inspire us to seek a deeper understanding of the world around us. It can paint a face on an issue, cause, region, or species."

One of our annual rituals is to attend the Prix de West art show and wander through the various pieces and experience reactions to the works presented. Invariably delight will occur, sometimes awe...sometimes disgust. It is always a provoking and mostly enjoyable journey and this year was no exception.

My wife is an artist, a skilled and excellent one. I have a painting of a buffalo that she did for me that hangs where it is often the last thing I see at night before I go to sleep. I love that painting. I can't create art like that...artists with talent do art and that excludes me.

What's art? One of my takes on what it is that it is one of the very very few things human animals do that brings a good thing to the world. Some visual works of art, some music...created by humans is simply exquisite...almost (not quite though) as beautiful as the planet Earth and the beings that live there.  And...the fact is many of the other animals do seem to enjoy and may even be moved by some of our music.

Art and some medicine and healing activities are about the only things that human animals are able to do that has brought a unique positive contribution to our world, at least it seems so to me. We've pretty much managed to distort any of our other abilities and behaviors and "creations" into nightmare destructo insanities that put anything, except maybe the aftermath of a severe virus, to shame. 

Because I actually like to think good things about human animals I always look forward to this annual art show...there are almost always some excellent and fun and enjoyable and powerful works there...and this year was no exception. My 2012 favorite:

Sioux...Dan Ostermiller
This sculpture is about 5 feet tall, almost 3 feet wide and deep...it is massive and absolutely demands that you smile. I don't often crave artworks...but if I had an extra $50,000 and all the other animals and the planet were safe and protected...I would have taken that bear representation home with me in a moment. It is a treat. My next most favorite piece looks as if it were living, glimmering liquid.
Ripple...Ross Matteson

The duck and the water are made from black Belgian marble. They looked as if you could stick your finger into them...like they were some shimmering liquid with form. Stunning.

Those two pieces were worth the trip and the cost and the time. Everything else was simply a bonus...and there were many other enjoyable works from the artists. These for instance:

Gladness



First is a painting of a couple of beautiful foxes, much of what made this painting so powerful was the way the artist used the paint to depict light...it almost glowed.




El Pollo Loco





The rooster was a treat. Proud, brave and defiant...he was created by the same artist that did the bear sculpture.






Wild Iris



This painting of the iris was very evocative and eye-catching. The detailed renderings of the trees, branches and flowers were excellent and beautiful.







You can use this link to browse through photos of most of the whole art show. Just remember though that the photos in no way, shape or form convey the power or excellence of these works. You must be in the room with them to get the full effect...some are almost living and breathing. If you live in central Oklahoma go in person...if you live elsewhere find some venues where you can go experience some art. What little respect I have for our species is immeasurably bolstered by some of our artworks. Somehow, good and true art nourishes and enhances those who experience it.

Nourishing and enhancing (or at least not harming) our planet and all life requires that we live an ethical vegan lifestyle...but you already knew that.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Transforming...

that's the only word I can think of that comes close to capturing my experience over the past couple of years. It has been that long that I've been volunteering on a regular basis out at Heartland Rabbit Rescue. I still am unable to verbalize how I've been transformed or even why...but I know something has shifted irrevocably within me and some (if not most) of it has to do with being around these remarkable beings so regularly.
How could anyone not be affected? Certainly not me. To the left you see a baby recently rescued...she was about 4 months old when she came in and she begs for attention much like a puppy. When she spots a human she stands up asking to be picked up and fussed over. She was running the streets and someone took her and called Heartland.

But she is only one of dozens and dozens of abandoned and neglected and abused bunnies that live at the rescue. I've been lucky enough to come to know each and every one that live in the south warren (right now 78 bunnies I think). That's a lot of personalities, that's a lot of different rabbits to get to know. I've never ever known that many non-human animals all at once in my whole life. Some I am smitten with, others I strongly like...there are none that I dislike. If I were to become very familiar with 78 human animals all at once the outcome would be quite different. To know so many rabbits all at the same time is one hell of an experience. They are amazing individuals. And I don't know nearly them as well as I want to, I don't know them nearly as well as does Jeanne Patterson, the founder and director of Heartland...she's is with them many more hours a day than I am and has been surrounded by rabbits for many many years. I'm in awe of her knowledge about bunnies.

To the right is Cutie (again) and Simon and Dustin. Simon and Dustin are old hands at the rescue. Simon is pictured while he is running loose on the warren grounds...Cutie and Dustin are confined in outside enclosures so they can have some playtime. The confining is necessary because bunnies are very prone (especially when young) to engage in dominance activities (they fight) and separation in necessary to prevent injuries. Were it safely possible...we would let them all run free.

It is a phenomenal thing see all these guys and gals almost everyday.

We're able to get 20 to 25 of them outside each day for a couple of hours early in the morning...that's the only time the temperature is low enough for them to be out...now that the blistering days of summer are setting in here in central Oklahoma. Bunnies can't sweat hence temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit begin to be risky for them. They dig and binky and play when they first go out then as it warms up many will dig out an area and lay in the cool dirt.

 Here's Pippin, about whom I wrote back in August, napping in an area he scooped out so he could be next to the cool earth.

The level of play and running and jumping and nosing around is fairly closely tied to the age of the bunny. Just like human animals...if you go to a first grade playground you're going to see very different behavior than if you go to some park area where a bunch of 50 or 60 year old human animals are hanging out. The outdoors is enjoyed by everyone of all ages...they just act differently while doing the enjoying.

I guess that's a big part of the transform. It has become an indisputable fact to me as a result of my interaction with these bunnies that they are as different from one another as human animals are different from one another. Each one is a unique individual who shares some similarities with the other rabbits, just as we humans share similarities yet at the same time they differ each from the other...just as human animals do. They are as complex and as sensitive and as emotional and as intelligent as human animals...they just show these phenomena differently than human animals do. And, just like us, they vary one from the other on the range of sensitivity, emotionality, intelligence that they possess and those features vary in strength and precision depending on how the bunny is feeling and what situation the bunny is in...just like human animals. Some are elegant and graceful, others are sort of clumsy and galumphing, some are acrobatic, some aren't.

They tend to be full of beans and boisterousness and play when very young, when they're adolescents they can be real jerks and are prone to stir up trouble, once they reach adulthood they tend to be calmer and more mellow but still full of energy...(and some are feistier than others) as they enter their later years they may get grumpy and cranky and quirky. They may get arthritis, they may like to doze...their senior years are so much like humans that if you dressed them up in a human suit you probably wouldn't notice much difference at all. Except the rabbit would probably be more appreciative of dinnertime...they do tend to enjoy their food. And they don't talk much...although they do have a rather wide range of grumps, honks and growls (or a scream in an emergency) they can trot out...and some talk much more than others.

Their interests differ from us...because...well because they are rabbits. They have a different evolutionary history than we do...they've traveled a different path...learned different things...developed different skills and strengths. But...where they are identical is that they are children of this planet...just like we are. They have feelings, they think, they feel joy, they feel attachment, they feel fear, they feel hunger, thirst, heat, cold, illness, sleepiness...and on and on and on. They love their children, sometimes they love their brothers and sisters and parents...sometimes not. Some have a good sense of humor and like to tease and be teased...others do not.

Howard
Howard for instance...the big galooty white fellow I wrote about in an earlier post has as mellow and fun a personality as you could ask for. He often likes to be chased...he will put on the most excellent head-fakes and high-jumps you could ask for and then he stops and watches you to make sure you are still participating in the game.

And then there is Brett, who has a disposition that is so amazingly sweet and friendly. He patiently will let a human hold him and if you sit down near him he will climb up in your lap and put his hands on your chest asking you to pet him. He also likes to tease Marshall and Russell...two sort of macho acting bunnies that live at the warren. 
And what I'm now certain of is if I had the opportunity and time to get to know 70 dogs or bats or weasels or pigs or cows or horses or wombats or sparrows or or or...I would find exactly what I have found with the rabbits. Each one is different from the others, each one is an individual.  Each one is unique....and yet...we're all the same in that we're all just trying to get by, the best way we know how.

In the end, it is the emotional universe we inhabit that matters most to us. We tend to seek that which increases our good feelings and tend to avoid that which prompts unpleasant feelings. In this respect (and many others)...a rabbit is me and I am a rabbit. We each are children of Mother Earth. We each were valued enough by her to bring us into being.

Ingrid Newkirk is supposed to have said:  "When it comes to having a central nervous system, and the ability to feel pain, hunger, and thirst, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy". There are lots of other feelings that are common to all of us...probably all feelings....whatever I can feel...any living being with a central nervous system can feel. Time for us human animals to step off of our self presented pedestals and realize that all of us...all living beings are in this living stuff together...and no one is any more equal or better than anyone else.

Well, except for the bunnies that are called Dutch. Many of the Dutch bunnies (who originate from England...go figure) I have met seem to be pretty impressed with themselves.
Here's Griffin, he's Dutch...and I must admit he's quite an impressive fellow. He may well be better than all of us...but he isn't an a**hole about it...that's better than many human animals do when they get bitten with the superiority virus.

Living as an ethical vegan is the only way I know of that honors the lives of my brothers and sisters, the rabbits, the gophers, the birds, the kangaroos...all the many sorts of children that Mother Earth chose and living as an ethical vegan also honors Mother Earth's power to choose the children she wants. She's much more wise than I am...and wiser than you too...I betcha!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

An eloquent vegan...

That's certainly an accurate description of Phillip Wollen. You can click on his name and go to the home page of an organization he started called the Kindness Trust, there you can learn more about him and his work on behalf of animals and on behalf of the planet.

Better yet, take a few minutes and listen to him speak.




Below is the transcript of his talk. If you don't have time or don't want to listen you can read his remarks. But you really ought to listen...the Aussie accent is great. The link will take you to the page where the complete article about the debate he was participating in can be read.

On behalf of St James Ethics Centre, the Wheeler Centre,
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, The Age
The City of Melbourne and the ABC
All of whom have worked together to make this event possible
I would like to welcome
Philip Wollen

((Applause))
King Lear, late at night on the cliffs asks the blind Earl of Gloucester “How do you see the world?”
And the blind man Gloucester replies “I see it feelingly”.
Shouldn’t we all?
Animals must be off the menu because tonight they are screaming in terror in the slaughterhouse, in crates, and cages. Vile ignoble gulags of despair.
I heard the screams of my dying father as his body was ravaged by the cancer that killed him. And I realised I had heard these screams before.
In the slaughterhouse, eyes stabbed out and tendons slashed, on the cattle ships to the Middle East and the dying mother whale as a Japanese harpoon explodes in her brain as she calls out to her calf.
Their cries were the cries of my father.
I discovered when we suffer, we suffer as equals.
And in their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig is a bear. . . . . . is a boy.
Meat is the new asbestos – more murderous than tobacco.

CO2, Methane, and Nitrous Oxide from the livestock industry are killing our oceans with acidic, hypoxic Dead Zones.
90% of small fish are ground into pellets to feed livestock.
Vegetarian cows are now the world’s largest ocean predator.
The oceans are dying in our time. By 2048 all our fisheries will be dead. The lungs and the arteries of the earth.
Billions of bouncy little chicks are ground up alive simply because they are male.
Only 100 billion people have ever lived. 7 billion alive today. And we torture and kill 2 billion animals every week.
10,000 entire species are wiped out every year because of the actions of one species.
We are now facing the 6th mass extinction in cosmological history.
If any other organism did this a biologist would call it a virus.
It is a crime against humanity of unimaginable proportions.
The world has changed.
10 years ago Twitter was a bird sound, www was a stuck keyboard, Cloud was in the sky, 4 g was a parking place, Google was a baby burp, Skype was a typo and Al Kider was my plumber.
Victor Hugo said “there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come”.

Animal Rights is now the greatest Social Justice issue since the abolition of slavery.
There are over 600 million vegetarians in the world.
That is bigger than the US, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Australia combined! If we were one nation we would be bigger than the 27 countries in the European Union!!
Despite this massive footprint, we are still drowned out by the raucous huntin’, shootin’, killin’ cartels who believe that violence is the answer – when it shouldn’t even be a question.
Meat is a killing industry – animals, us and our economies.
Medicare has already bankrupted the US. They will need $8 trillion invested in Treasury bills just to pay the interest. It has precisely zero!!
They could shut every school, army, navy, air force, and Marines, the FBI and CIA – and they still won’t be able to pay for it.
Cornell and Harvard say’s that the optimum amount of meat for a healthy diet is precisely ZERO.
Water is the new oil. Nations will soon be going to war for it.
Underground aquifers that took millions of years to fill are running dry.
It takes 50,000 litres of water to produce one kilo of beef.
1 billion people today are hungry. 20 million people will die from malnutrition. Cutting meat by only 10% will feed 100 million people. Eliminating meat will end starvation forever.

If everyone ate a Western diet, we would need 2 Planet Earths to feed them. We only have one. And she is dying.
Greenhouse gas from livestock is 50% more than transport . . . . . planes, trains, trucks, cars, and ships.
Poor countries sell their grain to the West while their own children starve in their arms. And we feed it to livestock. So we can eat a steak? Am I the only one who sees this as a crime? Every morsel of meat we eat is slapping the tear-stained face of a starving child. When I look into her eyes, should I be silent?
The earth can produce enough for everyone’s need. But not enough for everyone’s greed.
We are facing the perfect storm.
If any nation had developed weapons that could wreak such havoc on the planet, we would launch a pre-emptive military strike and bomb it into the Bronze Age.
But it is not a rogue state. It is an industry.
The good news is we don’t have to bomb it. We can just stop buying it.
George Bush was wrong. The Axis of Evil doesn’t run through Iraq, or Iran or North Korea. It runs through our dining tables. Weapons of Mass Destruction are our knives and forks.

This is the Swiss Army Knife of the future – it solves our environmental, water, health problems and ends cruelty forever.
The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. This cruel industry will end because we run out of excuses.
Meat is like 1 and 2 cent coins. It costs more to make than it is worth.
And farmers are the ones with the most to gain. Farming won’t end. It would boom. Only the product line would change. Farmers would make so much money they wouldn’t even bother counting it.
Governments will love us. New industries would emerge and flourish. Health insurance premiums would plummet. Hospital waiting lists would disappear.
Hell “We’d be so healthy; we’d have to shoot someone just to start a cemetery!”
So tonight I have 2 Challenges for the opposition:
1. Meat causes a wide range of cancers and heart disease. Will they name one disease caused by a vegetarian diet?
2. I am funding the Earthlings trilogy. If the opposition is so sure of their ground, I challenge them to send the Earthlings DVD to all their colleagues and customers. Go on I DARE YOU.
Animals are not just other species. They are other nations. And we murder them at our peril.

The peace map is drawn on a menu. Peace is not just the absence of war. It is the presence of Justice.
Justice must be blind to race, colour, religion or species. If she is not blind, she will be a weapon of terror. And there is unimaginable terror in those ghastly Guantanamos.
If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we wouldn’t need this debate.
I believe another world is possible.
On a quiet night, I can hear her breathing.
Let’s get the animals off the menu and out of these torture chambers.
Please vote tonight for those who have no voice.
Thank you.
 I especially liked the line: "Justice must be blind to race, colour, religion or species. If she is not blind, she will be a weapon of terror."

It is heartening to run across a passionate and excellent advocate for ethical veganism. Thank you Mr. Wollen. (And thanks to Christine...who was impressed enough by the speech that she made a point of letting me know about it.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Attending a human funeral...

is one of the activities that occurs more frequently as we human animals get older. More people that we know or used to know are dying from age related conditions. That's if we're lucky enough to have adequate nutrition, shelter, medical care and live where violence or other factors do not serve to reduce our life span.

I attended one such human funeral this past Monday. The link will take you to a brief obituary if you're interested in knowing about the person who died. She was one of the children in a family that lived near us all during my childhood.  She was considerably older than me and her siblings were also older. But I do remember her and do remember her fondly. She was always pleasant and nice to me and so was all of her family. So I didn't resist the obligation I felt to attend the funeral both to mark her death and as a gesture of respect and support to her surviving family. And...I have an older sister who wanted to attend and she asked me to drive her there. So going to the funeral (and I do not much like funerals) was a task that accomplished a number of things all at once...and I like to be able to do things that way when possible.

Culturally dictated activities like funerals are things that we all do. Here in this part of the country most occur in some religious building or other. This one took place in a Methodist Church. I vaguely remember from a long-ago Anthropology class that the one near universal constant seen in the human animal death ceremony, regardless of the culture, is that there is some sort of procession symbolically representing the journey from life to death. Most funerals here involve some sort of "procession" from the place of the funeral service to the place of burial. On this occasion I only attended the doings called the "funeral service".

One of the reasons I have a distaste for funerals (beside the obvious one of not generally enjoying death) is that most of them occur in a church. And I have some antipathy toward most of the brands of organized religions that I'm familiar with, particularly the Abrahamic religions, especially Christianity...probably because that's the sort of stuff I'm most acquainted with. I just haven't had much of a chance to get offended by other religions.

Suffice it to say I'm not too impressed with the behavior of human animals in general but when we get into some sort of "religious" mode (especially "Christian" or "Islamic")...well...we tend to suck. At least that's my take on it. And please note...I'm not trying to degrade or offend...and I'm not talking about spirituality...which a lot of us tend to confuse with religion. They aren't the same thing. (All in all, I probably lean toward spiritual notions akin to Animism more than anything else.)

Well, one of my more dreaded experiences came to pass at this funeral. The pastor running the event made it much more into some sort of proselytizing event instead of an honoring of the dead person. Which happens way too often...I guess they figure if they have a captive audience they should push their product. Anyway...when he finally got to the rather brief part where he talked about the woman who had died...he related a story that just irritated and saddened me terribly. It still disgusts and saddens me.

The story was that this woman was kind and helpful and competent and accomplished...and one of the accomplishments he talked about was that she was a "big game hunter". He told some story about her shooting and killing a deer and behaving toward the men in her camping group as if it was no big deal...anyone could do it.

Many in the audience laughed as this story of her murdering an innocent and harmless animal was told. I was staring and the floor and struggling not to jump up and ask all those laughing why was murder a funny thing. Why was the death of an innocent being and occasion of humor? Especially at a ceremony marking a death! What kind of religion encourages killing, laughs about killing. She murdered somebody...that's an occasion for shame and sorrow...not laughter. But...I didn't jump up...and part of me still wonders if I didn't betray that dead deer. I guess in a way I did and I feel bad about that. I diminished myself by not confronting the vicious speciesism that was exhibited by that story and by that laughter.

Even looking back...I would still not jump up and confront the ugliness. I wouldn't interfere in whatever processes were going on in the family and friends. The meeting was about honoring a human female who died. But the ugliness and callousness and obliviousness shown by that story will forever mark my memory of that meeting. I will remember my shock at such a story being told and my dismay and sorrow that laughter and smiles greeted the telling. I often wonder if our species isn't fubar.

Here's what I'm going to do. I plan to write that preacher and voice my dismay and sadness that he's so oblivious to innocence and grace and beauty and horror that he tried to build up one living beings existence by presenting her as a murderer. I'm going to ask him if talking about the death of an innocent being honors the killer. I am going to do that. And...I will make a donation to our local wildlife rescue in honor of that long dead deer. And I will always be stained and diminished in some measure because I sat and heard the laughter and did not openly object. And I am diminished and stained because so many human animals think killing is humorous.

Speciesism hurts and diminishes everyone it touches and it permeates this culture. And it is ugly. And ten years ago that story would have only discomforted me, it wouldn't have mortified and offended and outraged me. So I have changed and if I can change...so can others.

 I imagined attending a funeral two-hundred years in the past, and hearing some story supposedly honoring the dead human that involved their killing of an innocent slave or Native American...and I imagined hearing the laughter. And I despair...but I do realize that change from two-hundred years ago has happened and so I can also hope. I know who Donald Watson is, I live as an ethical vegan. So can other human animals. We must.