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.