My last three letters to our local paper (Norman Transcript) have gone unpublished in their print edition. I've presumably exhausted their willingness to allow anyone to speak up for our fellow Earthlings. Prior to this they had been publishing about every 2nd letter I sent. I was really upset by the photo that prompted the letter and wanted to present a different take on what appeared, at first blush, to be a seriously cute and wonderful scene. They did stick it onto their website edition where few look and even fewer can find anything. It is one of the more confusing conglomerations I've ever seen.
You might want to read the comment below the electronic edition wherein I'm characterized as having "gone off the deep end" but maybe it was Disney that did it to me. Such is the mentality of many in central Oklahoma.
Well, at least I can publish it here.
This past Saturday, Sept. 6, the front page of the Transcript featured a color photo of a fuzzy yellow baby duck being petted by an apparently awestruck and delighted young human child. Dominant cultural narratives (made-up stories we tell ourselves to justify our behaviors and perceptions) are rarely examined, indeed much of their power derives from their invisibility. This photo was captioned “Petting Zoo” and presents us with an image of two babies, one a duck and one a human, both who are beautiful in their youth and innocence. We are also presented with some untold life stories.
The baby duck is a prisoner, held in captivity by humans and her (or his) future is likely very bleak. Soon the duck baby will grow and not be a baby. What will happen to her, what does her future hold? One source indicates ducks are killed for food at around 7 weeks of age (ducks can live 10 to 15 years). Petting zoos feature babies of various species; they obtain their attractions by buying or breeding babies. Those youngsters don’t remain babies for long and most zoo operators then either kill the older residents for food or sell them to be killed elsewhere.
So, the photo most likely shows a soon to be dead victim of human willfulness (it isn’t necessary to eat animals for human survival or health) and a small human female who will probably, statistically speaking, grow up to be someone who eats animals. We can now look at this image of two innocent and charming babies and realize that we are seeing a future killer (probably a killer by proxy) looking, with delight and awe, at her future victim. The photograph takes on a whole different tone when we consider what the probable fates are of the two beautiful babies. The photograph loses some innocence and attractiveness once we consider some context.
Someone once wisely said that compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us. Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul. Where there is compassion, even the poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless. Readers might want to remember this next time they’re presented with de-contextualized photographs of currently innocent babies who are future victims and victimizers. We don’t have to harm others or to make our children into those who do harm.
If I'm off the deep end by living vegan...then hooray for the deep end.