Friday, September 30, 2011

A few photos found on facebook...

Mundane horror... 
More mundane horror.
We murder, imprison or fear and avoid any being...that we perceive to be..."different" from ourselves.

In a poem, Ralph W. Emerson once wrote: "Things are in the saddle and ride mankind...". Observing the kinds of behaviors we direct toward those we perceive to be "different" makes it difficult to believe that whatever impels human animals to behave as they do comes from outside themselves...we, ourselves, seem to be the "things in the saddle".

Last pic...

 To be their voice you must live as an ethical vegan, that's just the way it is.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

An obvious conclusion ignored...

In the well done movie Contagion , currently playing in theaters, we are given a look at a potentially deadly problem. The ending presents an obvious conclusion and solution. This conclusion and solution is apparently eluding reviewers and probably most audience members too.

It is serendipitous that I attended this movie right after the previous post. Once again in a movie we are presented with violence toward animals that is ignored and invisibled but in this movie we are given the clear and compelling information that killing and then handling the corpses of the murdered animals is inviting diseases to jump from the victims to the murderers. The whole movie is about the devastation waiting to happen when a viral organism present in another species mutates and begins making the rounds in the human species.

The movie clearly and openly shows this fact yet not a single review that I have read of the movie including ones in The New Yorker,  The New York Times, The Boston Globe or by multiple reviewers referenced at points out the obvious and that is converting to an ethical vegan lifestyle would preclude many if not almost all of such disease transmission.

It is estimated that around 60% of all human infectious diseases and around 75% of all emerging infectious diseases originate in other animals and then are passed directly to humans or mutate and acquire the ability to infect humans. For instance AIDS is believed to have originated in chimpanzees.

Want to reduce or eliminate disease transmission between species...leave the animals alone to live their lives...quit imprisoning them, quit killing them, quit cutting them up and eating them.

Live as an ethical vegan, a compellingly obvious conclusion once you see this movie but apparently nothing is too obvious for culturally induced blindness to make invisible and....based on my sampling of the movie reviews so far...not one sees the obvious.

Go see the movie, it is fairly well done even if mildly shallow and 1950ish feeling, and see if you are able to spot the obvious.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Pledge is a movie...

that I have watched several times. I have a tendency to review or reread (sometimes multiple times) books or movies that resonate with me. For instance, Thelma and Louise is a movie that stuns me each time I see it and I have watched it multiple times. Ridley Scott, the director of Thelma and Louise was one of the first to place a female human into the role of 'hero' of a movie way back in his scary as hell classic Alien. I remember thinking the first time I saw Alien that it was a phenomenal movie and went around hustling friends of mine to go see it. Starman is another movie that knocks me out each time I revisit it although the homage paid to human beings by the alien character played by Jeff Bridges at the end of the movie is a little syrupy and too not true...I wish the makers of the movie had been courageous enough to be more truthful and accurate.

The Pledge is a good movie that is well made and acted with a number of talented folks in it including Jack Nicholson, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Harry Dean Stanton, Sam Shepard and others. Directed by Sean Penn, the movie is about a retired policeman's focus and near obsession on the identification and pursuit and capture of a human that is killing small blond female human children.

This movie is not, by the way, one of the movies I place in a special category I have (Thelma and Louise for instance). This category for books or movies is made up of those that I can return to repeatedly and each time extract something new or can be reminded of some enduring near or actual universal about life or living or nature or something. Either that or they are comedies that extract humor in some way that is timeless to me. Many of Laurel and Hardy's short comedies are in this latter group. The Pledge doesn't quite make it to this classic category although it is a fairly good movie.

I say each time I can extract something new or be reminded of a truthful thing, this might occur because I notice or understand something that had eluded me before or...something new might be apprehended or understood because I have changed since the last time I read or saw this particular work. Of course something like this can happen with any book or movie or artwork or music that is experienced more than once, but some creations are much more pleasant or interesting or thought or feeling provoking when indulged in repeatedly than others.

What was so powerfully apparent to me as I rewatched The Pledge was how much my perceptions had changed since I last saw this movie. Shortly after the beginning is a scene that almost short-circuited my mind as I watched. In it we see Nicholson looking grim after having notified parents that their young child has been murdered, we also see the parents collapsing in grief and anguish. What is absolutely amazing and astonishing in this terrible scene are the thousands of babies surrounding the human characters.
The background of the scene is populated by thousands of baby turkeys.
 The distraught parents are turkey 'farmers' and they were in a turkey 'barn' when notified of their daughter's death by Nicholson's character. These are people who "make a living" by taking baby turkeys away from their parents and imprisoning them in conditions akin to a concentration camp and once the babies reach a given age they then have these babies killed. And they are anguished, destroyed, grief-stricken by the fact that their baby was killed.

This scene, to me, exemplifies the profound schizoid, psychotic like, ignoring and dismissing of elements of reality that characterizes aspects of our culture involving other animals. The horrors these human animal parents engage in as a matter of routine are ignored...not mentioned...not even a whisper and the whole focus is on the anguish and grief and discomfort of the human animals in the scene. The thousands of babies, terrified and lost and facing a certain horrible death instigated by these wounded human parents, serve as nothing but an ignored and dismissed noisy backdrop of feathered children crying in anguish for their parents. I simply was stunned as I watched thousands of victims, thousands of small feathered children...fearful and doomed...relegated to invisibility and the death of one child, one human child presented as if it were the only significant loss and tragedy while all around a multitude of small spirits wailed and asked that their existence and anguish be acknowledged and alleviated.

This ongoing invisibling of our animal sisters and brothers is ubiquitous, "normal" and omnipresent. I see and hear instances of it constantly, everyday and in everyway. From the ignored bodies of animals killed by automobiles laying unmourned and unacknowledged beside the roadway to the "humorous"  representations of cows in commercials telling us to "eat more chickin". We are awash in this invisibling and diminishing of the importance of the lives of those beings that don't look or act or sound like human animals. We swim in it, we breath it and our animal relatives are being killed by the billions, their deaths facilitated by these incessant cultural sermons about the nothingness of the meaning of their lives.

I remember clearly the consternation and confusion and upset and ridicule that accompanied the protestations and objections to racist portrayals of humans that weren't white Europeans. I remember clearly the same sorts of consternations, confusions, upsets and ridiculing that were evoked by protestations and objections to sexist portrayals of humans that weren't male. This still occurs, the battle goes on...objections continue to be raised....ridiculing and dismissals still happen. No cultural wars are won completely and often need to be fought over and over...ignorance and oppression and exploitation and reality avoidance are mighty foes and they never give up and they never go away. They have to be challenged and resisted again and again...anywhere they occur.

I would like to think that the director of this movie and the author of the novella on which it was based were aware of the irony in the scene depicted, that they were making an astute and subtle observation about the narrowness and limitations of our compassions and awarenesses. Whether they were or not, scenes like these must be noticed, commented on and discussed. The herculean task of facilitating awareness of and care for the lives of all beings requires that this happen...but for it to happen common cultural presentations must be clearly recognized for what they are and consciously acknowledged and challenged.

It is incumbent upon all to be willing to be thought of as a crank, as peculiar, as silly, as 'too sensitive', as 'dumb', as whatever...for objecting...but I think that we must again and again object to and challenge cultural messages that minimize, hide, ignore or glorify the infliction of suffering and death on my brother and sister matter what those messages are, no matter how silly it might seem to be to protest...protest we must. Again and again and again.  The messages of ignoring and of invisibling are multiple and incessant and the objections to the billions of hidden and not so hidden tragedies must also be incessant.

If you aren't living as an ethical vegan...why not?. If you are living as an ethical vegan...time to think about how you are going to expand to others the awareness and compassion you have achieved and after deciding how you want to act...then act. Our sister and brother animals need us and they have been without acknowledgement and recognition and consideration for way too long.

As a for instance, I recently discovered that our local city council keeps track of letters to the editor published in our local newspaper about topics the council is interested in. Writing to your local newspaper is an avenue available to most all and using that venue to promote a change in cultural concepts can help in consciousness raising. Every voice is important, every single one...including yours. Recently I managed (astonishingly enough!) to get a letter published locally pointing out the cruelty of 'dairy' and of the hideous ways cows and their babies are treated. We need to make heard the voices decrying injury to or exploitation of sentient beings...the voices of misery and suffering and death have prevailed for way too long.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quinn (the Mighty)...

is a major cutie. His fur coat is grey with some brownish highlights and sort of fluffy so that he looks a little scruffy even when he isn't. Quinn's name was inspired by the Manfred Mann song "Quinn the Eskimo" which was written by the genius Bob Dylan.

Quinn came to Heartland Rabbit Rescue back in August as a result of a call from a local municipal shelter. It seems that Quinn's time had run out and he was at risk of execution because no human family wanted him. The Heartland Director squeezed and squoshed and managed to find a place for Quinn even though Heartland is way over capacity.

Quinn (the Mighty Quinn)
 He was picked up running the streets and we don't know how or one claimed him at the municipal facility and a kind, caring worker there gave Heartland a call and made a plea for him. His is just a baby, maybe a couple of months old.

At first he didn't much want anything to do with humans, but has now figured out that human animals can act pretty decently and he is becoming one of those rare bunnies that endures being carried around, even seeming to actually enjoy it. His personality is maybe 5 or 6 times larger than his physical being (he's a fairly small guy, only a couple of pounds right now) with energy to burn.

At the time of this writing he is having to stay inside his enclosure for a few days because his recent surgery (neutering). Once recovery is far enough along, he'll be going everywhere again with all the life and joy anyone could wish for. Quinn is a real treat to be around, one of those folks that makes you smile when you see him. It is astonishing how much niftiness mother nature can pack into a small package.

I'm writing about Quinn because he is a pleasure worth sharing and because Quinn represents all the many millions of "domesticated" Earthlings that are without a human family to call their own. Quinn could be a poster child for adopting, never ever ever purchasing from a "breeder". Too too many of our brother and sister Earthlings don't have homes.

I helped out with an adoption event recently for a local cat rescue group, Hands Helping Paws, and 28 lucky kittens and cats found homes. Hooray!

Bunnies are a little bit different. They are a little more vulnerable, a little more requiring of some education for proper care and a little more needful of a particular mindset if a good fit is going to be made between a family or human and a bunny. Maybe part of the problem is that the stereotypes of popular culture (for instance, the Easter Bunny) and the reality of rabbit behavior don't match up too well. Suffice it to say that most of us (me included) have to put in some time, effort, attention and learning in order to be in a position to be able to offer adequate care to a rabbit.

This means an adoption event like the one for the kittens would probably not work for the bunnies...oh you might get a number of bunnies into homes, the cute factor for a bunny is off the charts...but the likelihood is high that bunnies would be placed at risk for inadequate care and humans placed at risk for disappointment and upset and failure. These factors mean that bunnies finding a home that works is a fairly intricate and involved operation. Compared to a cat or a dog, a bunny is more 'high maintenance'...not too difficult once you get used to it and care becomes routinized...but definitely different than most humans are familiar with or used to. Which means that learning and change has to happen and that is sometimes tough for humans to accomplish.

Quinn is now safe, Quinn is now loved and Quinn will grow and develop. That's pretty good.

You can do your part in helping make all animals safer and more likely to grow and develop if you live as an ethical vegan. And, for goodness sake, adopt one of the Earthlings without a human family from a shelter...if you can....if you can't then volunteer or donate and help out a shelter or a rescue operation...remember...they are trying to repair or stop the damage we have done to the animals. They are trying to clean up and rectify part of the mess the rest of us have made for living beings on our planet...that's a pretty good thing to do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

When regrets outnumber hopes... the saying goes, then you are old.

I'm old.

I have something like 5,326 regrets and only a few hopes. My regrets are too numerous to specify and I only have one hope that I choose to share.

I hope enough humans begin living as ethical vegans in time to prevent the transformation of this planet into a poisoned desert surrounded by polluted seas populated only by human animals and those few sorts of sentient beings that human animals believe profitable to exploit and kill.

We behave despicably and have done so for thousands of years, my hope is that we stop and the only way to begin to stop is to live as an ethical vegan.

We must begin to acknowledge and embrace the natural world that we are part of and live as good and just members of that community. We must relinquish our childish and willful view of the planet and everything on it as a "resource".

We must.

Not because it is the only thing that will save us (even though it is) but because we have no right to destroy the other beings on this planet or to destroy the environments which those other beings need to survive. I commend Gary Yourofsky and his excellent video where he talks about this evilness in which we are engaged.

The terrible thing is, my hope fact...our only hope.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

All of us animals...

is a phrase that sometimes offends or upsets those humans who are ignorant about their own origin and makeup. "Animal" is a word that carries a lot of human social and psychological weight, most of it negative. Earlier I wrote about the fact that the constituents of our DNA are the same for all inhabitants of the planet Earth, no matter what sort of living being we happen to be called. I wrote: "You, me, crabgrass, cockroaches, George Washington...we all share the same four bases for our DNA...the only difference between any of us is the nature of the arrangement."

This fact is sadly not very widely known or promoted. I wonder why?

Testosterone and estrogen are hormones associated respectively with males and females. Actually all males have estrogen in their systems and all females have testosterone in their system, it is the ratio of the hormones that is associated with female and male characteristics. Most folks are vaguely aware of the connection of female - estrogen and male - testosterone though.

Those two hormones are present in some degree in the bodies of all mammals (and some reptiles, birds and insects) that call the planet Earth home. Those two hormones exert some influence on the functioning of all mammals (including human animals) living on this planet.

According to Wikipedia: "Mammals share the same reproductive system, including the regulatory hypothalamic system that releases gonadotropin releasing hormone in pulses, the pituitary that secretes follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, and the ovary itself releases sex hormones including estrogens and progesterone."

Way back in elementary school you were all told (at least I hope you were) that humans belong to the group of animals called mammals. If you weren't told this, then you were lied to either by omission, commission or neglect.

I'll bet you weren't told this: "Living mammal species can be identified by the presence of sweat glands, including those that are specialized to produce milk." Hmmm, one way to identify a mammal is whether they have sweat glands (and milk is produced by a specialized sweat gland). Puts a new perspective on "dairy" doesn't it.

I am an animal, if you're reading are an animal. We are all animals. Let us all live like good citizen animals of our planet and be ethical vegans...that minimizes the damage we do to our fellow animals and to our planet.