Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Know any cows?

Most of us lead lives that do not include hanging out with large animals. Cows are very interesting and excellent beings and I recently ran across a video that does a pretty good job of showing some of the playfulness and friendliness that many cows possess. It is true that some cows are grumps just as some humans are grumps but Snow Flower (the star of the video) isn't.


Stay with the video, at about 3:30 in you will get to see some playing and frolicking and that goes on for some time, at around 4:40 she is having a great time. The video is a chance to get to see a bit of one cow enjoying her life. It is easy to see that she is an individual and that she has her own view of the world, her own preferences, her own likes and dislikes. When we lump living beings into categories we then tend to lose sight of the fact that each are individuals.

A facebook 'friend' (Wong Oi Lee) posted this video and at first I passed over it but went back and was captivated. I think it is a good chance to get to know a little about a cow for those that haven't had the opportunity to do so in the flesh. My thanks to her for putting it out there for the rest of us to see and experience.

From what I could find out on the internet, Snow Flower was eventually moved to a herd of 'pet' cows and maybe there she will get to live out her life in comfort and safety.

That isn't what happens to most cow beings. It is hard to reconcile the joy and happiness that Snow Flower obviously experiences with the casualness and ease that most humans are willing to kill such beings...or to pay someone else to kill cows like Snow Flower for them.

I was watching a documentary about the killing of the millions of humans during WWII and one of the narrators said what was so hard to comprehend was that the killing often wasn't done by sadists or madmen...rather it was done by ordinary human beings. Somehow, not participating in the horror was unusual or extraordinary rather than participating.

That's terribly frightening...just as is the casual way in which we kill billions of living beings every year...we kill them just because we want to. And very few of us ever give it a thought...so many lives extinguished, so many joys unfelt....and almost none of us seem to care.

It is hard to find hope but there are humans that care, that object, that protest....and that's important.

If you are one that cares, that objects, that protests, that doesn't participate in the ongoing slow-motion murderous rampage most humans are engaged in....then...thank you, thank you very much....you are valued and appreciated and very much needed by all (especially me).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Do you recognize this fellow?

Dr. Helmut Kaplan
He is an Austrian psychologist who is a major advocate for all animals. He has written a number of books using the German language and some of his writing has been translated into Japanese and French but...so far as I can tell...none have been translated into English. I hope this is rectified at some point because his works would be a valuable resource for readers of English.

For instance, on his website he writes about the The Theory of Everything in Ethics. One quote: "If all people adopted this rule, 99 per cent of all problems that can be solved through moral actions would be done away with in an instant!"

That's pretty ambitious...and the rule he references is, ta dah: The Golden Rule or as it is sometimes known...The Ethic of Reciprocity (sorry, the christians didn't originate this notion it has been around a lot longer than monotheism). Dr. Kaplan elaborates in his essay about the rule and I hope you will read it for yourself. One quote from his writing that I liked:
"The real problem in applying the Golden Rule to animals, or to be more precise, in putting ourselves in the place of the animals, is that it is so EASY – and that the result is so terrible in many cases: Anyone who is informed, even superficially, about what happens on animal transports, in factory farms, in abattoirs etc., and then imagines his dog or cat in such a situation (as a sort of bridge to putting himself in the place of other animals), is in danger of going mad with empathy and horror."
The real problem in applying the rule is that it is so easy...? I'm uncertain as to what he means here...unless it is that (as he writes) we often avoid using this rule because it is so compelling and would cause much change in our behavior...at least I think that is what he is saying.
"It is precisely this illustration of what the Golden Rule implies, factually and emotionally, this intensification of moral situations that cuts right to the heart of moral value and moral responsibility, that reveals what is probably the most common reason for the Rule’s rejection: All of us who accept the Golden Rule, this Theory of Everything in Ethics, are—in a moral sense—putting ourselves on the spot." 
I'm presuming "putting ourselves on the spot" means being compelled to behave in accordance with the rule?

I just wanted to introduce Dr. Kaplan and his work to those that are unfamiliar with him. I'm always gratified to find folks that are in the psychology field that are ethical vegans and Dr. Kaplan has been on the good path for some time and is a tireless and terrific advocate for all beings.

He seems to be not very well known to 'english-only' folks and that needs to be remedied.

I fully agree with his realization that most moral problems would disappear if some putting ourselves into the place of others would occur and then acting on what we thereby realize. It really isn't complicated or difficult.

One other quote:
"Our grandchildren will ask us one day, 'Where were you during the holocaust of the animals? What did you do against these horrific crimes?' This time around we won't be able to say, 'We didn't know it was going on.' "
Innocence or genuine ignorance among human animals is, for now anyway, sparse indeed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Enough said?

Thanks to all vegans.
Enjoy the holiday everyone

My apologies to all the animals (especially turkeys because of the time of the year) that we harm, will harm and have harmed. Someday....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The "Master" species...

For those familiar with WWII, you may know that that exhibition of human intellectual and moral disconnect from reality resulted in the death of an estimated 60 million human animal lives.

The two nation groups principally responsible for the onset of the violence and destruction were Japan and Germany. A similarity between the cultural world-view of those two nations existed that is rarely discussed or mentioned. That is of the "Master Race" delusion shared by both many Germans and many Japanese. The German Nazis considered their sort of folks to be superior to all others and the Japanese militarists considered their brand of human animals to be the best of the bunch.

The Japanese version:
We're superior to everyone else! (Hideki Tojo)
The German version:
We're superior to everyone else! (Adolph Hitler)

Obviously had those two groups been victorious, they might have had some things to argue about regarding their status of superiority. But, they weren't victorious and each moment creates more distance in time from their peculiar notions of a "Master race".

Or does it?

Well, actually no. This sort of psychopathic thinking continues today with groups associated with "white supremacy" notions. Thankfully these are 'fringe' groups and apparently attract a relatively small number of followers.

A much larger number of followers ascribe to another psychopathic notion, that of species supremacy. The "Master Species", if you will.

Indeed, if you look at the various "isms" associating with proclaiming and maintaining the 'superiority' of one group over another you find this theme over and over..."since I'm better to and superior to you, I should be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want and to treat beings that don't belong to my group any way I want. I can exploit them, torture them or kill them and be perfectly right and justified in doing so. My wants/needs should always come first in any situation." Elements similar to this are present in racism, sexism, ageism and on and on and on. "Me first and you...since you aren't like me...well...you get what I choose."

Speciesism is just a variant of this sad state of self-serving destructive silliness, this elevation of the human animal above all other animals is sometimes referred to as human exceptionalism. Somehow, because of how we are, we human animals have decided we are superior to all other animals and have the right to do to those 'lesser' beings whatever we want.

Whenever we see individual human animals thinking and behaving this way...we quickly recognize the danger and the pathology. Whenever we see groups of human animals thinking and behaving this way...we more slowly but eventually recognize the pathology and the danger. Apparently when the bulk of human animals think and behave this way...we have an enormously difficult time recognizing the pathology and danger. It's almost as if we are so immersed in it that we are unable to see it for what it is. Stupid, erroneous, foolish and destructive is what thinking this way is...but the victims of this monstrous insanity have no human voice... and the death and horror just rolls along...with little or no comment or recognition. Some object, some condemn but the numerical difference between the perpetrators or aiders and abettors and those who sound the alarm is 99 to 1.

It is curious how fairly easily we are able to identify thinking or behaving in an individual that is bizarre and dangerous...but disseminate the same strangeness to bunches of individuals...then somehow our perception and identification of dangerousness breaks down. Especially if we happen to belong to such a group.

If bizarre notions have been presented to us since birth their identification becomes more problematical. Other factors that may serve to disguise bizarreness and decrease our critical ability include the notions offering some reward for us or if the bizarre notions flatter us or if the bizarre notions elevate our status or if the bizarre notions give us reasons for our problems.

There are extensive writings on the causes of the "Final Solution" that Germany called their attempts to try to eradicate Jewish people and other people deemed "undesirable".  There aren't nearly as many sources that examine the behavior of the Japanese prior to and during WWII. This isn't because they weren't destructive, but partially because here in the west we tend to focus on countries and groups participating in western 'civilization' and to be much more ignorant about groups using other 'civilization' traditions and worldviews. Another reason is that the Japanese did not engage in the systematic and bureaucratized and horrific imprisonment and slaughter of millions. Their violence and destruction was less systematized and pervasive when compared to the Germans...but who the hell knows what they would have done in the future had they not been defeated and what they did do was horrific enough.

Our behavior toward the other animals has and is often compared to the behavior of the Nazis toward the 'undesirables'. Numerous books are available that explore these similarities and here is a superlative photographic essay that expounds on this comparison.

Many of us are familiar with the quote from the Nobel prizewinner Isaac Bashevis Singer, who wrote: "In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka."

Others object to such comparisons. For instance Roberta Kalechofsky wrote: "....I objected to this use of the Holocaust... The agony of animals arises from different causes from those of the Holocaust. Human beings do not hate animals. They do not eat them because they hate them. They do not experiment on them because they hate them, they do not hunt them because they hate them. These were the motives for the Holocaust. Human beings have no ideological or theological conflict with animals."

What she writes may be true, but whether someone hates or someone is indifferent...the fact is if a being that is hated or a being that elicits indifference is a being that the hater or the indifferenter feels superior to, feels more powerful than, feels unconstrained by rules in terms of dealing with them...then the being hated and/or the being toward whom indifference is felt...is at tremendous risk of being horribly treated. Here, at this point, is where the Nazi mindset and the mindset of the average human animal converge...this notion of superiority...this "Master Race" mentality...this "Master Species" mentality.

These two photos of beings transported against their will to their places of death are too similar to be dismissed.
An innocent being, condemned by those who say they are "superior".

Innocent beings, condemned by those who say they are "superior".


I think Henry Beston expressed a truth about our fellow animals that rings and resonates with accuracy and clarity when he wrote "...They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."

We are citizens of Earth, as are all the other living beings. We are not superior, we are not inferior, they are not superior, they are not inferior...they are just trying to get by and they owe us nothing...we, however, owe them the right to be left alone to be themselves.

Living as an ethical vegan is a requirement in order to follow the path of leaving them alone...and of avoiding the superiority/inferiority delusion.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The pleasures of the Earth.

They are there to be shared by each and every single one of the children of the Earth.

Molly, Judy and Midnite enjoy the sunshine...
Sunbathing is often a pleasurable experience, especially when the air is crisp or chilly. The three folks above were spotted when I arrived at Heartland Rabbit Rescue one cool morning. The wind was coming out of the north but they had found a perfect spot protected from the wind to catch a few rays. We human animals often forget that we don't own the planet, all of the children of the Earth have the same rights to the pleasures of living here as we do. But we forget this quite a lot.

Nessie Rae and Bobby Ray
Bob seeks the sun regularly (except during this last summer) and anywhere there is a comfortable place to rest with some sunbeams you might find him...here you can see him and his sorta friend Nessie lounging together with Bob having the added bonus of getting some warmth from the sun.

Sun bathing, enjoying the rain, the snow, the smell of fresh air...all these things we human animals tend to minimize yet they constitute serious sources of pleasure and enjoyment...and most of the animals that aren't human ones know that very well. Sometimes even we human animals remember.

Gracie Rae semi-sunning herself.
Gracie is less prone to seek the sun, my speculation is that her dark fur makes heat absorption from the sun so efficient that it quickly becomes uncomfortable for her...hence mostly she only 'semi' suns herself.

Sun-bathing, fresh air, etc...all pleasures that are birthrights belonging to each of the children of the Earth. Yet somehow, for various "reasons"...we human animals have decided that we have a right to control those 'available for all' pleasures. Either by polluting and destroying the Earth and her air and waters or exploiting her children by imprisoning and torturing and killing them.

When I look at it straight on I start to sputter...what in hell are we doing? Who do we think we are? What kind of insane trajectory are we on? What's the matter with us? We must be crazy!

In truth, it would be maybe hopeful if we were crazy or deluded or uncomprehending...then maybe we could change before it is too late for everyone. But if this is just us, if most of us are just this way and will remain this way...then there is no hope, there is no bright and enduring future available, there is only increasing degradation and destruction and misery and death.

The truth is, if you aren't living as an ethical vegan, you are paying other human animals to imprison your fellow animals, to murder their babies and to murder them...to keep them from the 'available to all' pleasures of the Earth. Or maybe you're committing those horrors yourself, directly...I don't know.

I do know, however, that whatever bloated, swollen, distorted and malevolent sense of self-importance has led us to believe we have a right to control the Earth and all her children...I do know that this sickness (or evilness) must stop. It must end, soon, and completely.

Your chance to show that your character isn't one allied with misery and death as well as affirming your recovery from some of the common destructive delusions associated with being a human animal is to go vegan.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

After abolition, what will it be like?

Once we recognize the truth that a life belongs to the being that posses that life and start trying to behave that way...then what?

Pretend human animals have grown-up or awakened or learned, finally, that you treat those with less power with care and consideration. That you don't exploit them or harm them simply because you can...and...if you do there are moral, cultural and legal sanctions.

Once we get there, what will it be like?

I presume other animals will have some sort of cultural and legal status similar to children. No more slaughterhouses, no more 'dairy', no more organized exploitation of any species (without breaking the law). The amount of misery and death dealt out by human animals will be reduced tremendously...but it won't be gone.

The current furor and turmoil over the child sex-abuse scandal and Penn State's venerable coach Joe Paterno made me think again about what will it be like in the post-abolition world.

Sadly enough, animals will still be harmed, animals will still be exploited, animals will still be tortured and killed...the litany of misery will continue just as it continues today for those vulnerable and innocent ones we call our children.

One of the many differences will be that the legal system will have avenues with which to punish those who harm the helpless.

But make no mistake, the helpless will continue to be harmed. Every human animal that occupies a status that, in the not so distant past, was considered to be eligible to be owned as 'property' continues to be more vulnerable than those that have not recently occupied such statuses. Children, women, African Americans and on and on....in fact....we're oriented toward equal opportunity exploitation...all you have to do is belong to some group or status that is less powerful than some other group and status and....we'll increase your risk of being harmed and/or exploited at no extra charge.

All you have to be is "different" and be less powerful.

And...even those who hold themselves out to be paragons of virtue and character, just like the Catholic Church and Coach Paterno did, even these institutions and humans will pose danger and risk, directly or indirectly,  for the vulnerable.

Unless...unless what? Can we do better than we do now regarding those with little or no power? Is how we behave now toward our children (I'm referencing them because I am presuming we care for them the most) the best we can expect from ourselves? Maybe we have more work to do on ourselves than we realize....because how we treat our children has lots of room for improvement. Lots.

But, providing our fellow animals with protections and considerations similar to those we ostensibly extend to our children is a big first step. You can start your own journey in the right direction by living as an ethical vegan (if you haven't already).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hearing someone scream in pain or terror...

is shocking and scary. Hearing a bunny scream is especially frightening because they are so small and vulnerable. Recently I was serving up lunch to the south warren bunch of buns at Heartland Rabbit Rescue when one of the bunny folks screamed/shrieked three times in succession. The screams were sort of brief but loud and full of urgency and alarm and pain or terror. I ran over to the area the sound seemed to have arisen from but aside from lots of rabbits being on full alert (and some were thumping in alarm) I could see nothing wrong with anyone.

I then walked the whole warren inspecting each resident to see if I could find the distressed bunny, everyone looked ok, nothing seemed amiss...I did a full walk through two times and never could discover who screamed or what happened. Slowly all the rabbits settled back down and I finally went back to my previous task. Weird.

Later, when I told the Director about it she reminded me about one of her first experiences with bunny screams. When she first started taking in homeless bunnies, her first pair of what we call 'great whites' (actually they are formally called New Zealand White Rabbits...but they are Mexican in origin...go figure) were rabbits that had been used (tortured) in a laboratory. Their backs and sides were covered with one or two inch long scars that covered over where slits had been made in their backs and various substances inserted underneath their skin...to see what would happen. That sounds like something sadistic children might do to some helpless being...but nope...these were all grown-up humans doing this...just to make a buck.

Most, if not all, animal testing is obscene and unnecessary...it is done because it is cheap and few object and corporations think it might save their butts in a lawsuit. Here is a link to see what corporations test or don't test on other animals. Harming an innocent being just because you think it might do you some good is indefensible and repugnant.

The Director said that sometimes these bunnies would begin whimpering and then screaming in their sleep, they would be having traumatic dreams reliving what had happened to them in the laboratory. Experiencing 'night terrors' and nightmares reliving their fear and pain just like us human animals might do that have been subjected to torture and/or terrorizing incidents. They would awaken themselves with their screaming and then it would stop.

She speculated that the screaming might have come from a nightmare that maybe Pippin or Brett had experienced. She mentioned those two because both are fairly recent arrivals at the rescue and both were in situations wherein they had been terrorized. Both Pippin and Brett had been kept in outdoor cages where attempted attacks by dogs sometimes occurred (and whatever other nightime predators that might have been around). While their cage might have kept them safe from the attack it did nothing to keep them safe from terror.

We still don't know who screamed or why they screamed but it is important to realize that terror and pain and memories and nightmares and trauma are not experiences exclusive to human animals...all of us animals live on the same planet and experience life much the same and have an array of reactions that are very similar (some might be different, but the great majority are the same)...it isn't much of a stretch to say that we may look quite different on the outside but on the inside, where our feelings and our essential being resides, we are much the same.

The best way you can help ensure you don't add to the misery of our sister and brother animals is to go vegan, please....it does the animals good, the planet good and it does good for your standing as a worthy relative of all animals.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Veganacious posted these statements...

on November 1, 2010. They are excellent and well worth disseminating widely. I agree with everything written here...and that's so refreshing. Let's work toward making everyday World Vegan Day.

(the complete post is reproduced below)

World Vegan Day

We advocate peace, ahimsa, non-violence.

We believe that veganism is a philosophy, not a diet.

We believe in the interconnectedness of all living beings.

We believe in the right of sentient beings to be treated with respect, not be property, and be allowed to live their lives.

We believe that the domestication of animals has created misery and death for most domesticates. We believe we have a responsibility to domesticates as far as we are able to help them, since we created them.

We believe that the current use and abuse of animals is not only morally wrong but unsustainable; it must stop.

We believe that respect for all living beings will help heal the earth.

We believe in doing the least harm towards others.

We believe that treating all sentient beings with respect is the morally right thing to do.

We believe that veganism will help heal the individual person; feeding upon death and suffering is in no way healthy.

We believe that human animals must control their own population.

We believe that we must allow natural areas for animal habitat, where nonhuman animals may live unmolested by human intervention.

We believe in a vegan world, in its possibilities, in its potentials.

Please, join us. Please, go vegan!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wild...

Earlier I wrote a bit about the word 'domesticated' and how often summary words serve to obscure and hide sometimes complex and weighty phenomena. Wild is also such a word especially when applied to our animal relatives.

According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary site, wild means:

"1a : living in a state of nature and not ordinarily tame or domesticated <wild ducks>
b (1) : growing or produced without human aid or care <wild honey> (2) : related to or resembling a corresponding cultivated or domesticated organism
c : of or relating to wild organisms <the wild state>
2a : not inhabited or cultivated <wild land>
b : not amenable to human habitation or cultivation; also : desolate
3a (1) : not subject to restraint or regulation : uncontrolled; also : unruly (2) : emotionally overcome <wild with grief>; also : passionately eager or enthusiastic <was wild to own a toy train — J. C. Furnas>
b : marked by turbulent agitation : stormy <a wild night>
c : going beyond normal or conventional bounds : fantastic <wild ideas>; also : sensational
d : indicative of strong passion, desire, or emotion <a wild gleam of delight in his eyes — Irish Digest>
4: uncivilized, barbaric...."

Hmmm, the first entry about growing or existing without human care or aid is actually what the phrase "wild animal" should mean. Actually, if we look at the term wild and consider that "domesticated" essentially means dependent on humans, then "wild" actually means independent...the wild ones don't need humans. Probably a much more appropriate and meaningful way to talk about animals viz-a-viz humans would be to term them as being either dependent or independent.

But that isn't what we do. First of all, notice, we often (almost invariably) frame our consideration and thinking about other animals by primarily referencing them re humans...that is either wild or domestic. We can't use either of those terms without dragging ourselves into the mix because saying wild actually means independent of humans and saying domestic actually means dependent on humans.

But, the subtle baggage that is tacked onto wild are the various other meanings that are vaguely or specifically negative. Notice wild also means uncontrolled, agitated, barbaric, desolate. When we think about or reference another animal with the adjective "wild"...these additional shades of meaning often get covertly or overtly dragged into the mix.

So...I am going to, henceforth, try to think about other animals in different terms. Then it is easily noted that an animal is...at least insofar as dealing with humans...either independent or dependent. Because the fact is that those animals that don't depend on us to make their way on this planet and to live their own lives in their own way...why should we burden that independence with any shadings of negativity?

They, like us, have the skills and capabilities to live on this planet as autonomous beings...they don't need us for anything. We are unnecessary to their existence (in fact our principal role in their lives is as a threat to their existence). Maybe our unnecessariness is what bothers us about them and makes us reference them with a word (wild) that has additional negative connotations.

Independent or dependent...you can help save the lives of animals if you go vegan.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Subverting my usual stance...

of rarely noting some "day" or other I offer this salute and recognition to one particular "day" I wholeheartedly agree with. That is the "World Vegan Day"...someday in the not too distant future I hope that ethical veganism is no more unusual that daybreak or nightfall. Since that isn't the case currently...Happy World Vegan Day!!

Remember...ethical veganism is for this small child pictured below and all the other children and all the moms and dads and sisters and brothers of all the sentient beings on our planet (including you)...ethical veganism is the recognition and affirmation and way of living that says their lives are theirs and our lives are lived in ways that respect and honor and care for them.

All children of all sentient beings deserve respect and caring. 

If you aren't living as an ethical vegan, why not? I can pretty safely assure you that if some other group of beings possessed power over us...you would desperately want them to live as ethical vegans...why not give what you would want if circumstances were different?

Finally, I saw this last graphic on the web and really liked it. We all were handed a bunch of ways of thinking and perceiving and behaving that we had no choice but to accept...but it is our job to do just exactly what Mr. Whitman is admonishing us to do. Ethical veganism is the only way of living that I know of that doesn't insult the soul.


Enjoy your day (and if you haven't already done so...quit insulting your soul and go vegan)!