Thursday, May 31, 2012

The heart asks...

The heart asks pleasure first
And then, excuse from pain-
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering;

And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The privilege to die.

Emily Dickinson wrote this poem and it has always haunted me. Anymore I can't read the poem without thinking of the millions of chickens crammed into battery cages...who...when young had hearts that asked this world for pleasure. Instead they spent short miserable lives with no anodynes to alleviate their suffering...all because we humans wanted money or a taste.

Each cow, each pig, each chicken, each sheep, each goat, each dog, each cat, each rabbit, each being that is a child of this earth...each one was born with a heart that first asked for pleasure...and billions...billions of them quickly wished for anodynes that weren't granted. I have no doubt so very very many were relieved to have the escape of death visit them.

We have no right to deny young hearts the pleasure of the world...we have no right to deny any heart such pleasure.

We have no right and yet we deny them and hurt them for selfish reasons and we provide them with no anodynes and then we kill them. We diminish and degrade ourselves. Never wonder if there are monsters...there are...shamefully and sadly...there are. And they are not rare...they are not few in number...those who choose to not behave monstrously are the few. Sadly and shamefully.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Who has time for justice?

"In Memory Of Rosa Robota, Estusia Wajcblum, Ala Gertner, Regina Safirztain and Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, who all died from different manifestations of the same disease."

Thus is written the dedication of a novel titled "The Street Sweeper" by Elliot Perlman. One of the main characters in the novel is a psychologist who travels to Germany in 1946 to interview survivors of the Holocaust. This psychologist, after hearing a woman tell her story of having to abandon her infant daughter in a futile attempt to save the child's life, asks himself: "Who will sit in judgement over all this?"

Close to the end of the novel, a female physician faces a situation wherein she is called upon to intervene on behalf of a fired hospital cleaning worker.
"...what a tremendous injustice it was for him to be accused of theft and fired because of it. She worked at the hospital but not in Human Resources. She had her own life. She had her own problems. Who had time for this kind of thing?

She asked herself this and then wondered what she meant by "this kind of thing."  She concluded a few seconds later that what she had really meant was "justice" of some kind. So what she had, in fact, asked herself was "who had time for justice?" and  the fact that she had articulated this question, even if only privately to herself, jolted her. She caught a vague, elongated momentary glimpse of herself walking past a reflecting surface and, not wanting to be the sort of person who asked her self that question, ..." p.596-597
 I'm not going to 'review' the novel...there are a number of adequate ones available on the web. Instead I want to write about the bitter and tragic fact that in a very well written novel such as this...in a novel that addresses beautifully the disease that kills (racism) noted in the dedication quoted above...this novel is blind...utterly...to speciesism (which also kills).

One of the more sympathetic characters in the novel is an African American man who is kind and gentle and sensitive, helpful to a fatherless boy, and who also 'works' as a "splitter" in a slaughterhouse...he spends his working life murdering or dismembering pigs.

And yet...and yet...this is a sensitive and powerful and well-written novel about the horrors and damage and suffering and deaths that accompany the ugliness of racism...but the novelist and the characters are oblivious to their perpetuation of the same behaviors and attitudes that so scarred and injured and diminished their lives. How can this be?

I know the novelist did not set out to write a novel about racism and injustice and human blindness and human casualness toward perpetrating or supporting horror that exemplified the very thing he was attempting to explore and highlight in the book...but he did. His work is tainted and diminished so terribly much by his own blindness...by his (and thereby his characters) own inability to perceive that speciesism is simply another manifestation of that terrible 'disease'.

I found reading the novel to be so disorienting...for instance in one part a mother and daughter are discussing the Upton Sinclair novel "The Jungle" and on the following page are talking about the ugliness and wrongness of using the "Nword" when referring to African Americans. With never a hint that the pigs and cows and sheep murdered by the slaughterhouses referenced in Sinclair's novel are murdered for exactly the same reasons that slavery once was legal...for exactly the same reasons that the Germans built the gas-chambers, for exactly the same reason that using the "Nword" is ugly and wrong.

They were (and are) enslaved and murdered because they are considered to be "inferior", unworthy of serious consideration...or dog and cats and rabbits are murdered because no one wants to care for them...or for "sport". It is the same...the same old story of devaluing those who are "different", of denying the worth of those not the same...your life is forfeit to the group in power if you don't fit their criteria of worthiness.

And Elliot Perlman has written an excellent treatment of racism directed toward African Americans and Jews. And Elliot Perlman casually and apparently with absolute obliviousness supports and reifies and normalizes at places in his book the same ugliness, the same 'disease', when directed toward those who happen to not look like a human animal. Without a thought or a word or a tear for their anguish, for their terror, for their lives. How sad, how very sad.

"Who will sit in judgement over all this?"

Please don't be someone who doesn't have time for justice...ethical veganism is the only way of living that supports justice for those who don't happen be human animals...and...while you're at it...live a just life toward your fellow human animals too.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A day for Honoring all Human UnMothers.....

On my behalf and on behalf of all sentient beings I want to thank and honor all of you human animal females who have avoided becoming mothers. Thank you Thank you and Thank you! You have chosen to not participate in or contribute to the ongoing and accelerating destruction of most of the current habitat and environment of the planet Earth.

The human overpopulation of the planet is destroying other species and the environmental conditions necessary to support Earth's species at an astonishing rate. The single most significant thing any human animal can do to reduce their negative impact on the ecosystem is to not reproduce. While not disrespecting those who have children...the real heroes who deserve acknowledgement are those brave women who have had the courage to remain childless.
When scientists talk about overpopulation, they are usually referring to a population exceeding its biological carrying capacity which is defined as "the maximum number of animals that a specific habitat or area can support without causing deterioration or degradation of that habitat.” 
 Look at the bottom left corner of the graph, it is estimated that the human population of the planet exceeded 1 billion in 1804. In general, thought suggests that a human population of around 500 million (in other words, a population of humans half of the 1804 population) is a "sustainable" number of people. If you want to poke around, there is an abundance of information available...

What is important to remember is that every additional human animal on the planet means two things for our fellow Earthlings:

A. Less space and food (natural habitat) for other animals.
B. More animals killed for food by humans.

The direction of the number of human animals needs (for the sake of the planet, for our fellow Earthlings and for ourselves) to be decreasing, not increasing. We could make the number decrease by killing (and we are amazingly good at that) or by death from disease or starvation or whatever....or we could make the number decrease by not adding to it and letting death due to age begin to bring the number down. Obviously the least violent and painful way to make our numbers drop is to quit having so many children.

So...thanks is due to those courageous and heroic human females (inadvertently or not) who have had the generosity and vision to help all living beings by being UnMothers.  Your planet thanks you, your fellow Earthlings thank you...especially all mothers who aren't human animals, and I thank you. You are appreciated and valued and treasured.

Your not having children means you voted to have more tigers living in the wild instead of another McDonalds hamburger joint.

You voted to preserve, not to destroy. You voted for the future, not for the now. This is caring, this is concern, this is love...this is true "mothering". Be impressed with yourselves, you should be...we all should be. Thank you!!!   (Repost from May 7, 2011)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Joie de vivre!

The french phrase, which means pleasure or joy in living or life is one that comes to mind every time I think about or see Howard. The photo below shows Howard doing one of the things he seems to enjoy totally...running. He moves pell-mell wherever he goes....
and he seems to always be going somewhere. Except when he's not...then he might be looking to see where he wants to go next.
I've been wanting to write about Howard for a long time but words about him come with difficulty. He came to us after having been dumped in a parking lot (in a cardboard box). He was picked up by the local municipal animal shelter and his execution time was approaching...that's the penalty in Oklahoma if you're a bunny without a home. Death. He was thrown away. The best estimate of his age is that he is between 2 and 4 years old...likely he is on the young side of that range...he seems to have grown a little since he came to us and his energy level certainly is that of a kid.

Howard is what is known as a "New Zealand White". Now, first of all these guys don't have a damn thing to do with New Zealand...the "breed" was developed in Mexico...supposedly in 1916. The "big whites" (that's what I like to call them) were "bred" for their "fur" and for "meat" and for "use" by laboratories. I'm enclosing words that are repulsive and euphemistic in quotation marks because they obscure the horrific reality that these bunnies were manipulated by humans for profit...absolutely and totally ignoring the rights and needs of these beings. But...that's a rant for a different time.

Howard came to Heartland because the Director made the space for him (even though we didn't have it...Heartland is chronically over capacity) to save his life. When he first was given a chance to run around it didn't look good for him. He was very shaky and had a difficult time staying upright...his balance was very poor and he evinced ongoing tremors. It was apparent he had some sort of neurological or motoric problems and we were very concerned about him. But...he was a poster child for the word exuberant. He would run and fall and immediately spring back up and keep on going. If he was still (which was not very often) and tried to scratch or wash his face...he would often fall over...but it sure didn't seem to bother him. There was no way to watch Howard without breaking into a big smile.
The pinkish skin and reddish tint of his eyes are typical in his "breed" because there is a strong element of albinism in these sort of bunny folk...albinism makes it easier to test cosmetics and chemicals in their eyes and on their skin...the damage done can be more easily seen and the tissue is more sensitive. What a bunch of creeps we human animals are...disgusting. Howard though, is anything but disgusting...he is a special special being.

Over time, and he's been with us for around a year now, his shakiness and wobbling has diminished considerably. He still tremors and falls sometimes but not much and not very often anymore. He's too busy...and busy is the perfect word for this fellow when he has a crack at running around the rescue property. He is either going full speed or he is lounging somewhere resting as hard as he runs. Or...he's looking for women...Howard is a lover and a runner and nobody knows which he prefers...both are primary considerations for him. He is adept at climbing out of enclosures, breaking into enclosures and generally going where he isn't supposed to go. All these things he does with gusto and joy and (I secretly think) a big bunny smile...

 Now, due to the hugeness of his personality, he has been tagged with some interesting names by the bunny slaves at Heartland. Mr. Wobbles is one name that is applied to him sometimes but the name that causes the most laughter and pleasure is that of Mr. Naughtytrousers...because it so aptly describes him and because that name is so unusual sounding to us in America. The name was borrowed from a bunny who resides at Big Ears Animal Sanctuary in northern Tasmania. The folks who operate the sanctuary recently took on 300 rabbits rescued from a "meat farm" and I can only marvel at their energy and excellence in attempting such a huge undertaking. A big thanks to them and a big Hooray for them!

Howard is unusual in some other ways...in addition to his large helping of personality and lebensfreude...he is a rag doll bunny.  He hardly ever flinches or tenses up if he is picked up by a human...he usually just relaxes. Totally. Which is not often seen in bunny folk. He enjoys being petted and groomed and will even allow...with absolutely no indication of discomfort...grooming of and even pulling gently on his tail. Most rabbits get rather excited or irritated if any sort of touching on their tail goes on...not Mr. Naughtytrousers...he calmly and majestically endures and enjoys any and all sorts of petting or grooming. He's a treasure and a wonder. And some human discarded him like an empty tin can...

But Howard doesn't hold a grudge...he just runs and runs or sometimes he digs.
And when it all becomes too much and too tiring and there's a convenient human around...Howard just lays back and naps. When he's in that state he's much like those little dolls that were played with by little girls many years ago...you know those that had the eyelids that closed when you put them on their back...that's Howard. Pick him up and lay him on his back in your arms and his eyelids slowly close...and poof...he's gone off to napland.

It is getting to spend time around phenoms like Howard that helps keep me going. Howard possesses a restorative spirit and is as generous with it as it is possible to be. Thank you Howard...thank you, thank you.

Support your local animal rescues, support anyplace that might provide a safe and forever home to wonderful beings like Howard. We need all the Howard spirit in the world that we can get.

Ethical veganism is a way of living that embodies and expresses respect and caring for all living beings (including ourselves) and for Mother Earth.  Sadly, any other way of living implements destruction and death and suffering and horror...inevitably and inexorably. So...knock it off if you haven't already.