Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
22 October 2000

By Carolyn Zaikowski, [email protected]

"To one whose mind is free, there is something even more intolerable in the suffering of animals than in the suffering of humans. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the person who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any person were to refer to it, they would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime. That alone is the justification of all that humans may suffer. It cries vengeance upon all the human race. If God exists and tolerates it, it cries vengeance upon God."
-Romain Rolland, Nobel Laureate

Humans are animals. Like others, we have evolved with qualities that are specific to our species. The human animal, by its own accord, has been granted the characteristic of reason. By definition, this word is interchangeable with others such as: sound judgment, common sense, intellect, logic, understanding, insight, perception, and rationalization.

Human beings are moral and powerful, however, we practice these morals and use these powers in utterly wrong places. We have created this material world, so why should it not be our duty to salvage it as well, as the supposed intelligent beings that we are? We have elevated our species in the system of status, so high that we fail to remember that we are animals as well. As the most powerful animals, we must take on the highest responsibility to the earth and beings around us.

The main reason why I chose to give up consuming and purchasing animal products is, of course, because I believe in peace. The practice of inflicting pain and torture among animals numbs human beings to the effects and realities of violence. Non-violence begins in the willingness to understand and be compassionate toward "lower" creatures and their ability to comprehend pain just as the human animal can. In accepting atrocity on such a large scale, an innate acceptance of violence is created and equality and peace are not possible on any level thereafter.

In an adverse world, differentiation between beings will only work against us. It must be understood that all creatures feel pain on their own scale. Are we a part of the food chain? As humans we have proudly decided that our separation from "animals" lies in our ability to reason and make civilized decisions. Here lies yet another incentive to give up the barbaric ways of our stature. If we are to label ourselves "reasonable" and "civilized" we must grasp an acute awareness of respect, compassion, self-discipline and equality. Because we eat animals not for survival's sake, nor for health reasons, but out of pure greed and ignorance, we are indeed more self-centered, arrogant, and barbaric than any fellow creature. We must practice being dutiful to less powerful beings as it is in our greater power to do so. We have the ability to live healthily on non-animal products. We have the ability to salvage creatures. We allow ourselves to take in dogs and cats as pets and then put forth the audacity of eating meat in front of them.

Becoming vegan has cleared my mind of what I did not know existed in me. I have begun to see meat for what it truly is, something that is impossible to do if one does not open their conscience to reality. By boycotting factory farms I have refused to pay for the senseless murder that takes place there. American farms of this day and age are not wholesome. They are alarmingly similar to Hitler's concentration camps, but the victims there are not human. I know that by myself I will never make a large scale difference. But I will not support something that I know, in every portion of my heart, is wrong. I will not degrade myself by sinking into ignorance. My wish for the progress of this cause is merely for others to realize the truths that have been so conveniently blanketed for the sake of spoiling ourselves with the taste of meat. If we allow ourselves to briefly contemplate the way we would feel if we lived our lives only to be the tools of torture, reproduction, and murder, then we could perhaps forget our cravings and give back what we have taken. We are hidden from the genocidal acts of the farm animal world. It is the reason we are able to consume beautiful creatures. But if you have ever heard the blood wrenching cries of a non-human animal in distress, then you would surely notice the striking similarity between those cries and the cries of a helpless human baby.

More savage and cruel than any other species, the human animal has embarked upon the ultimate genocide. How far will we trek beyond decency? When will we fall upon consciousness? Upon selflessness? If we are to ever live peacefully with ourselves and with the living creatures and earth around us, we must erase the tale we have created to soothe our minds. We must come to grips with our own shortcomings before we are able to diminish the violence and pain that we support so willingly, so unknowingly. We must fully saturate ourselves with the fact that every being is indeed sentient, just as we are.

"The search for (non-violence) has to be both external and internal. We seek to ignore this crucial search because the sacrifices it demands are evolutionary. It means moving away from greed, selfishness, possessiveness and dominance to love, compassion, understanding, and respect."
-Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi,
in his essay Challenges and Choices.

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