Lisa Selvaggio, ThirdEye.ParagonEarth
In an effort to humanize animals to bring to the forefront their plight in varying situations, captive and free, beginning with animals on a fur farm, leading into those in vivisection labs, to those in factory farms, on to those in the wild, and finally to our beloved domestic companions. I relate to them, and I sympathize; do you?
He's slammed to the ground and stepped on, and from that moment, I feel a weight on my chest. He's hung by his feet and cut, his skin pulled off in one piece, and from that moment, I feel a hand reach in and rip my heart out. I see him look up, a bloody unrecognizable mess of flesh that has somehow lived through this ordeal, and I'm suffocating and slowly dying along with him. She's just had babies but she's stuck in a cage, and she knows their fate. Her mind left her a long time ago but a part of her reason remains, her instinct for survival is there, her instinct toward love is alive. In an act of mercy, she kills her young, sparing them a lifetime of suffering and torture in a cage. And I feel the being that's not even yet conceived inside me, and I can see the life ahead of it, and I decide, just like she did, to keep my child from the pain of this world, and so it never comes to be.
I watch them through the bars of their cages. They have sadness in their eyes, desperate for help, desperate for someone to come and save them. There are untreated bruises on their bodies and cuts in their flesh. They are bleeding but no one stops to clean their wounds and bandage them, no pain medication of any kind is administered. Chemicals are pumped into their veins, strange sci-fi contraptions are screwed into their bodies, and they are injected everywhere with god knows what. These are the only moments of freedom they get outside of their cells -- moments when you can hear them scream, moments when their eyes show nothing but fear, moments when these majestic, strong creatures are reduced to pleading for mercy that never comes. The torture is long, the physical pain never ends, the mind's strength wanes, and the body slowly dies, trying to take the spirit along with it. And all I can do is watch from the sidelines because I have no right to intervene. I can scream but my voice isn't strong enough, I can fight for them but the law's not on my side. So with every injection, I feel a sting, with every bleeding sore, I feel my own strength diminish, and with every one of those animals that dies only to be replaced by countless others, a part of me is taken too.
She's so gentle and calm, she doesn't ask for much. Her dream is to be free in the wide open air, fresh food always beneath her feet. She just wants to give birth and watch her babies grow, wants to interact rather than be alone. Instead she's forced to become pregnant when she's not ready, when her body doesn't have the strength it needs. She's hooked up to a machine that steals what should be her baby's food, and then her baby is stolen. She'll never see him again. He's been taken to another place where he will never know the warmth of the sun on his face, where he'll never drink his mother's milk, where he won't have the room to move or grow. His life will end soon, he doesn't have much time, but his mother's body will be used like a machine until it is exhausted and deemed useless. And the loss they feel, the emptiness of not knowing freedom and family, is one I know too well.
They're wild and free, they have families and they love the water, they love the mountains. But one by one they're caught in painful traps, one by one they're shot dead, one by one they're caged and used for entertainment, or their body parts are used in superstitious or superficial ritual. One by one their populations dwindle, one by one they become the last ones until there are none left. One by one they die of poison because their homes are being attacked and destroyed as well, and they have no place left to go. "Civilization" begins pushing itself in on them, and one by one they are crushed, run over, and forced away with no regard. One by one they die of starvation, of lack of shelter, of capture, of needless hunts on their kind, regarded as prizes or threats. One by one their dignity is torn away and they are left with nothing, dead or forgotten, abandoned when they're no longer needed. And when their space is taken, so is mine, and when their air and water are poisoned, so are mine, and when they're caged and forced into submission, so am I.
All she ever wanted to do was make her owner happy, and all he ever wanted to do was keep his owner safe. Instead, they're kept from food, clean water, and shelter. They're chased and hit, beaten down. They're left out on the streets to fend for themselves. But all they ever wanted was a warm hand to hold them and a smiling face to greet them. Instead they're set afire, or thrown out a window, or left on a highway, or drowned. In some places, their kind are captured and slaughtered for food, but not before being tortured. But she's so gentle and sweet, and he just wants to play, he promises to obey. They don't fight back, and when they do, it's of no use, they're not big enough to avoid being overtaken. And every time their trust is abused, every time they are taken in with greedy intentions, I lose my trust in others, I become afraid, and I can't believe what they say.
I feel their pain because they are me. They are a part of me and I'm a part of them. We are different, yet the same. We feel fear and pain, but we also feel love and security. We just want freedom and family, we want happiness, we want life. It's as simple as that. I know that, just as I feel them, they feel me, and all I can do is try to be a fraction of what they are, have a fraction of their strength, a fraction of their beauty, a fraction of their intelligence. So all I can do is try to help, make some changes in my own life to bring about positive change in theirs, and hope that someday we'll all feel their pain and realize what we've done.