In Memory of Daniel Shaull

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In Memory of Daniel Shaull

By Ruth Eisenbud

It is possible that these words and the associated compassionate lifestyle they engender would have been soothing to the soul of Daniel Shaull, providing him with the hope to live because with these values compassion for animals in not a hopeless dream.

On January 27, 2010 Daniel Shaull set himself on fire in front of Ungar's Fur Shop, Portland Oregon, to protest the wasteful and cruel abuses of the fur industry. Not much accurate information has been released about the life of Daniel Shaull. One thing is certain he was a hero willing to lay his life down, so that others would understand the abuse of animals that is so prevalent in our society, violence rooted in the spiritually poverty of religions which sanctify the use and slaughter of animals.

The fur industry, represented by the fur commissioner, unable to see his own complicity responded with the usual slurs of terrorism, going so far as to imply that this terrible tragedy was the result of the victims mental status and vegan diet. There were some mumblings about the high unemployment rate in Portland, somehow implying that the fur industry was necessary to provide jobs..

While furriers hawk their violently procured products, religious leaders of the Judeo/Christian religious tradition hawk their pious rendition of dominion and their religion as compassionate. They too are complicit in the death of Daniel Shaull as their 'compassion of convenience' left a caring and compassionate young man bereft of all hope:

In the Torah humanity is given dominion over animals (Gen. 1:26), which gives us the right to use animals for legitimate needs. Animal flesh can be consumed for food; animal skins can be used for clothing." Prof Richard Schwartz

The complicity for the death of Daniel Shaull rests squarely with those who kill the animals, sell and purchase their skins and piously promote religious values devoid of compassion for ALL beings.

It is tragic that Daniel had no hope that the situation for animals would ever improve...For many who see the ever spiraling increase in animal abuse despite their dedication and best efforts, there seem to be few choices.

To Daniel, I say: Thank you for your courage and empathy for the suffering of ALL living beings. You did what you thought was right and just. Your gesture will not be forgotten. It is tragic though that you did not see the value of your own life, it too was worth preserving. Perhaps you would still be with us if you would have had some hope.

For those who remain I offer the hope of benevolent religious values which respect and cherish the lives of ALL beings as these values result in greater compassion:

The Jain religion is indigenous to India and is one
of the oldest religions known to man. It's uniqueness
lies in it's total adherence to the principle of
Ahimsa - non-violence to all beings. In keeping with
this principle Jains are strict vegetarians and do not
wear leather, fur or silk, as these products result in
violence to other beings.

Historically Jains have proven to be a religious group
that spoke out for animals. During the time when it
was common practise in other religions to sacrifice
animals to God, the Jains spoke out against this
practise. Their scriptures specifically prohibit
animal sacrifice. In addition the Jains were the first
cultural/religious group to establish animal shelters
and to this day run them in India.

It is because of the belief that every living being
has a soul that Jainism teaches complete non-violence
to all living beings. The following is a quote from
the Acharanga sutra, words of Lord Mahavir, the last
great Jain teacher:

"For there is nothing inaccessible for death. All
beings are fond of life, hate pain, like pleasure,
shun destruction, like life, long to live. To all
life is dear." Jain Acharanga Sutra.

It is possible that these words and the associated compassionate lifestyle they engender would have been soothing to the soul of Daniel Shaull, providing him with the hope to live because with these values compassion for animals in not a hopeless dream.