Gratitude:
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

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Gratitude:
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

By Ruth Eisenbud

To members of the media (November 2010):

The following was distributed last year to coincide with the holiday season of the Judeo-Christian religions. The only factor that has changed is the price of turkey meat. At that time it was .39/lb, it is now selling for .59/lb. Due to the biblical concept of dominion a turkey's life still has no intrinsic value.

Gratitude: A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

It's that time of year again - the 'holiday season', a time for rejoicing and celebration, at least for humans. Thanksgiving is meant to be an expression of gratitude. Christmas celebrates the birth of a man of peace. Yet for animals there is no peace. At this time of year their slaughter rises dramatically, reaching a feverish peak of 45 million turkeys just for one day of giving thanks. Christmas is no different as every manner of animal is killed for sumptuous feasts: pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, cows, deer, kangaroos, rabbits, fish and even Rudolph. Yes one can even buy reindeer meat to celebrate Christmas.

How, then is it possible to justify violently taking so many lives in the name of gratitude and peace?

The answer lies in the Judeo-Christian view of animals known as dominion, which allows for their slaughter to benefit man. Though the slaughter of animals appears to be a contradiction, dominion has provided an escape clause, as it considers human life superior to and more valuable than animal life. In this paradigm a turkey's life is valued at 40 cent/lb as s/he is considered property, not as a living being whose life has intrinsic worth.

The following is a timely plea for compassion for all the creatures with whom we share the earth. It notes the abusive nature of dominion and advises on another route to compassion:

Look within:

Please tell me what divine presence, (God, Vishnu, Christ, Allah, The Great Mother, or whatever you call it) would want any living being to suffer? The dominion model is a political expedient of human control. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Divine Grace. Compassion is divine and cannot exist in the shadow of dominion. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus the Christ (a rabbi!) says "if you bring forth what is within, what you bring forth will save you; if you do not bring forth what is within what you do not bring forth will destroy you." I believe if you look within you will find that divine spark which guides you to a life of compassion and one of 'do no harm.' Look around you, the Earth, our culture, everything we've created is being destroyed. Only compassion can save the world/earth. Please look within.
- Sharon Azar, (animal rescuer & author)

In India, the situation is reversed, as the number of animals slaughtered decreases during Jain religious holy days. The Indian view of animals is encompassed in a principle called Ahimsa: ALL LIFE IS SACRED: human and animal. Jains are strict vegetarians. In the Indian state of Gujarat, which boasts a high percentage of Jains, the slaughter houses of non-Jains are closed, as the thought of killing during this sacred time is intolerable. Though Jains do not have the same political clout in the west, they have found a peaceful way to protest the massacre, carried out in the name of gratitude.

Jains living the United States have created a prayer for Thanksgiving, with the hope that those celebrating will consider a more humane diet, one consistent with gratitude:

Thanksgiving Prayer

Today we give thanks for this vegetarian/vegan meal and the people who have labored to harvest and prepare this meal for us. We give thanks for the many lives that have contributed to our lives. We also ask for forgiveness from the living beings that we have harmed, intentionally and unintentionally.

We are grateful for our health and the opportunity to eat with others on this day. We aspire, with compassionate hearts, to use the energy that we gain from this meal and our friends to contribute to the peace and happiness of all living beings.

We pray that all the people of the world will avoid inflicting harm on animals and fellow human beings and practice nonviolence and compassion. We express our sorrow at the suffering of all the turkeys and other animals that have died. May peace and compassion grow in ourselves and extend to all around us.