Whose Skin Are You In?

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Whose Skin Are You In?

By Lisa Selvaggio on ThirdEye.ParagonEarth.com
January 2010

There is the one who was alive and feeling, whose life was stolen for someone else’s selfish want.

There is the one caught in the trap, its leg held hard, unable to break free and in excruciating pain. The breath, the life, the walking in the wilderness called home, the pulse, the blood, and then snap! The pain, the confusion, the agony, the blood that spills out. And the endless cries for help that never comes, the heart beating faster, the blood pouring more swiftly. Then the attempt to break free by chewing at the hard metal trap. The blood from the mouth, the teeth breaking, the gums gone numb. Until death comes with its slow approach, welcomed, or a fast blow to the head by the profit-hungry soulless monster.

That is just one scene shown as part of the footage in the Tribe of Heart documentary titled “The Witness,” showing one man’s revelation of his connection to animals and then his plan to expose the cruelty behind the fur industry. This is just one scene, amidst the others of animals ranging from foxes to hares to ferrets. Then the scenes, filled with animal cries of those raised on fur farms in barren cages, cannibalizing each other, going mad with grief and a need for freedom that will never come. The man, heartless, grabbing the animal after cornering it, anally electrocuting it so as to preserve the coat that will be used for some human’s “fashion.” These scenes I can never get used to. They will always leave me breathless, tears streaming down my cheeks, wrenching and twisting my heart. Even just typing this makes me hands shake and my head weak. Because I have always been repelled by fur, I have never understood its purpose, never seen its supposed beauty after its been ripped from the animal it rightfully belongs to.

I sit at the dinner table at Christmas, and the women who love to try to prove to others that they are richer than they are discuss their dreams of mink coats before moving on to a discussion of old furs no longer used for clothing but rather turned into stuffed animals. I cringe and hold it in. They know who I am, they know what I am about, and yet they continue talking, almost to spite me, it seems. But it’s family, and I have to keep my cool. You can’t just run away from these people when you’re done arguing, you have to face them again. “That’s how it used to be,” they say after someone bursts forth with, “If you want a stuffed bear, why don’t you just go out into the woods and club a bear cub and leave it at that, so that the seal can keep being a seal and the fox could be a fox!” I can’t help but laugh at this comment, since it is really ridiculous that they take an old coat because “the fur starts to decay” and use it in a stuffed animal that isn’t even the same species. “But that’s how it was, they didn’t have synthetics back then, it was all fur,” they try to justify, as if they were born in tribal times instead of the 1950s. “No synthetics” – I doubt that much (see this site for proof). I think humanity had gotten to the point by then that it didn’t need animal skins anymore to keep warm.

At work, a coworker walks out into the cold winter weather of the northeast wearing a big fur hat someone brought back for her from Russia. I feel it, asking if it’s real, saying “how could you” as she confirms it is real. She replies that she doesn’t care about the animals killed for fur, because she never fed them, never cared for them, and so they mean nothing to her. Yet, this woman owns horses. I’m sure she would hate to see one of them end up in an illegal slaughterhouse to be used as meat, despite the fact that she’s a meat-eater, as I’m sure she wouldn’t want it killed just so someone could use its mane. The horse is the same as any other animal, captive or wild, yet she cares only because she has claimed ownership over it.

What will it take, I wonder, for people to realize that fur is not necessary, and it shows nothing of their status or wealth but everything of their ignorance and inability to empathize with animals that deserve to live – have a right to life – as much as the dogs or cats that they pamper with spa treatments and cute little outfits? What will it take for people to view the footage I view and make the goddamn connection? What will it take for people to understand that the cow, the pig, the chicken, the fox, the rabbit, the mouse, the bird, the reptile, the fish, and the pets they keep are ALL animals – thinking, feeling, knowing beings, living and evolving just like the rest of us? When will people stop making the distinction between the animals they can eat, the animals they can keep, and the animals they can skin? When will the brainwashing end, and when will people wake up, and what will it take? When will people realize that using animals, especially in cruel ways, is not a topic for debate? But most importantly, when will people realize that humans are animals too, equal and no better than the rest on this planet?

I don’t know if the day will ever come when an animal is respected and not trapped or raised for its fur, but I will work nonetheless to spread education about what goes into making those coats people love to show off. They may not see the bloody corpse of an animal that was skinned alive, or the animal caught in the elements with no way of breaking free, or the caged innocents with absolute fear in their eyes. I see those eyes on the screen and they haunt me. I see the images and they replay in my mind as the mindless chatter goes on outside of me and I try my best to be respectful as they continue to walk all over me. I see the blatant sadism and I question how people could be that way, as others justify it and think nothing of the violence and hatred. And then they wonder why people are so cruel towards each other. They, and their snide remarks about my lifestyle, my lifestyle which breeds life, not death. They make jokes or start arguments because they are afraid that they are wrong, and so they feel the need to justify their actions without even being provoked. And so my anger rages, and the passion burns brighter, and I promise those animals that I will try, at least try, to help them, even though I’m not quite sure yet just how I will.

There is the one who was alive and feeling, whose life was stolen for someone else’s selfish want.