John Matteson, in his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Eden’s Outcasts, describes the mission of 19th-century New England educator and vegetarian Bronson Alcott as “liberating children from the hatreds and stupidities of their parents”. It is important to note that “hatred” often doesn’t feel like hatred, particularly where it is socially acceptable, traditional, or sanctioned by peer groups and Churches.
An example of a traditional “hatred” was the patronizing white slaveholder. The whites of the antebellum South were not “evil” people: in fact, they were noted for their civility and hospitality, as they are to this day. Yet in practicing the slave trade and keeping such trade going until the North forcefully intervened, those polite, Church-going pillars of southern society were practicing “hatred” toward blacks. Again, it didn’t feel like hatred, which we associate with strong passions, such as anger and hostility. . . but to the black about to be lynched for looking at a white woman, with genteel families in their Sunday best gathering for the event, it was hatred.
Our society, indeed, most of the human species, hates animals – but it doesn’t feel like hatred, as we sit down to eat parts of a chicken, or fish, or cow. But to the chicken, being warehoused in factory farms in cages so confining that hens can never even spread their wings, only to be eventually taken to a mechanized line where they are hung upside down with the feet clamped so their throats may be cut, and then dropped into scalding water (while many are still alive) to loosen their feathers – it is hatred. To the fish, being deceived into impaling oneself and then pulled out of the water to asphyxiate and then die, it is hatred. To the cow, to be impregnated over and over again, only to have calves ripped from them at birth, and using milk to fill up machines instead of nursing their offspring until they are spent, and then sent to slaughter, it is hatred.
Only when parents, churches, teachers, and other educators realize that hatred and violence must be considered from the point of view of the oppressed, and not the oppressor (i.e., the party in power), will we ever seen an expansion of fundamental rights and nonviolence in this world. Only when parents, teachers, churches, and other educators raise children to be vegan, will this world finally know peace. Otherwise, the hatreds and stupidities – of meat-eating, dairy consumption, fishing, hunting, and other forms of violence and exploitation – pass on, one generation of persons with underdeveloped empathy, to the next.