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Comments by Ruth Eisenbud - 7 May 2010

In Reference to: Say No to Sanctified Animal Abuse

FIRST DO NO HARM:

You state: “BTW, I do not use “dominion” as a model of compassion, but I do use many other Jewish teachings.”

Rabbi Gershom states: "You will NEVER get me to re-write the Torah to suit your needs, nor will any other rabbi do that. The Torah permits slaughter, period."

RE: When you note that you do not wish to relinquish the allowable slaughter and harm to animals, as stated in the Torah, you do in fact promote the dominion model of animal compassion, which is based on the assumption that man may ab(use) and slaughter animals for his own benefit. The contradiction between this basic premise and cosmetic gestures of compassion you note, is so great that it trivializes the very meaning of the word compassion.

RE: As an analogy: an oil drilling rig that is run by solar energy appears to show concern for the environment, as it supports the status quo of an energy model dependant on fossil fuel. when you support a model of compassion based on sanctified violence, the appearance of compassion is presented, as the model of compassion which allows for human exploitation is preserved.

RE: You call for common ground. How is possible to have common ground between a position that allows for the slaughter and harm of animals with one of compassion.

The bottom line is that when you promote values which do include allowable ab(use) and slaughter of animals to benefit man it not not compassionate, no matter how well you treat them before you kill them. You cant have it both ways. It is not possible to teach compassion based on violence.

‘As you do good, non-cooperation with evil is essential’ Gandhi

RE: Promoting values which include harm and abuse, despite lovely words of compassion does not lead to an end to animal suffering.

RE: The Reverend Andrew Linzey, Professor of Religion, Oxford University is a Christian theologian who works to end animal suffering. He has the courage and integrity to acknowledge that only a model based on ahimsa has resulted in compassion. His primary goal is to end animal suffering, not preserve harmful religious values. In his words:

“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.

These words of the venerable Mahavir found in the Acharanga Sutra are some of the profoundest ever found in a religious scripture. They are a result of a tremendous but simple spiritual discovery: all life is holy, sacred or God-given. Life, therefore, hasintrinsic values – and all that lives has an interest in living.

To almost all Jains this will sound obvious. But to many in the West, this spiritual realization has been a long time coming. It is true that many religious traditions contain notions of non-violence. The first Buddhist precept is not to kill. The Hebrew Bible speaks eloquently of how the lion will lie down with the lamb. And in Christianity there is the idea that love will finally triumph over violence. But only Jainism has made ahimsa its central doctrine. It alone has consistently held the vision of a peaceable world, realizable by moral effort and spiritual discipline.

A while ago, I was interviewed about the awful record of Christianity on animals in comparison with Jainism, and I commented that Jainism in its care and respect for creation has more understood the Christian doctrine of love than Christians have themselves. This may sound a very odd comment coming from a Christian theologian, and it certainly aroused a lot of criticism. But I still believe that Jains have grasped something that most religionists have missed: to live a life without reverence for life is to lead a spiritually impoverished life.”

Respectfully,

Ruth Eisenbud