Ramblings From a Compassionate Heart
A Series of Commentaries
by Mary T. Hoffman
prayer, compassion, love, fear, hate, cruelty, abuse, cowardice, self-indulgence, sadism, truth, lies, pain, suffering, peace, emotions, comfort, creatures, humans, people, animals, God, Jesus, Christ, Holy Spirit, church, religion, politics
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Dancing Around the Truth
28 December 1998
This "ramble" was triggered by the Korean domestic animal conditions that have just been brought to my attention again. This is the type of problem I try to avoid thinking about, because the horror of it is simply beyond belief. I guess in this respect I am like most Americans. I just don't want to think that anything this unpleasant could possibly be allowed to exist on such a large scale with the blessings of the populace.
Unfortunately, I cannot plead ignorance. Once you know the truth about a situation, and provided you don't lie to yourself, your conscience (I believe it is the Holy Spirit's promptings) won't let you rest. By the way, there are a lot of people out in the world who will try to make you believe these atrocities really don't exist. Some of these people do this sort of lying for a living.
In our meat-eating, fur-wearing days when we thought it was fun to travel to foreign countries, often with groups of shallow people, I would suffer pangs of emotional anguish upon seeing evidence of hardness of heart in our host countries. To this day, after many years, the images that pop up in my mind when I think back to these travels are scenes of cruelty, and I experience the feelings of wanting to speak up and the feeling of shame for being so sensitive. After all, no one else seemed to think that this cruelty was wrong! Why did I have to be so different!
Years ago, as a college student I had worked in animal research in a medical school and, later, in a graduate school of public health. I had witnessed, as well as participated in, lots of inhumane treatment of animals. But I knew deep down in my heart that it was wrong. Contrary to popular belief, I think that everyone knows right from wrong. Sadism, whether it is expressed in passive ways or overt physical means, is alive and well in all countries. It is expressed in different ways in the various cultures.
If insanity is lying to oneself even in the face of evidence to the contrary, then there are an awful lot of psychotics in all walks of life in this world. Sometimes I think of the children's story about the emperor's new clothes. There is a lot of truth in that simple story. There are lies that are a part of a human family's method of coping, and there are lies people tell themselves and each other about the suffering of other humans and of animals. We simply have found it too easy to dance around the truth. Sometimes I wonder how God will make it up to people who have been falsely accused or maligned in this life. What about historical figures? How do we know what these people were really like?
Psalm 15:1-2 speaks about truth in this way:
1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart
I believe that truth is liberating and healthful spiritually, mentally and physically.
Have you ever noticed how children quickly learn to place blame on others, or justify their actions? They seem to be learning to lie to themselves. And by the time they reach adulthood, they've had enough practice so that they are pretty good at self-deception. Thus, another generation learns to dance around the truth.
Where animals are concerned, there is enormous self-deception. Most people, if they ever allow themselves to think about it at all or are forced to think about it, lie to themselves about the amount of unnecessary suffering animals endure. More dancing.
After becoming a vegan/vegetarian my eyes were opened to the enormous numbers of animals and animal-derived products that are used in all areas of our lives, from entertainment to the furniture we sit on, from the clothing we wear to the food we eat. As I started to read the labels, I began to notice that there were traces of animal products even in items that I had assumed were vegan: some brands of "non-dairy creamers", carob morsels (chocolate substitute) at the healthfood store, even the egg glaze of the bagels of a local shop.
We not only use and abuse animals; we don't even acknowledge our dependence on them. I would love to hear the people who are in the mainstream just admit the truth of what is going on all around them. The more we use and abuse them, the more we hold them in contempt. Our language is replete with expressions that denigrate animals. They truly are "scapegoats" to the human race. We project on animals negative qualities, even some that are exclusive to humans: sly fox, filthy pig, birdbrain, turkey, etc. We are so used to violence directed toward animals that expressions such as "killing two birds with one stone", "more ways to skin a cat" just pop out of our mouths.
Proverbs 3:3 says:
Do not let kindness and truth leave you (NASV)
I especially like the linking of "kindness" and "truth" in this Biblical advice. We who know the truth, and who are not dancing around it, must stand in the gap between the truth and the lies, presenting ourselves as living examples of God's love, compassion, and kindness. We need to be like the little boy in the story who cried out, "The King doesn't have any clothes on!"
From my heart,
Watercolor painting by Mary T. Hoffman
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