The following is excerpted from the author’s award-winning novel, Jean Christophe.
In those hours when he was weak with suffering, torn alive away from life, devoid of human egoism, he saw the victims of men, the field of battle in which man triumphed—in the bloody slaughter of all other creatures. And his heart was filled with pity and horror.
Even in the days when he had been happy he had always loved the animals: he had never been able to bear cruelty towards them; he had always had a detestation of sport, which he had never dared to express for fear of ridicule. Perhaps he had never dared to admit it to himself, but his feeling of repulsion had been the secret cause of the apparently inexplicable feeling of dislike he had for certain men.
He could not think of the animals without shuddering in anguish. He looked into the eyes of the beast and saw there a soul like his own, a soul which could not speak: but the eyes cried for it: "What have I done to you? Why do you hurt me?
Grant animals a ray of reason and imagine what a frightful nightmare the world is to them. A dream of cold-blooded men, blind and deaf, cutting their throats, slitting them open, gutting them, cutting them into pieces, cooking them alive. Sometimes laughing at them and their contortions as they writhe in agony. Is there anything more atrocious?
To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the suffering of animals than in the suffering of men, for with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal.
But thousands of animals are butchered every day without a shadow or remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime. That alone is the justification of all that men may suffer. It cries vengeance upon all the human race.
If God exists and tolerates it, it cries vengeance upon God. But if there exists a good God, then even the most humble of living things must be saved. If God is good only to the strong, if there is no justice for the weak and lowly, for the poor creatures who are offered up as a sacrifice to humanity, than there is no such thing as goodness, no such thing as justice. #
|And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to
What are your multiplied sacrifices to me? ...Cease to do evil; Learn to do good; seek justice; reprove the ruthless.
|Merely by ceasing to eat meat, merely by practicing restraint,
we have the power to end a painful industry.
We do not have to bear arms to end this evil, we do not have to contribute money, we do not have to sit in jail or go to meetings or demonstrations or engage in acts of civil disobedience.
Most often, the act of repairing the world, of healing moral wounds, is left to heroes and tzaddikim, saints and people of unusual discipline. But here is an action every mortal can perform--surely it is not too difficult !
The author, ROBERTA KALECHOFSKY, is founder of