By: Frank L. Hoffman
The following letter was submitted to the Veg-Christian e-mail discussion group by The Rev. Michael Shaw of London, Ontario, Canada on 9 June 1998.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have heard some heart breaking news this evening.
Just outside of my home town city of London, is a small town called Ilderton. It was reported in the news today, that a party was held on one of the Ilderton farms in which 125 teenagers took part. The teenagers went to a neighbour's farm and stole a goat. They kicked it and stomped it to death, hacked it up and ate it... nothing was said as to whether they cooked it. We can only assume they did. One teenager of 18 years has been charged.
What causes our young people to act this way? If I didn't know better, I would say they were possessed. But, I will not blame demons for this, rather, it is simply the self-willed actions of the young people involved.
Sometimes I am at a loss for words or ideas on how to deal with things like this... At this point I can only pray... pray for the goat, the lost souls of the young people, and for some comfort to all those whose hearts have been hurt by this senseless deed.
This senseless act of violence didn't start on the day of this Ilderton farm party. This violence began in the lives of most, it not all, of these teenagers many years before. For someone to be so lacking in love and compassion for a fellow creature, they had to have been desensitized to feeling the pain and suffering they were causing the goat. We're not told, but they may even have been desensitized to the point that they were even getting some morbid pleasure from seeing this innocent goat suffer and die. They may even have had a sense of power through the act of eating the goat.
We sanitize violence by lovingly telling our children to go and watch television, where even our cartoons are filled with violence. In many of these cartoons, violence is presented in such a way as to appear "funny". We put smiling animal pictures on the packaging and advertising of meat and dairy products to make us "believe" that the animals actually "like" to go through the suffering and death that brings them to our tables, and we praise our children for eating them, and rarely is a word of remorse spoken for the animal that suffered or died. We implant the message, "It's good to kill. It's good to eat the flesh of another being."
The question that few in our society want to face, or much less address, is, "When does this sanitized violence in our society become real violence in the lives of our children? When does this violence begin to escalate?" We are systematically Shooting Ourselves in the Foot, and I'm afraid far too many of us are enjoying it.