Shooting Ourselves in the FootHardening Hearts Through Slaughter
A Shooting Ourselves in the Foot: The Sanitizing of Violence in Our Society Article from

Throughout the ages, we have accepted killing, violence, and violent behavior as just being a part of life - it's time we change!

By: Frank L. Hoffman

[Ed Note:] The following Letters to the Editor were published in Animal People. The first one, by Frank L. Hoffman, was published in the June 2003 edition. And the second one, by Greta Bunting, appeared in the September 2003 edition.

Hardening Hearts Through Slaughter

I was very impressed with your May 2003 review of the Humane Education Trust video Saving Baby Ubuntu and commentary entitled "A video that never mentions Heifer Project International shows why their premise is wrong."

You wrote, about the effect that animal agriculture has on the emotional well-being of our society:

"…the process of hardening children toward the inevitable suffering of the animals raised for meat typically begins with encouraging children to bond with animals...whom the children are later forced to sell for slaughter. That tear-jerking ritual should be recognized by now as a form of psychological child abuse..."

As a retired pastor and longtime worker for animal liberation and cruelty-free living, I can well relate to this form of child abuse.

When I read this article, I recalled a May 1996 National Geographic article about Peru. There was a photograph of two young children with hands over their ears, eyes closed, and very disturbed looks on their faces as they tried to mute the screams and squeals of pigs who were being killed. Their mother had brought them to witness the slaughter while she collected the pig’s blood to make sausage.

Jim Mason, whom many Animal People readers know as the author of An Unnatural Order and co-author of Animal Factories, was also traumatized by the slaughter of pigs.

When Jim was five years old he walked out into the back yard of his farm home in Missouri, and for the first time saw pigs being killed. He saw their bodies hanging from a tree. What he saw and smelled and heard so traumatized his God-given sensitivities that he became seriously ill and suffered nightmares for days, and had to be taken to his aunt's home for a while. Jim says, "I was reluctant to return to the farm. I still have a memory blackout of that time. My last memory is the image of those pigs' bodies hanging from the tree, the tub full of heads, and the blood." For several years after this, his family sent young Jim to his aunt when they were slaughtering animals.

Hardening of the heart has permeated our religious communities to such an extent that it is causing distortions of the very principles of love, peace and compassion upon which these religions were founded. Every week we receive several letters from people who left the "church," or who are considering leaving, because of the hardness of heart they have encountered.

To my wife and me, these are constant reminders of the Biblical passage from Matthew 18:6 where we are told: "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

In 1998 I was communicating with a missionary in Chile, who was concerned about the changes taking place in his church and community since the agriculture in the area had begun changing from the traditional plant-based form to animal husbandry. He wrote of the increase of violence and the same hardening of hearts you wrote about. He also mentioned that there were increased health problems.

As long as a society condones violence of any kind, whether it be physical or mental, particularly when inflicted upon its children, they will never know true peace.

Frank L. Hoffman

4-H betrayal

I was very impressed by the letter in the June edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE from retired pastor Frank Hoffman, headlined "Hardening hearts through slaughter."

As a retired teacher, I am disgusted with the 4-H Clubs that teach boys and girls to gain a living creature's love and trust, only to sell the animal to slaughter. How do they expect young people to grow up to he trustworthy, truthful, and loyal if they are taught that it is all right to betray an innocent animal?

The 4-H Clubs should he ashamed of themselves.

----Greta Bunting

St. Petersburg, Florida

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