Friday, June 24, 2011

Do You Feel Like Giving Up?

There are times when even the most caring educator or activist wants to throw in the towel and give up their outreach work.  If you want to stay motivated to be a voice for the voiceless in society, just keep your eyes open to what is going on around you.
Trust me: Your despair or hopelessness at seeing/knowing what goes on in the world behind closed doors and gates is nothing compared with the amount of suffering that these beings are experiencing….
I wouldn’t say my eyes are really wide open this week, but even so, I have watched bulls being sold at a roadside who were crammed together in a panic as they were being loaded into trailers from three different ranches.  I was out running and stopped to witness what was happening.  They all turned and looked at me.  I felt helpless.  What was being done to them was legal and I couldn’t stop it at that moment.
Today I spoke with relatives who found a dead mother mouse in their garage.  Soon after, they found the babies who were so tiny they were crawling on the concrete floor to try to get to the mother.  These were nursing babies.  They put the babies on a shovel and put them in the woods.  When I said that these were babies, this relative reminded me that they are mice and not cute like chipmunks and squirrels.  I then reminded this relative that even the not-cute babies suffer and need care.

This evening I went past a newspaper on the table and saw the story of the Minnesota Zoo killing a wolf who escaped his enclosure.
There are plenty of incentives and reminders to keep speaking up for all species.  Keep your eyes open.

We have been waging a war on domestic and wild non-humans for most of history.  We do not have to.  It is not necessary for our survival to keep animals in enclosures, kill them for food, experiment on them, breed them or use them for entertainment.  We can choose a whole new path.  We can choose a path of caring and compassion for all beings. 

So, when you have those moments where you think your voice doesn’t matter or you are just feeling too sad or hopeless to continue doing outreach, remember who is counting on you.  Imagine yourself in their position.  You would never want those speaking out for you to give up because the work was too difficult or because they felt too sad thinking about you.  Do whatever it takes to keep yourself feeling healthy and strong mentally and physically. Then, take that strength out into the world and plant every seed of compassion you can.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Three Lucky Dogs         

One of the hardest parts of being on the road is seeing the trucks filled with imprisoned animals being transported to slaughter or feedlots.
We are driving through Michigan right now and it is 95 degrees and humid.  I want to complain about the nasty heat and my sticky skin as we travel 4 hours today.  I just got a nice cool dunk in Lake Michigan and had a beautiful fresh fruit breakfast.  I know exactly how long our trip is and that it ends at a lake where all three of us can swim.  I am drinking water the whole way.  I have endless choices for making this ride more comfortable.

A truck packed solidly with pigs passed us.  I could see their noses sticking through any hole in the transportation trailer.  I watched them panting heavily.  I can only imagine the temperature in there with bodies so crowded there is no room for them to move and no air circulation around their skin.   The stench must be intense for them.  From the location printed on the truck, it looks like they have about 15 hours to go.  They don’t know that.  They don’t get the bathroom breaks, water breaks, snacks and walks that we get when we travel even just two hours.  Their urine and feces covers the floor of the truck and must be hell for their olfactory senses that are many times more sensitive than a dog’s.  Given proper space, they will never pee or poo anywhere near where they rest or eat.  They are also as smart and sensitive as dogs and have relationships with each other and other species.  Anyone who has visited one of the sanctuaries that rescue farmed animals knows that pigs love affection, freedom to roam, a good swim on a hot day and a great meal. 

Now I want you to imagine you are a prisoner (as these pigs are) who has committed no crime (as these pigs have not commited any crime).  

One day, without any notice you are loaded with all the other prisoners into a semi trailer (or slave ship or train car).  No one tells you why you are being loaded on the truck or where you are going or how long it will take. You are crammed in so tightly that you can barely move. There are holes on the side of the truck, but you are not near any and you are having a hard time getting any fresh air.  You do not know why you are being transported and you do not know when you will arrive at the destination.  You hope you will get food and water, but you have no way of knowing that.  It is in the 90’s and humid.  3 hours into the trip you are feeling tired of standing, but you don’t want to sit down on the floor covered in urine and shit.  The heat and the smell make you feel sick.  The truck has stopped twice, and the driver has been eating, drinking and using the bathroom, but never even checks in on you and the other prisoners.  At 5 hours into the trip you are so exhausted you find that you have slid down to the floor and are covered in urine and shit, both your own and your fellow prisoners.  When the driver stops, he parks in the sun and the hot foul odors attracts flies.  You are all covered in flies, many of them biting.  Everytime the truck stops you pray the doors will open and you will get some air and maybe water and food.  But it does not happen until many stops and 15 hours later, when the doors finally open.  Many prisoners are too sick or lame to walk out of the trailer, but you and the others are forced down a ramp with electric prods.  Some are crawling and dragging their legs to try to escape the pain of the prods. You notice that a few of the prisoners have collapsed and died during the trip.  You step over them.

OK, I will stop there.  I won’t take you through the next horrific steps in the death process for animals we call food. prisoners in trains.

I would love a video monitor to be installed at every meat and dairy counter in every grocery store.  These would show the background reality for the animals who were raised, trucked and slaughtered for these “foods”.  (Yes, even dairy cows are slaughtered for meat at a young age.  And yes, their young are torn away from them so that humans can have the milk meant for their young.  And yes, the male calves are slaughtered immediately or are raised for veal…so don’t give me the “I am a vegetarian and that is enough rap) 
Downed veal calf unable to walk at slaughterhouse.

So, do you think knowing the reality would change people’s choices in the grocery?  I know that many people, including me, can view the horrors and then go into denial even a day later.  But what if it was right there in front of them as they pick up that package of bacon or chunk of cheese?  Are we capable of acting on what we know?  Some humans are capable of this, but even some of the best in terms of their values being consistent with their choices are not always consistent and responsible with their spending power. 

We are still cruising down the road.  The windows are open.  Bean, our dog, has the whole back seat and a dish of tofurky slices cut into little pieces and ice water to go with it.  We get out of the truck every hour and run around and find water for her to jump into.  There is no foul odor in the truck from her not being able to get out when she needs to pee or poo…..and although she doesn’t know how long we will be driving today, she knows there will be pleasure at the end of it.  In one hour we will arrive at the place we will park for the next week or so.  When we arrive, we will step out of the truck and race to the clear cool lake only a minute from our parking place.  We are so grateful.  We are three lucky dogs.