(Photo: Public Domain-National Archives)
“The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
The education process is never ending. We are continuously taking in new information that can change our view of the world. Everything we say, wear and do is letting those around us know what we believe in…and may challenge what they see as the “norm”.
My friend Carrie is exceptional when it comes to living her values. She is a perfect example of walking your talk. Her carbon footprint is a tiptoe compared to most humans. Her compassion for all beings has no boundaries. Some years ago, Carrie rescued a blind hen. She named her 2Blindy, 2B for short, because this bird is the second blind bird she has shared her life with.
A few weeks ago, it seemed that 2B was on deaths doorstep and Carrie’s world turned upside down. She took time off work and drove 2B around on her lap in a blanket for hours trying to find a veterinarian who could help her.
The love between Carrie and 2B is obvious to anyone who has visited their home. 2B has run of the house, comes when called, eats organic food and most of the time only wants to be held, pet and loved. She is a needy kid and Carrie doesn’t mind meeting her needs. Carrie even fashioned a sling so she could keep 2B close and still get some work done.
I had the pleasure of chicken sitting for 2B for a few days and was woken up each day at about 6 am by a very demanding bird. There was no discussion. I had no choice. If I were to translate Hen-speak to English, it would have gone like this, “Good morning Rae, please get up and hold me….UM, RAE, CAN YOU HEAR ME? I NEED YOU TO WAKE UP….PLEASE GET UP AND HOLD ME!….GET UP AND HOLD ME RIGHT NOW!” as her escalating demands forced me out of bed. I picked her up and the shouts turned into contented purrs. Sweetness, total sweetness.
With 2B’s illness, they experienced many veterinary waiting rooms. Now, the loving bond between them, usually only witnessed by those who visit their home, was seen by the staff and everyone at each vet’s offices.
It can take time for people to realize that the living beings whom they think are food, actually have desires, personalities and are deserving of our care and love. Most people do not realize we can have a deep relationship with a chicken. In fact, many people would laugh at the idea. We are used to seeing people caring for a dog, cat, rabbit or ferret in the vet’s office, but Carrie and 2B were living ambassadors for chickens and the love that can exist between a person and their bird companion.
As Carrie sat crying and holding 2B in one office, a man in the waiting room boomed, “I’m hungry!”. He grabbed one of the bags of dog food on the shelf and then looked right at Carrie and said, “Hmmm, first ingredient, CHICKEN!” Carrie ignored him and continued to focus on 2B. When she came out of the examination room, this man had obviously changed his tune. He held the door for Carrie and 2B and helped them get arranged in the car. These are the little seeds that get planted and change the world.
Human culture has a long way to go in its evolution toward understanding each other and all species. One would hope that a veterinarian would be further along on the spectrum of understanding. But, one vet that Carrie saw said to her, “We could give her antibiotics, but are you going to eat her?” For those of us who have loved and cared for many species, and choose not to eat animals, this comment is the same as saying this to someone who is holding their dog or their human child. It sounds so absurd to be asked if we would eat our closest companion.
We are slowly evolving as we live somewhere on that arc of the moral universe. There will be a day when we will be shocked that we, as humans, could not look in the eyes of a chicken, sheep, cow or pig and see an individual deserving of a life of freedom and choice.
“200 years ago, Americans would have thought you were absurd if you advocated for the end of slavery. 150 years ago, they would have laughed at you for suggesting that women should have the right to vote. 75 years ago, they would have loudly objected to the idea of African Americans receiving equal rights under the law. They laugh at us now for suggesting that animal slavery be ended. Someday they won’t be laughing.” - Gary Smith