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Easter: An invitation to sadness

April 4, 2015

Imagine if I invited you over for holiday dinner.  Imagine the centerpiece of the table will be a delicious dog with stuffing coming out of its abdominal cavity.  I will take the blood and fat that runs off from cooking it and add flour and pour the dog’s blood and fat over its muscle tissue.  I will call this gravy as I slice the dog open.  It will be tender and delicious.  And you will smell the flesh of the dog cooking when you enter my home. How do you feel about my invitation to dinner?

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Would you consider yourself rude or a picky eater for declining my invitation?  Would you consider yourself way too sensitive for coming but refusing to eat my dog?  Would you be comfortable?

What would your opinion be of me if you tried to explain to me why you will not eat a dog for Easter or for any other meal and I say “it’s my personal choice”.  I say I don’t want to know how the dog lived or died, I would rather stay ignorant.  Or I laughed and joked about the dog and did not care that it had suffered its whole life to become our 10 minute meal.  Maybe I even made barking noises as I rolled my eyes at you.  Would you sit at the table with me?  Would you still be my friend?

Imagine how you feel about your own dog.  Imagine how this feeling extends to all dogs and not just your own; ones you see in the shelters that you know will not be rescued or tethered to chains outside in the cold.  The dogs you read about forced to be in fights or to race until they are spent and then thrown away or experimented on.  You may feel helpless, hopeless at times.  You want to rescue them all.  The pain you feel because of the love or caring and/or understanding of these creatures is real and tangible even though those dogs are not your own.  And you’re in good company because most people feel the same way.  But what if they didn’t?  What if no one cared and you were the only one who did?  How much more hopeless would that make you feel?  This is what it is like to be vegan at every meal, at every holiday.  And I don’t need to tell you how it feels.  Because you already know the feeling.

You wouldn’t expect anyone to celebrate Easter with a slaughtered dog as the centerpiece of the holiday table. In fact you don’t want that to happen at anyone’s table.  That is what veganism is so you know exactly what it feels like to be vegan.  If you don’t want to sit at that table or be made to see that animal while you’re trying to eat or celebrate a holiday with family and friends, then you can’t expect anyone else to sit at a table with an animal they care about as the centerpiece either.  As far as veganism is concerned we feel the exact same way about the animals we care about.  The only difference between you and someone who is vegan is that once we stop allowing culture to dictate to us which animals deserve to be slaughtered and sliced on the table we realize that none do.  Just as we realized years ago that no man deserved to be a slave.  This realization is already inside of us because we do partially realize it now or else everyone would have dog or cat on the table this Easter as well as any other animal and not think a thing about it.

When our pets die,  we never think ‘meat’.  We never see its flesh as a ‘waste’ if we do not eat it. This is because we know that a dog is not a meat.  We see a dog for what he or she is:  a dog.  Not a commodity or a product or a material.  This feeling is no different to what it feels like to be vegan.  We already understand the pain and trauma that animals such as a dog have been forced to endure and just how terrible it makes us feel.

We know today that a Black man is a human, not a slave or a commodity.  But there was a time when a Black man was not classified as a human being.  The atrocities that occurred as a result are simply beyond comprehension.

Today we see a dog as an animal.  But chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs and lambs we see as a commodity.  Certain baby animals and sick animals are classified as trash, meaning you can bag them up while still alive and throw them away.  And yet these are all animals, the same as a dog.  The same as a black man was not a slave, but a man forced to live as a slave.

Today we can imagine what it must have been like to be a slave because we understand now that all humans are human.  We can see ourselves having to endure something so horrible since we are human too.  We know it is unacceptable, a horror beyond horror.   But there was a time when we could not see the horror because we believed that a Black man was not the same as other humans. It made what was happening to them acceptable.

This is the same reason we do not see the eating of animals used for food as a horrible thing today. Because we do not see them the same as we see a dog.  And yet there is no difference.  An animal is an animal.  What is unacceptable for one human, such as slavery, is unacceptable for all humans.  What is unacceptable for one animal, such as a dog being bred for the soul purpose of ending its life in a slaughter house and being sliced open on our Easter table, is unacceptable for all.

This Easter I ask you to consider life, not some life, but all life.  At minimum to get in touch with the person who cares about the bad things that happens to others; that is already within you.  We are the same.  We feel the same.  It is only the culture that divides us.  But together we can create a new culture.  What the culture takes from us piece by piece from the time we are children until we reach adulthood we can take back from it, peace by peace.

“I once read about a monster called the Extracator, that lived off people’s souls. Only, the thing was, the Extracator ate a person’s soul in their sleep over a 16 year period. Like it would nibble off a crumb every night, until there wasn’t anything left. So a person had no way to realize what was going on. They just had this vague sense that something was slowly disappearing.” (Special 2006)

Peace my friends.  You are important to me.

 

 

From → Journal

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