Defend the innocent, join the dots

Recently I saw a number of articles, images and videos that I found deeply moving.

• A dairy cow with severe head trauma had been thrown into a dumpster to die. She was standing, face bloodied, hunched in agony, looking at the camera.
• A cow of a breed commonly used for their dead flesh had escaped to live with a herd of wild bison. She had died of stress on being recaptured to be taken to a slaughterhouse to be killed.
• A pig adopted as a pet from an organisation that had rescued and nursed her back to health, was killed and eaten by her adopters, rather than being returned to the rescue organisation for rehoming.
• 48 roosters were handed over to an SPCA, defenceless individuals for whom places had been found with rescuers. Instead of releasing these 48 roosters to the homes that were ready and waiting for them, the SPCA had every one of them killed.

Now each of these stories provoked fury in the media and online. If asked to explain why these actions provoke such outrage, such anger and howls for vengeance, the majority of those people would say that they were distressed and furious because the acts were so completely pointless; they were so absolutely unnecessary; they were such blatant ‘cruelty’ to innocent and vulnerable individuals who were powerless to defend themselves. And they’d be absolutely correct, I can’t find much to dispute about that sentiment.

But the thing that is most significant in all of this outpouring of shock and grief and vitriol is that the vast majority of those expressing it were not vegan. So how is this relevant?

We’re talking about cows, a pig and some roosters. Let’s stop and consider from whom they needed to be rescued? From ‘bad’ people? From ‘cruel’ people?

No. Nothing nearly so fanciful. They needed to be rescued from ordinary people. They needed to be rescued from ordinary people whose consumer demands are paying to harm and kill so that they can buy dead flesh, eggs and the hormonal infant nutrient known as ‘milk’ from the stores. ‘Demand for harm and death’ is simply another way to express the consumer demands of those who are not vegan.

So in fact, these defenceless individuals who won hearts and minds wherever their tragic tales were told, were in that position of needing to be rescued from the very people who were angry about what had happened to them.

And the other key thing?  ALL of our use of the lives, bodies and reproductive systems of others, like the acts in the tales at the top of the page, is completely pointless, absolutely unnecessary; the deepest injustice imaginable, committed against innocent and vulnerable individuals who are powerless to defend themselves.

When we are not vegan, WE are the ones whose demands as consumers are directly responsible for each of these tragic tales. We’re not inherently ‘bad’ people. We’re not inherently ‘cruel’ people. But what we do need to do, is make the connection between those desperate creatures whose stories we hear, whose plight moves us to stand strong in their defence; and those whose systematic, normalised, horrific but equally unnecessary torment is conducted behind closed doors to meet our demands at the checkouts for their body parts, milk and eggs.

If we are not vegan, it’s not ‘other people’ who are responsible for the horror. WE are the ones who are responsible. And the huge irony in all of this is that when we are confronted with the reality of what we are doing, we struggle to comprehend the truth because in our own minds, our fictional narrative has convinced us that we are the kind of people who would never cause deliberate harm.

Think about it. Join the dots. Becoming vegan means that no one ever needs to be rescued from us again. Be vegan.

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3 Responses to Defend the innocent, join the dots

  1. Bill Ziegler says:

    Thanks for the kind post about “nice” people who participate in the charade. Most people (in my particular society anyway) never break from being ever-so-nice, but essentially cruel, to genuinely kind. Most people shrug their shoulders and, in terms of the serenity prayer, dismiss that “blatant cruelty” as one of those things they cannot change. That removes the complicity, and that’s where we come in. It is a joy to join together to change the things we all *can* decisively change. 🙂

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  2. Spunky Bunny says:

    So if a person needlessly harms innocent humans, does that act make that person “bad” or “cruel”? But when a person needlessly harms innocent animals they are NOT “bad” or “cruel”? Are you defending the victims or the perpetrators? Human Supremacism rears its ugly head everywhere. The message that one can needlessly harm innocent animals and still be a good person is very clear in this otherwise outstanding essay. I think I would be considered a psychopath if I said, “Needlessly harming innocent people does not make you bad or cruel.” But replace the word “people” with “animals” and all of a sudden the statement is now considered highly moral and respectful…. of the almighty, above-reproach, superior HUMAN BEING. Call a person “bad” or “cruel” for needlessly harming an innocent person, and everyone thinks you’re a great guy! Call a person “bad” or “cruel” for needlessly harming an innocent animal and everyone thinks you’re a piece of shit. It is ironic (and horrifying) to see the cause of the animal holocaust- human supremacism- alive and well in the animal liberation movement.

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    • When, as nonvegans, we feel outrage against actions such as are described here, we tend to assume that they have been committed by ‘bad’ people, or ‘cruel’ people. Experience tells me that we always tend to exclude ourselves from such categories. My point is that no one is inherently ‘bad’ or ‘cruel’ in the same way that neither you nor I were inherently ‘bad’ or ‘cruel’ in the days before we knew any better. We were simply people who had not yet joined the dots, not yet made the connections that we needed to make to understand that the actions that so infuriated us were being committed by ordinary people . People exactly like ourselves. Ourselves in fact.

      I have slightly amended the text in the hope of making this point clearer.

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