And now, for something completely different…. (And you probably assumed this post would come at some point….)
Today the nation celebrates the magnificence that was Martin Luther King Jr: one of the most powerful, brave and significant activists of all history. He was at the helm of non-violent protests for civil rights, working tirelessly to abolish racism from federal and state law. In this blog post, I have to grab this opportunity to praise Martin Luther King Jr. and his philosophy against violence as a proponent for social change.
Personally, I cannot comprehend such hate — especially due to skin color (we are all of the human race and deserve to be treated as such no matter the culture, skin color, disability, etc), there still lives despicable and violent discrimination among humans. The race struggle still continues for women, for non-binary genders, those who aren’t straight, and/or have disabilities — the list goes on — and I consider myself an activist and ally for these social change movements. There has been a lot of positive change for humans, but there’s relatively little being done for animals.
For twenty years I frankly didn’t care enough to learn the truth about how the items I bought or ingested came to fruition through animals. I was a typical American… I thought that animals lived on “happy farms,” cows needed to be milked, humans required calcium through that milk and needed protein through meat. I always considered myself a lover of animals and thought I did everything I could to rescue animals in need when they crossed my path. I was deluding myself when things were as simple as steak and potatoes for dinner.
But college friends started opening my eyes. I didn’t defend my Standard American Diet, but I listened and decided to seek the scientific truth out. It turned out that everything I thought I knew about the way animals were treated was b.s. First I adamantly studied the way animal products I thought were good for me interact with the human body. Spoiler: there’s no reason to eat animal products other than the taste (which is now so easily replaceable through spices and other plant-based products, even taste is a moot point; and eating vegan is cheaper on my wallet [as my partner has been learning]). But what kept me away from taste-temptations was the horrible violence I witnessed equal to that of the holocaust, slavery and terrorism. (I’m not even sensationalizing any of these statements. Please see this peer-reviewed fact sheet, Earthlings, and [on Netflix] Forks Over Knives.)
You and I are animals (unless you’re an alien, robot, ghost or other non-human intelligence reading this [hi!]). We are all part of an ecosystem, not an egosystem. Consider the hierarchy of humanity forced upon animals. Take for instance dogs and pigs: pigs are smarter than dogs by average, they love intensely and care for their offspring, become attached to families of all types of animals, cuddle and play. (Remember Babe?? Total animal rights movie… as with Free Willy, Fly Away Home, etc.) Pigs are proven to be as smart as a three year-old child — I see them no different than dogs and no different than a precious child that needs looking-after. We would all likely stand up if we witnessed evidence of a child or a dog subjected to brutalization. Why not a pig?
Unfortunately, we are socialized to think about animals as being there “for us” rather than “with us.” Martin Luther King Jr. had a similar approach for humans by encouraging us to engage with our compassion and rise above violence and prejudice. Consider if animals were the ones in charge and we were killed, tortured and exploited for their entertainment or because we simply “taste good” (as I’m sure we do)? That’s the animal’s reality right now; there truly is an animal holocaust going on. If we commit to living compassionately, to learning the real facts and taking advantage of our human intelligence, we can rise above violence and bigotry. Compassion — especially for those with no voice — is a noble virtue and one that we can all get behind.
And yes, I have a dream of equality too. Let’s practice what we preach.