The "big picture" question of our culture of violence goes far beyond the US epidemic of gun violence, and far beyond even misogynistic violence against women.
I saw the graphic above at the Engaging Peace website. It's a pretty good overview, in my opinion, of the many layers and levels of violence you can find in our culture. I plan to post more about this as the year goes on.
Today I'm thinking about animal cruelty.
Sixteen years ago, I became a vegetarian (with a lapse into pescatarianism). For a month now, I've been eating as a vegan, removing all animal products from my diet -- including eggs and dairy. This is always a process; I still have some leather shoes, and as part of my process I will move away from wearing animal products over time.
Part of our culture of violence is "othering" -- it's failing to see the oneness of life on earth. This is something we do with animals; we see them as "less than", and treat them accordingly. I believe we will live in a better world when we begin to treat non-human animals with compassion. And not everyone is aware of it, but the vast majority of the meat that people consume comes from factory farms. And factory farms are rife with appalling cruelty toward animals. (In addition, factory farming creates an enormous amount of global warming gasses.)
Today, I went to a Humane Society rally against cruel farming practices. These rallies are happening all over Massachusetts, but I went to the one in Dracut. I am sharing here a few photos from this rally.
To the left, a "human gestation crate" gives a picture of what gestation crates for pigs are like (click on the picture to see it larger). You can watch a Humane Society video that shows and explains the issues with gestation crates at this link.
Today's rally was specifically about ending the cruel confinement of farm animals in Massachusetts. Gestation crates for pigs are one of the very cruel practices. Another cruel practice is the use of battery cages for hens.
To the right is a picture of a battery cage (again, click on the picture to see it larger). These are not very big at all. It would be a little cramped for one hen, and very cramped for three hens. Sadly, ten to thirteen hens are sometimes found in these cages. You can watch a Humane Society video that shows and explains the issues with battery crates at this link.
The rally was also about prohibiting veal crates for baby cows. You can read about some of the issues with veal crates at this link.
Want to take action? You can support H1456/S741 here in Massachusetts. You can call or write your state representative/senator.
One easy way to get started is to visit this link. There's a petition here to start you on your way.
Another great way to take action is to eat less meat and animal products, or perhaps even to stop eating meat and animal products. As Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the book Eating Animals, tells us, “50 billion animals are factory-farmed every year. It’s the number one cause of global warming, it’s responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than everything else put together and the UN has said it's one of the top two or three causes of every single environmental problem on the planet.” (See this link for more.) It is a new level of cruelty and pollution and offense to nature. So people of our modern times are faced with a new reality. As Foer puts it in Eating Animals, “We can’t plead ignorance, only indifference. Those alive today are the generations that came to know better. We have the burden and the opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into the popular consciousness. We are the ones of whom it will be fairly asked, ‘What did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals?’”