A Global appall has arisen over the illegal killing of Cecil the Lion. People are outraged that Walter J. Palmer took this lion’s life and indeed, we all should be.
But Cecil’s killing raises a bigger question that I hope we can begin to acknowledge and in turn make changes in our own lives. We are outraged over the poaching of a lion who was protector to six cubs, but we do not think twice about taking a calf from its mother so that we can have milk – to drink, for butter, for ice cream.
In 2011, Dr. Holly Cheever, DVM retold her firsthand story of a dairy cow who had twins, brought one calf to the farmer and kept the other hidden. The farmer took the first calf for veal and placed the mother right into the milking line, but her udder was dry. For eleven days her utter was dry. On the eleventh day, the farmer followed the cow out to the pasture, only to find the hidden calf who had been drinking her milk. He took the calf for veal and sent the mother back to the milking line.
We do not think twice about the chickens that live in horrid conditions so that we can have eggs.
In a 2013 Huffington Post article, Bruce Friedrich, Director of Advocacy and Policy at Farm Sanctuary wrote
‘Battery cages are small wire cages where about 95 percent of laying hens spend their entire lives; each hen is given about 67-76 square inches of space (a standard sheet of paper measures 94 square inches). To get a sense of a hen’s life in a battery cage, imagine spending your entire life in a wire cage the size of your bathtub with four other people. You wouldn’t be able to move, so your muscles and bones would deteriorate. Your feet would become lacerated. You would go insane. That’s precisely what happens to laying hens.’
What gives us the right to treat chickens like this? If you are appalled over the killing of Cecil, you should be equally appalled about this.
We do not think twice about where our meat comes from and the cruel and abusive situations that pigs and calves and cattle endure. You should be appalled about this.
Nor do we think twice about our accessories, like that Crocodile Birkin bag, which just recently model Jane Birkin has asked to have her name removed from. Hermès, maker of the bag issued this as part of their statement:
Hermès imposes on its partners the highest standards in the ethical treatment of crocodiles. For more than 10 years, we have organized monthly visits to our suppliers. We control their practices and their conformity with slaughter standards established by veterinary experts and by the Fish and Wildlife (a federal American organization for the protection of nature) and with the rules established under the aegis of the U.N.O, by the Washington Convention of 1973 which defines the protection of endangered species.
When I read this statement, the term ‘slaughter’ slapped me in the face. We slaughter animals for bags and shoes and belts and couches, when we have perfectly fine alternatives. You should be appalled about this.
We are so removed from Nature and so in love with having things that we consume and consume and consume without thought.
What is our place in the world?
We are unconscious. We live unconsciously. If we don’t see it we don’t think about it.
Our place in the world should be as protector and caretaker not as the gross takers we are.
I was watching a TV show with my son and the commercials made me sick to my stomach. One after the other – a bigger hamburger, all you can eat fish, pasta, ribs, a ridiculous pizza. Why? It’s gluttonous.
We have to do better. We have to find some sense of balance in our lives where our abilities to create and reason meet with our hearts and our awareness. We need to wake-up and not only see where our food, clothes, materials and fuel come from, but we then need to choose to live differently.
Money drives our world. If we don’t buy it, there is no reason to make it. We have to wake-up. We are bombarded by advertisements that program us to want more, to eat more, to buy more, when we actually don’t need any of it.
We do not own this planet. No one gave us the deed to do what we please. We have stolen that right and we are making one bad choice after another.
If you are appalled by the killing of Cecil, then do something about it, put your appall to work. Look at your own life and start to make meaningful changes that help to create a new way of being human.
We have to do better.