Musings: Animals Deserve The Golden Rule Treatment
Scruff is a stubby legged Golden Retriever/Corgi mix with a long, lean body he enjoys twisting into yoga poses. He exhales big, cleansing belly breaths with his head swiveled to the right and back legs to the left, often napping that way. Scruff's natural yoga practice keeps his long spine flexible and aids the delicate digestive system of long-torso dogs. Like most animals that live or venture outside, Scruff spends his outdoor time with the bottoms of his feet in direct contact with Earth. "Earthing" — walking barefoot on natural ground — is the latest in wellness news, affirming that absorbing Earth's energy feeds the body's natural ability for maintaining vibrant health.
Those who know the joy and love a pet brings into a home also know that animals share their unique wisdom with us, including the secrets of natural healing. Unburdened by intellect and the opinions of others, animals are usually following the most direct path to wellness at any given moment, whether that means seeking safety, finding suitable food, snoozing comfortably or scoring some affection. Watching animals care for themselves offers plenty of insight for those attentive to their own self-care.
Books, oral history and today's headlines are filled with intelligence the human race has gained over thousands of years by interacting with other animal species. Yet according to FarmUSA.org, humans kill over 60 billion land animals for food each year worldwide. Estimates calculate that over 50 billlion marine animals are killed annually to satisfy just the US food supply demand. Add another 100 million animals killed in research, by hunters, furriers, in pounds or as "pests," and that translates into hundreds of billions of animals killed annually by just 7 billion human beings. This does not account for animals serving or enslaved by humans, captive but alive, perhaps tortured or denatured in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). Do humans have the right to dominate or kill other animals just because they can?
We've all grown up guided by the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you'd want to be treated yourself. Clearly we live in a culture where "other" does not extend to animals, though it's obvious they are sentient and intelligent beings that nurture their young and defend their own lives just as we do.
According to The World Peace Diet author Will Tuttle, it's our culturally induced food rituals — eating animals and animal products — that requires us to block from our awareness the underlying causes of the oppression, exploitation and spiritual disconnectedness in our society because it's staring up at us daily from our plates. Tuttle sees we are "in the midst of a profound cultural transformation…where cooperation, freedom, peace, life, and unity will replace competition, separateness, war, exclusion and the idea that might makes right. Food is critical to this birth because our food habits condition our mentality profoundly — and because meals are the primary way our culture replicates and promulgates its value system through us."
Vegans, such as Tuttle, find alternatives for all animal products including eggs, dairy and honey that do not require animal killing, but still require harvesting from animals. Again, the Golden Rule. Imagine the day when a race of superior knowledge and power lands on Earth. Perhaps they would be evolved enough to already be followers of the Golden Rule and teach us to do the same, speeding the evolution of the human race along with their landing. Humanity would thrive in a paradise of peace, justice and beauty.
But consider the alternative that they are more of the same of what we are today and they harvest our eggs, milk and flesh, do research on us, corral and breed us for food in brutal prisons, and hunt and enslave us for their entertainment and service. Hell on Earth for any sentient being.
Indigenous creation stories talk about spirits who volunteered to become animal species in order to serve as food, shelter and tools for the human race, and the indigenous people who respected this pact by not taking more than they needed. Can the sacrifice of life and a balanced give and take between species ever be achieved? Certainly not within the realm of today's animal husbandry culture of exploitation and spiritual disconnection. In light of Gandhi's quote, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated," the human race appears completely depraved.
A plaque from the Boston Vegetarian Society installed at the gravesite of Emily the Cow at the Sacred Cow Animal Rights Memorial in Sherborn, MA, reads: "Out of respect for Emily and all animals, consider refraining from eating meat for the rest of the day, or the rest of your life." Rather than waiting for the heavens to move, perhaps we can all take one small step each day towards greater animal awareness — whether it's refraining from eating meat or performing random acts of animal kindness — which will bring us just a little bit closer to living in peace on a cruelty-free planet.
Carol Bedrosian is the publisher of Spirit of Change, New England's largest holistic magazine. Visit www.spiritofchange.org.