The circus is in town. It was here last year at this time. I happened to be going back to the apartment on a break and saw the elephants walking down the street.
I took a picture (for this post) and then I had to get away from there. Quickly. The abuse of circus elephants has been well documented. You need only google that subject and a wealth of information will pop up. It makes me sick at heart. I never was a big fan of the circus, even as a child, but I certainly am not one now. Seeing these magnificent creatures being paraded down the street, away from their natural habitat, knowing what has been done to some of them, doesn’t bring me any joy.
If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you have a good idea about my feelings on the subject of animal rights. I’m a vegetarian. I don’t eat meat, fowl or seafood. I first became a vegetarian as a way to support my brother as he chose a macrobiotic diet to fight the cancer that was invading his blood and bones. In the mid-eighties, I stopped eating red meat. I occasionally had chicken, turkey and seafood. But eventually, I developed a strong moral sense that, for me, eating any animal was wrong. I believe strongly in trusting my heart and my conscience. Those two always-truthful guides have told me that this is the right path. For me. There are many loved ones and friends in my life who don’t agree with me, who follow another path. That’s okay. I respect their right to their own journey. I work hard at quietly living my life as a vegetarian. If asked, I will explain the reasons for my beliefs. And I never apologize for them.
Here’s my truth: I don’t believe I am superior to any animal, any insect, any being. We are equal. In fact, in view of the horrors man has perpetrated, I would go so far as to say animals are a step or two above us. Animals have feelings, emotions and feel pain. It’s been proven. Though some people choose to take the Biblical words about man having dominion over animals to mean that we can shoot and eat them, I take those words to mean we are entrusted with their nurturing and care. We are here to help them, not abuse or kill them. Nor can I imagine raising an animal, nurturing it, even naming it and then killing it for food, especially in this 21st century when we have so many other sources for food.
I’m not always perfect. I make mistakes. I have more to learn. But I do my best. I’m phasing out my leather shoes. I no longer buy leather purses. I’m trying to live mindfully. It’s a continual challenge, but it’s a cause I believe in with all my heart and mind.
If I’m reading a decorating magazine or looking at a blog and I see an animal head mounted on the wall that’s considered a design element, I have to close my eyes and move on. Same thing with cowhide rugs or animal skins of any kind. It seems barbaric to me – like we have reverted back to some other, almost prehistoric time.
I realize that many will disagree with me. However, I have to live my life the way my conscience and soul guide me. And yes, I believe that animals have souls. How can I believe that God created all of this abundant, vibrant, beautiful life in its many forms, yet only gave man a soul? What makes me superior? Nothing.
I’ve heard all the arguments before: if we didn’t hunt deer, they would starve to death, we are humanely thinning the overpopulation of animals, some people have to hunt to eat, animals don’t have souls, we are going back to the land and raising our own sources of meat, cow hides make pretty rugs, the stuffed animal was already dead, I got the deer head at a flea market.
It doesn’t take much imagination to write a short story where humans are the prey. Where we are trying to live peacefully, are bothering no one, yet live in fear of being hunted. In fact, many have been written already. Some would argue that it happens every day in real life. It happened to a former student of mine who was peacefully walking down a street and killed in a drive-by shooting. The murderers were driving around, looking for prey. They were hunting. I will never get over it. When this tragedy happens to a fellow human, we are outraged, rightfully so. For me, the outrage is just as powerful and deeply felt when it happens to an animal.
Who speaks for them? We have to.
This is one of those times, my friends, that I feel compelled to write. Where, over the course of the last 24 hours, I haven’t been able to think of much else. When that happens, I have to write a post. My intention is not to preach – I really dislike preachy posts. My intention is simply to share my heart with you. You read a lot about my life here; I share so much with you. Not sharing this very, very important part of who I am with you seems less than truthful and I believe in being honest. I may lose readers over this post. I hope that isn’t the case. I hope you can respect my very heartfelt feelings on this subject. But, in the end, if I do, so be it.
You are welcome to share your thoughts, as always, but please be respectful. I say that because, though I know almost all of my readers are indeed respectful, I have been attacked before because of my beliefs – attacked in a very mean-spirited way. I assume you know that you can’t change my mind on this one. And I’m not trying to change yours. I’m simply sharing my own personal thoughts and beliefs on a subject matter that is very important to me.
Writing with love for all,