What of compassion?

"You find out something important about a person when you see how they treat those who are weaker than them. But you find out most about a person when you see how they treat those who have absolutely no power; those who are helpless....the most obvious candidates for this status are animals." —from The Philosopher and the Wolf by Mark Rowlands

What does it say about our species that we subject helpless creatures to short miserable lives that end in brutal deaths so that we might enjoy the taste of milk, cheese, eggs, and meat? If we do this to them for so small a reward, then what might we do to one another for a much greater reward—if we thought we could get away with it?


Christy said...

It is terrible. We definitely need to pay attention to how we treat all animals, no matter their size or species.

Strayer said...

I've argued with those who believe in God, but believe they can do what they want to animals and that their suffering means nothing. I tell them, as God is to us, we are to the animals. I don't believe that, but it is a valid arguement for those who do believe in a god and still practise cruelty to animals.

If one believes god, a higher species, loves and watches over humans a lower species, then what might that god think of humans who treat animals as badly as humans do. I believe it would be the defining test, for those who purport to serve any god. How we treat our equals, family and friends means nothing by comparison. It is how we behave when no one is around and to things smaller and weaker or vastly outgunned.

I can't even watch such videos, Snow. There's an equally horrid one of pigs, being thrown down ramps. One of cows still twitching, eyes wild, while hooked and hung to the butcher conveyor line. Aliens looking in would think us a very violent, bloodthirsty and barbaric species no doubt. Unless they were even worse, that is.

Elisabeth said...

This is terrible, Snow. It makes me feel positively ill, such inhumane cruelty.

I couldn't bear to watch it all. How much people much switch off to be able to do these things.

I'm so sorry to hear. Hopefully the investigation has led to the facility's closure.

kylie said...

are you vegetarian or vegan?

it is my belief that no reasonably compassionate person could condone the mistreatment of animals and i would hope that Christians would be consistently kind unfortunately though, what happens in the farm and the abbatoir and in transport are so distant that we can all avoid thinking about it

Reuben said...

"If we do this to them for so small a reward, then what might we do to one another when the reward is a million times greater—if we thought we could get away with it?"

Well, I suppose that if I could gain a reward that is worth one million times the value I attach to a diet regularly including meat and dairy products and get away with whatever actions were necessary to achieve said reward, I would do anything, as would you and your readers.

Lorraina said...

OMG i knew it would be bad but i had to know. It was worse than i thought; i'm bawling my eyes out but i'm glad i watched it.

I want to say i'll never eat another animal product but don't know if i can really ever accomplish that, and sadly realistically know probably not.
But i will for sure cut down!

Thank you for this Snow. This video should be required viewing to high school students so they'll learn to be compassionate to all animals and to never partake of any treatment of any living thing in such a despicable way.

Angela said...

The small thing I do is buy our eggs from the farmer next door whose chickens run around freely on his land, have a cock to chase them, eat grass and earthworms and can bathe in the sand. I wish all chickens could live like that. Do you know Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish author? She wrote a book called My Cows want to have fun, too. But it did not change a thing.
I wonder what will...

About the other book - yes, it was me who had mentioned it to you. Born to Witness. A great book I think!
I wish you a lot of laughter and no pain, Snow. Maybe it won`t help a bit if I send you my wishes, but let me do it anyway!

Zuzana said...

This clip was so disturbing I could make myself watch only half a minute of it.
Could not agree with you more on every account...

Mim said...

I too try to buy from local more compassionate farms. That said, getting killed is probably not compassionate at all! "you had a great life, mr. beef steer - now I'm gonna end it".

But I've tried being vegetarian and it didn't work for me.

But - as humans with money and knowledge - the fact that this horror can happen really is NOT good.

ellen abbott said...

I didn't watch it. I don't think it's bad to eat animals. This is a closed system and what we eat is each other. What is bad about it is the way in which we go about it, the cruelty involved. the problem which leads to this cruelty is that there are too many people on this planet. Certainly, we would all eat less meat if we had to go out and kill it ourselves. I don't hunt and used to be against hunting. But at least these people take responsibility for the meat they eat unlike the rest of us who give tacit approval to the cruelty involved in being able to buy the meat at the store. I get my eggs from my sister who has a dozen or so hens. I would like to buy my meat from a socially conscious provider but in truth, I can't afford it. It's like being between a rock and a hard spot.

kj said...

snow, i watched most of it, though i didn't want to. i knew it was important to witness and i thank you.

the older i get the kinder i become. i don't understand the treachery and cruelty either. i don't understand why after centuries we haven't evolved higher.

i can't let my myself get immobilized by suffering because i am privy to the suffering of children and animals and wounded people quite a bit in my work. i don't want to lose my ability to handle that suffering, to carry it even for someone else sometimes.

you are a good guy snow. i hope you know i know you are.


Marion said...

And what of the hundreds of thousands of aborted babies? People seem to be more concerned with cows and chickens than they do with the sanctity of human life. It worries me about the state of our culture and where we're headed.

Myrna R. said...

Snow, thanks for raising awareness on this topic. It's so sad. I've read a lot on the mistreatment of animals, it led me to stop eating meat. But, I need to do more.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Anything weaker or more submissive than a lot of humans is in for the worst treatment that humans can devise. A quick, sane kill is too expensive, when ongoing cruelty is cheaper and provides proof of "man's dominion".

The same can be said for companion animals that suffer repeatedly at the hands of their "owners"...another way of saying the animals "GOD" that it looks up to for kindness and love.

Man: "Formed in HIS image" What an advertisement!

Snowbrush said...

Marion said: "People seem to be more concerned with cows and chickens than they do with the sanctity of human life."

I don't know if it holds for you, but your comment brought it up, so please don't take my words personally. It's a common belief among Christians that efforts to insure that animals are treated humanely should end until all humans have heard the gospel and had their basic needs met. This, perhaps, is why I know of NO Christian churches that do anything whatsoever for the welfare of animals or the environment--this and the fact that they view the world as cursed and therefore of little or no value. If you take this view to its logical conclusion, all animal shelters, all spay and neuter clinics, all humane societies, all environmental organizations, and all wildlife protection groups would close shop. If this should happen, I can easily picture groups of dedicated Christians protesting in front of an abortion clinic while emaciated mange-ridden dogs are run over by cars twenty feet away. Meanwhile, there is a cock-fighting pit down the street and a dogfighting ring in the next block. But, no one pays any attention to these things because, after all, they are too busy worrying about the sanctity of human life. A great part of my bitterness toward Christianity is due to the fact that the churches really and truly don't care about anything other than (a) enlarging their sanctuaries, adding "family centers," gyms, etc. (b) preaching the gospel to everyone in the world, and (c) running soup kitchens and homeless shelters. I cannot help but think that they realize that there will NEVER come a day when all humans have what they need, and this means that there will likewise NEVER come a day when they deem it appropriate to help animals. I cannot believe, therefore, that their objection is made in good faith or that they care anything whatsoever about the rights or the welfare of animals. If I am wrong, please correct me.

Snowbrush said...

Kylie said: "are you vegetarian or vegan?"

I was hoping no one would ask, but since you did, I feel honor bound to answer, having posted on animal rights. I am a guilt-ridden piscatorian. When I became a vegetarian in rural Mississippi in 1982 or '83, I was literally the only vegetarian I had ever known. Since i was the cook for Peggy and me, my refusal to cook meat posed a problem, but since she wasn't terribly attached to meat anyway, she soon got used to it, although she would order meat or chicken when we went out (she never orders meat anymore and rarely does she order chicken). In the winter of 1987, I got the flu, and it didn't go away. I kept craving fish, so I finally gave in and went back to eating fish (which I loved), thinking it might help. I don't know it if did or not since I also took other measures to restore my health. I still don't eat meat or fowl, but I do eat fish, cheese, eggs, etc. although I feel horrible about it. I think I'm reaching the point at which I simply must do something different. However, I'm still the chief cook around here, and Peggy LOVES dairy products, and a lot of dishes that call for eggs simply don't turn out right with substitute eggs. So, I'm in a dilemma. One thing I do to assuage my conscience is to buy happy chicken eggs (i.e. eggs from chickens that are allowed to run around). However, this isn't a great solution for various reasons, but it's what I'm doing. As for fish, Peggy doesn't much care for fish, but I still eat it because it's one of my favorite dishes, and because I get something from it that, I truly believe, makes me feel better than if I don't eat it. I do buy ocean going fish instead of farm-raised because doing so seems at least a tad more humane. I also avoid endangered species--yellow fin tuna is getting that way. If you call me a hypocrite, I will have to admit that you are correct.

Snowbrush said...

Ellen said: " the problem which leads to this cruelty is that there are too many people on this planet."

I think that the cruelty inherent to factory farming is caused by the fact that kindness costs more, although I will admit that, if everyone bought--for example--eggs from humanely treated chickens, the amount of land needed to grow them would be phenomenal. This is what I meant when I said that buying happy chicken eggs isn't a really great solution--this and the fact that the baby roosters are killed. What this means is that, ultimately, we have to decide how much cruelty we are willing to be a party to. My own thought is that, to live in accord with my sense of compassion, I can, at the very least, be a party to no more cruelty than is completely unavoidable in order to consume products that are essential to my health. To do anything less would be an indulgence, and I am currently indulging.

Ellen said: "I don't think it's bad to eat animals. This is a closed system and what we eat is each other."

I don' know what this means, Ellen. You say that we eat each other, yet here in the U.S., we refrain from eating dogs, cats, horses, goats, llamas, chimpanzees, and rodents easily enough, so why should living in a "closed system" prevent us from avoiding the meat of other animals?

Snowbrush said...

Mim said: "But I've tried being vegetarian and it didn't work for me."

I'm just curious, Mim, as to what it was about vegetarianism that didn't work for you. I mentioned in my response to Kylie that I eat fish because I think I feel better when I do so. However, I honestly can't say if this is true or not. After all, it's very easy to experience that which I expect to experience.

Strayer said...

I think hunting is far more humane than eating meat from factory farms.

In regard to respecting life, how respectful is it of life, in many countries, where children are born to starve and suffer, because birth control is not available or practised. In these countres, there may be too many people and no resources for them to feed themselves, too much corruption and lots of disease.

I also do not understand the sanctity of life response because in my experience, most Christians are active supporters/defenders of war, and violent defense of territory and torture of prisoners. I speak only of Christians I know, not in general. I am unable to synchronize Christian teachings and enthusiasm for guns and war or cruelty to animals. Is Christianity only practical in some circumstances and in others, must its principles be tossed to the wind for reality (i.e. war)?

In short, I believe everything is connected, and that how we treat animals filters up to affect how we react to and treat other human beings and behave in general.

Snowbrush said...

Strayer, I too have observed that conservative Christians are more hawkish than secular liberals, which is somewhat ironic since the teachings of Jesus don't leave any room for war, and are even ambivalent about self-defense (in one place, he said to turn the other cheek, and in another, he said, if necessary, to sell everything you own to buy a sword).

Also, in my experience, liberals are more likely to support abortion, support euthanasia, and oppose capital punishment. Conservative Christians oppose abortion because they consider it murder, but they support capital punishment because it has a Biblical basis. I'll just point out that neither abortion nor birth control are mentioned in the Bible, yet abortion is widely and fervently opposed by Christians whereas birth control is opposed by many Christians, at least in theory, although I don't know what they do in their private lives. God did kill a man for "spilling his seed," but I don't think the man had a woman with him, so this would imply that he was masturbating rather than using birth control. You might conclude from this that Christians are less likely to masturbate, but I don't know of any studies to verify this. My own guess is that, since Christians are under more pressure to suppress their sexual urges--prior to marriage anyway and, in some cases, after marriage--that they might very well be so sexually frustrated that they masturbate more, but I have no data to prove it.

Diana said...

Humans are brutalized everyday in worse ways than this. I am sorry for the chickens. I am sorry for the people. Got any ideas on how to change the world Snow?
Nobody promised us a rose garden. And I am still eating eggs. Bacon too.
And there will still be rape and murder. I think you already know this so is this just for shock value or what?
Love Di ♥

Strayer said...

The abortion thing comes up here, with me, in regard to cats. Many people here are very Christian and their abortion beliefs extend to cats.

However, these same people often do not want the cat, and want someone else to take in the pregnant cat, and care for the kittens born, taking on all costs. Or, they want to let their cat have kittens, then have someone else pay the costs for those kittens, who, unless fixed, produce even more kittens. The consequences are dead kittens either way. On the one hand, they're fetuses killed before ever seeing the light of day and often are not formed enough to be considered kittens. Kittens being born in this cat overloaded world mean other kittens and cats die.

So, the cat anti abortionists are a strange crowd, to me, who knows the consequences of too many cats being born very well, the death, misery and suffering, (and the cost to others and to taxpayers) that results. I tell these folks the truth: if you have beliefs, you also need to pay for the consequences of those beliefs in money and labor.

Found a pregnant stray and you don't want her aborted? Then take her in yourself and get the kittens fixed before you adopt them out. Also understand, because those kittens are born, you're killing alive kittens and cats, waiting for homes, who won't get them, because of the excess, and will be killed.

The same principles apply to the human world.

Snowbrush said...

Diana said: "is this just for shock value or what?"

Interesting theory. Actually, Diana, I believe we should make an effort to reduce the amount of suffering in the world. As you pointed out, horrible things will always happen, but somehow the fact that we can't eliminate all suffering has led you to be callous even toward the suffering that we could eliminate if we were willing to make the effort.

Strayer said: "The abortion thing comes up here, with me, in regard to cats. Many people here are very Christian and their abortion beliefs extend to cats."

Goodness, if the sanctity of life argument applies to animal fetuses, then I should think it would apply to grown-up animals too--except for the murderers, of course. I wonder if such people are also opposed to the artificial insemination of bulls and to genetic research on other farm animals. As you know, baby dairy bulls and baby hatchery roosters are slaughtered after they are born, which amounts to extremely late term abortions, so I should hope that, in consistency with their ethical values, they would refuse to eat eggs and meat. All this said, I honestly wonder if (a) these people have the IQs of a snake in winter, or (b) they are pulling your leg.

kylie said...

call you a hypocrite? no, my dear, i am just relieved that someone else lives with the contradiction of loving their animal products and wanting the animals not to suffer

Val said...

hi snowbrush - angela sent me here, and after a quick look (am on borrowed internet time at the moment) i can see i need to download and read this thoroughly. from what i can see i am with you totally and i like that quote; sorry i couldnt watch the video - same reason as above (actually maybe i am not sorry)
anyhow excuse the brevity but i will be back!

Gaston Studio said...

It's so disgusting what those people do in order to make more money and believe me, money is what it's all about to them. They simply don't care and that tells me they don't have any heart.

We try to buy only free range poultry and grass fed beef. Am seriously thinking of becoming a vegetarian!

ellen abbott said...

We don't eat those things because we are not hungry enough. Plenty of people do eat those animals because they are hungry enough. What I mean by a closed system is that there is no manna from heaven. Everything eats. Bugs eat plants and refuse, plants eat dirt, small animals eat plants and bugs, bigger animals eat smaller animals and we eat anything we want. Just because we don't want to eat certain things in this country does not mean that we won't.

I agree that everyone of us should do all they can to reduce the suffering in this world. It's in our own best interest.

rhymeswithplague said...

Many are called, but few are chosen. (Snow left a comment on my blog soliciting my thoughts regarding his "last two posts"). There is too much here to respond to when all the comments are considered,, but I will try to make a valiant effort without being verbose or overly pontificating. 8>)

I decided not to watch the video because I knew what would be in it and I have both a weak stomach and a weak heart. I am an animal lover, as long as that animal is not trying to do harm to me. We fool ourselves in modern times by having others do the killing of food animals for us. But I have not yet become a vegetarian (I probably should). It may be because I also have a weak brain.

That "spilling the seed" guy was Onan, hence the word onanism to mean masturbation, but Onan's real sin was disobedience. Er and Onan were brothers, the sons of Judah. The culture of the time stated that if a man died without offspring, his brother was to "go in unto" the widow and marry her, raising up "seed for his brother." Onan refused to do that in Genesis 38: "And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground; lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also."

I don't know what that has to do with the inhumane slaughter of animals raised for food, except that the lesson to be learned is obviously that it is not smart to displease the LORD.

Also, that passage probably had the salutary effect of discouraging, not encouraging, masturbation, which is only tangentially related to the point of the story.

I guess it should be mentioned that at first, according to the Bible, only plants were given for people to eat. It was only after Noah and the flood that animals were okayed for consumption as well. That's according to the Bible. As my mother used to say, "Vas you dere, Charlie?"

Sorry, Snow. I know it's inadequate, but it's the best I can do. On to the next post.

Deathus said...

Come on people, go vegan! Nice posts.

Robyn said...

I really like what you are sharing here on your blog.
best wishes for good health and well being