Love Earth, Torture Animals?

R.I.P. Dear Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. Men who spent their lives uncovering and documenting un-sugar-coated truth. Remarkable men. Remarkable lives. Remarkable courage. And inspirations – no matter wherever or whatever kind of Truth there exists in the world. 

Because glossing over or turning away from Facts, does not take them away. 

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Love Earth, but Torture Animals? The irony of “celebrating” Earth Day & torturing for Easter on the same weekend

New York. ‘Good Friday’. 22 April, 2011. One of the strangest contradictions of life is when you have Earth Day and Easter on the same weekend. “Be green”, “Care for our Earth,” “20 ways of ‘eco-living’ to impress your friends,” “Save the polar bears,” “Save our animals from global warming, big bad corporations! – oops, wait a minute! Starbucks goes “green” – while the ‘save the earth’ meeting was being conducted there! Wal-mart goes “green”(my ass!)! While one was buying that made-in-China pot-roast deep dish!” Slogans, articles and cute animal-faced smiley cartoons and much cheesy marketing that goes on “Earth Day” – that’s today. And in the very next instance be bombarded with more slogans and tips and suggestions telling “20 ways to welcome spring by baking the best new-born lamb for Easter,” “Celebrate Easter weekend with baby lamb, roast chicken, suckling pig,” “The way to your man’s heart this Easter and to get a ring before the Royal Wedding and the cuddliest bunny soft toy is to cook the most delicious baby bunny rabbit in the world, ladies! after of course, you have impressed him with your Green Nature-conscious skills on Earth-Day! Yea!

Ah, the irony! No more words today. Just pictures. And a film I’d been planning to place for a while.  Not to induce guilt. Just to inject Truth. Unfortunate. Objective. Truth – ah sweet, sweet, bitter, brutal Truth. To me, ‘God’ is not in the skies. Truth is ‘God’. Love is ‘God.’ And Reality is Reality. Those soft-toys on the store shelf – bought for giggly-cosmo-obsessed-girlfriends and innocent kids……My words from a poem written years back as a kid : “Soft-toys are subjected to affection, while REAL animals face butcher’s knives.” 

You see, all those pretty smiley, emoticorny escapism, rationalizations, ‘religion’izations will not take away reality, the truth, the way, the unfathomable, cruel, unnecessary, savage, evil, psychopathic way those animals will be treated, will be tortured, will be killed, and areevery single day – all across the world – be they dogs and cats and so many other species in China and elsewhere, or lambs and calves and much more in the West – but tortured, skinned, killed, cut-up, shipped, cooked and then placed under the soft lights of a fancy meal – the ambiance and music ‘wishing away’ the reality of how their life really was led……while that toy filled with fuzz, or at times the furry toy made from the fur of some cat or rabbit skinned alive somewhere in China is handed over as the great gift of ‘love’ to that naive, innocent child – who, if he or she knew how cruel the world is, would perhaps never be able to eat lamb again. Or then be given enough ‘rationalizations’, and ‘desensitizations’ to do so. Or better – told those happy, smiley stories and fairy tales that say that after brutal, bleeding, tortuous death – they – like ‘Him’ – in all their original intact forms will ‘resurrect’ and live happily ever after in a cloudy, pearly Heaven.

Ah – the Truth is so hard to take – fables are made to heal the heart and self-soothe. But alas, Truth remains Truth. Reality – Real. And perhaps only Real, Truthful Love is what is needed more. So Empathy can overcome greed and gluttony. To remember the eyes of an innocent in its last breaths of life. To have enough Love for life to have the courage to say “No – I will not partake in the suffering of sentient beings with advanced nervous systems that feel pain, that feel excruciating physical pain just like you and me, who are tortured in this fashion in reality and then given the ‘glamour shot’ while they lie in cut up little pieces on my plate in that candle-lit table.”

I am not against humane death and a humane free life, but against such unnecessary, unfathomable inhumane cruelty when in our present day and age, and even before, we do have many, many other choices.

I am not against the taste of pleasure , but against this mind-blowing hypocrisy. And I have far greater respect for the hunter who hunts and gathers his own kill with his own bare hands in the wild, than those who tout ‘go green’ cliches while sitting dandily eating the meat from a slaughterhouse.

I am not against the ‘tales’ and stories we say to protect children from harsh reality, but against those consistent ever-present countless immeasurable Lies we hear even adults preach to one another and pretend to believe for self-protection to hide the face of Truth. Or to deny the Truth of their own inner reality that allows and justifies cruelty like this to occur and look the other way with apathy and cowardice.

So I will still stare without taking my eyes away at the 360-degree reality of Truth.

I will still walk that way which is often a road of solitude, but one I have taken many times before, and will never stop from taking again. And I will walk on that road, no matter how few or large its takers.

I will walk on it – if just for my own truth and empathy and nothing else.  No matter how much the ridicule, no matter all the economizations, intellectualizations, rationalizations, confabulations to mock another being.

And I will follow only for that Trinity which to me is real freedom: The simple trinity which needs no book, nor leaders, no tales, nor followers.  Just a long hard look at life, reality, knowledge and the choices we have and the choices we make.

The road, the trinity of:   Truth * Love * Integrity.

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Happy Earth Day! Happy Easter! Whatever those terms mean. I studied in a Catholic Convent – of course I know what those ‘terms’ mean. And yet, they are but words – because true integrity is not in words, but what lies within and is practiced consciously through our actions.  (Though I came from a family of Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and more so – a dad who was a scientist and a mother a philosopher/mathematician, I am a non-believer of any God in the skies.)  

(p.s. I am a vegetarian, not a vegan. I eat eggs from cage-free free-running hens. And if you get a chance, do watch ‘Fast Food Nation’.)

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And the truth of the process of how they end up in that last picture…here. This film. The sad fact of life is that turning your face away will not take truth and reality away, nor the pain of billions of mammals and birds who are treated this way or the heinous crimes and greed of the owners of slaughterhouses and users who support this system:

“Mercy for Animals” – a film. Narrated by James Cromwell. Now watching the truth – that  is having real kindness for our Earth. 

We do have a choice. Yes we do. We do not have to endorse cruelty.

All it needs to make that choice – like all other ethical choices in life is – Love. Truth. Determination. and above all, Integrity.

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Related posts:

1. This too shall pass.

2. Saltationism of Silliness

3. Red December – Part 3

4. Truth or Dare

5. UNFETTERED


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This Too Shall Pass….

Written in Woodstock, NY and Boston, MA. April 12, 2010. Abstract : The good thing about growing up and gaining experience through the years is that when either ecstasies or sorrows and pain get too overwhelming, we have the internal wisdom to know that ‘this too shall pass’ (or ‘gam zeh yaavor’ in the original hebrew)

FROM HIPSTERS TO HIPPIES: For the early part of last week, April 5th to be exact and two days before its record-breaking hottest day, I was in New York City but by mid-week left for a cabin in the Catskill Mountains near Woodstock to wind down. And pretty much lived off the grid till my return back to Boston. I will be writing a new post more on it some day. There are so many thoughts, so many reflections from what I saw in NYC. My hotel window 50 floors above at the Millennium Hilton directly looked over into the World Trade Centre construction site for the new Freedom Tower and adjoining buildings and it was an unbelievable sight – which evoked so many different emotions. The ‘whys’ that arise when you wonder how psychopaths can cause so much destruction knowingly in the name of fundamentalism.  The repercussions that followed with more deaths and more wars in the aftermath. And also, all the questionings that were evoked of injustice and the absence of ethics in certain other parts of the world too in some tribal communities near a bauxite mountain  when I recently heard an extremely heartfelt and tumultuous talk given by architect-turned-writer-turned-social-activist Arundhati Roy at Harvard for her book promotion.

I have seen both parts of those worlds, and many many other parts as well, in depth; in substance; in smells; in sweat; and in their sweetness and  their sadness. And the brutal truth is that in all the wars for religion, resources, ideologies, inequalities the ones who die are mostly the innocent….be it the children in a day-care in building 5 on the WTC site, or the everyday workers,  or the firemen on that fateful day. Or the soldiers and civilians who died during the war that followed. Or the journalists including the one who was beheaded. Or the people in certain unrelated tribal areas who are being killed and bulldozed off through twisted politics of industry and a greed for wealth for forcefully obtaining the raw resources the mountains in their rural land contain. It is always the innocents who suffer and die………

From here..

..and here…

To Here.

But I am here now, and a calm serenity has overcome every conflicted questioning of the early part of last week. I do not know if this is escapism, or treating yourself once in a while to utter, unadulterated calm and peace, but it certainly feels wonderful. And renewing.


lamb and daffodils

RANDOM THOUGHTS THAT PASS ON: The mountain air, far from the madding crowds, does something to clarify the signal to noise ratio in favour of the former. Perhaps somewhere, deep inside, rather than our analysing, questioning minds, our bodies ‘sense’ much better that the simple joys of life often arise from the simplest and most serene of little pleasures – a good cup of tea, a beautiful sunset, a little 400 square foot cabin, the warmth of a fireplace, the smells of the fresh earth of springtime, the chartreuse green of the new leaves, the skipping of a happy baby lamb full of joy to be born. (Just so you know I have never eaten lamb or veal or for that matter any baby animal in my life. There is something too unfair and macabre about that act. I also believe that any person who hugs a newborn lamb, or caresses the soft skin of a gentle calf or watches the toddling steps of a suckling pig will be unable to think of snuffing out its innocent life and letting that life end up as human poop.)

How much do we really need to be happy? How much is too much?  Where do we separate ‘need’ from ‘greed’? Where do you draw the line for personal ethics?

I do not want to end this on a sad note.  A man I had once met who had traveled around the world on returning back home to Canada had rightly observed : ‘We all have the right to feel sad at times, but we do not have the right to feel ungrateful.’ How true! I often wonder how some people squabble and fight over petty seemingly trite problems which seem so trivial in comparison to so many horrific problems and disasters that life could have thrown at us by accident, by luck or worse, through the intended malice of psychopaths – be they in the form of venomous and manipulative men and women, or larger organized death cults and clans. We have to learn to be careful – blindly forgiving psychopathic behaviour in some magical wistfulness of a misplaced naïveté of ‘eternal optimism’ is a sure way to self-immolation. But at the same time, we have to be objective about the degrees of ‘pain’ in the world and where our own ‘problems’ fit within it. Emotions are funny creatures. While poems are written about them, they after all are still a product of our thinking, of our hormones and enzymes and the neurotransmitters in our brains. But an act of consistent wisdom (as any person who laments how much better life can be viewed in 20/20 vision when you look back) would be to not let overwhelming emotions – especially if they are negative– dictate our actions. Actions that arise out of fear, anger, extreme sadness, wrath, malice, hatred, hurt are always counterproductive in the long run. We do not have to turn into consistently logical Mr. Spocks (nor his evil opposite which would be unfeeling empathy-devoid sociopaths) but knowing that overwhelming negative emotions can well become momentary time-bombs is an important step towards growth.

My mother had once written to me in a letter: “Constant pristine permanency is an impossible phenomenon. Happiness consists simply of a collection of sporadic beautiful tangible and intangible moments in life and in their experiences and memories. It is a state of mind and a choice dependent on our internal concept of our present being, not some external future elusive goal.” Or in other words, Happiness (at least if you are in a place or relation where you are not living under constant threats of being shot, killed, hacked or abused) is a state of mind dependent on our ways of perception and self-reflection as well as an acceptance of our present reality and not some ‘goal’ that can be obtained by chasing rainbows. The second method never works in the long term because when those who have that mindset once ‘reach’ something, they raise the bar and are on to chase the next elusive illusion that they think will ‘make’ them happy, and thus become eternal chasers, who miss the flowers to be smelled and noticed in daily life.

The ‘state of happiness’ in any case always evolves, always comes and goes and explodes or recedes through the day and years within a certain continuum or within a stable mid-point of equilibrium if one is mentally  healthy.

In the same token, all negative emotions also pass and it is even more important to remember that; and therefore not hurt others in that moment of wrath, weakness, sadness or anger. Justifying it later through rationalization and excuses does not work. Would the lasher do the same if the recipient of his wrath was standing before him holding a gun? I guess not. Except of course if the lives of his loved ones or children were at stake, he might have braved the gun. So I have observed in life that we (humans) victimize only those who we can. As horrific as it sounds it still is the truth in so many ways be it those civilians who were killed in war in far-off lands,  or the people who were murdered that day in September, abused lovers who receive rage-filled threats and rants in relations, or even those baby animals who are killed and cooked just when they have opened their eyes into life and do not know how cruel the world can be. It is always the innocent who are the real victims.

Like the change of seasons, a healthy mind knows the ephemeral nature of emotions. Some remain steady and stable and this requires practice – in fact it is worth stabilizing our feelings of love, compassion for the truly innocent, our integrity, courage and a quest for peace, truth and practicality without compromising objective ethics. For other feelings, especially the bad ones, it is important to remember that ‘they pass’ and to wait till the heat is over instead of burning those in its vicinity. There are no two ways about it. Like springtime renews the earth each year in northern climates, each season passes in the garden of our thoughts and either scorches or hardens or rather renews and rejuvenates. It is a way of life and the more we fight against the laws of nature, the more we stagnate, caught in the detritus of rotten leaves and cold snowstorms. There are those who cannot neurologically overcome sad and crazy thoughts and they are literally mentally ill, but for those who have the capacity to think, reflect and live in healthy ways, I honestly think it is ignorance, laziness, false pride, or a refusal to self-improve that holds them back from experiencing joy and love in the simplest things life has to offer. Or refuse to welcome ‘Springing’ back to life. And to love.

This is why I like that Hebrew saying : Gam Zeh Ya’avor or This Too Shall Pass. The phrase has featured in the fables of Krishna, of King Solomon and has been used by quite a few including Abraham Lincoln in an 1859 address:

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! – A.L

Gam zeh yaavor. There is so much wisdom packaged in those three little words that even chunky books on psychotherapy and neuroscience aimed towards healing mechanisms in the brain would finally come to similar conclusions as the summary of their research, unless there is irreversible physiological damage. My great-grandfather had found that the Hebrew word for the ‘spring blossom of renewal’ was the same as the Pali (Buddhist) word for ‘the possessor of wise understanding.’ He always believed that it was no coincidence. That the one who has mastered the art of self-renewal and welcomes spring each year (or for that matter each day) of his life in fact understands and possesses true wisdom.

And as I recalled the gigantic construction site back in the crater that once held the twin towers and its surrounding buildings, and the thousands of workers who have found jobs in this economy as they rebuild once again the tall towers and its new gardens, I felt that in many ways that site represents renewal, regrowth and above all,  a most symbolic resilience  of the human spirit. (But then my neurotic mind wonders where the steel for the construction comes from? Could it be from the bauxite ore of a mountain far away – and a string of thoughts about another post germinates….)

So here’s something to celebrate Renewal and Passing. And just to see how great videos CAN still be made without CGI effects, here’s an absolutely brilliant, goofy and incredibly ingenious video made by the alternative rock group OK – go. In many ways, our lives are like dominoes too – one event leads to a chain of others and triggers many more within or without our control over them. We cannot undo the past. Or at times get out of a mess created through our own or someone else’s  accidental or deliberate mistakes. But what we can do is at least to have the wisdom to say ‘This Too Shall Pass.’

Is this a form of escapism? Could it be that confronted by the horrors of the world we fall into some self-preservation  mode and escape into music or ‘escape’ like the hippies in Woodstock or say ‘this too shall pass?’  Or one has to be always angry and angsty  like Arundhati Roy? Where is the middle ground? Where is it? I know where that point of balance and peace  is in my own mind- but I don’t see it out in the world……  And if this is a post on recovery from personal pain and not the pain-in- the-world, then for the former indeed ‘this too shall pass.’ For the  cycle of pain in the world – well, that’s another post. Another day….

Be sure to click on the ‘full screen’ button!

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