The Greatness of a Nation

The sound of the ocean, the silence of a spiderweb casually decked with diamonds of dew, intermittent and perfect, nothing symmetrical, yet the order of things point to beauty without a signpost or trail head.

Thinking about nature and patience. Grounding and animals. House plants and cats, palm trees and oceans. Waiting for inspiration to arrive as if delayed by the fog, my cat keeps me company, reminding me he's been fed but not adored in the last five minutes.

Preoccupied with my thoughts, we hug and purr. Rocking in the chair, scratching the litter off his foot so he doesn't track it around the house or lick it off later. He's okay with my kissing his head until he isn't.

I just stopped reading "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer.

I can't say I finished it. I just couldn't take it anymore. Picking it up to confirm the spelling of his name, and flipping it open, the litany of horror rolls off the page.

If nature and animals and being alive all delicately balance each other, how have we come to such a terrible place?

We got ourselves into this mess one bad decision at a time.

So much changed after the second world war. The industry of death envisioned and created during the war needed a new market and agriculture had plenty of upside.  So we started pumping poison into the earth, air and water to destroy the pests that attacked the plants. Then we started arming the seeds genetically to defend themselves.

Coincidentally those same "killer" seeds can't reproduce, so every year the farmers have to purchase more seed. And should any non- patented seeds cross pollinate in the wind with patented seeds? You'll find yourself in court for stealing.

We brought poison to the altar of productivity and sacrificed our place in the natural order of the world. The greatest hubris of humanity is our insistence that we are the conquerors of all we survey and that mother nature is ultimately destined to be our bitch.

Manipulating the genes of the seeds proved fantastically profitable for the companies that "invented" the seeds and they now own the grain markets. Our government hands them millions of dollars every year in subsidies to poison our food supply, but that's another post.

The supply of food quintupled and poisoned food supplies were cheap.

It was just a logical step to begin "enhancing the productivity" of animals.

Voila. Factory farming.

And animals - breathing, living, creatures of heart, muscle, bone and brains - became "units of production."

We comfort ourselves with the fact that monkeys are omnivores. Even cannibals in the right circumstances. So killing and eating meat isn't the surprise.

There is a context of eating animals, a culture, a history; when access to larger amounts of protein secured health and reflected greater prosperity. While my ancestors grew taller and stronger for raising a pig and eating it, how does that relate to buying bacon from a factory farm with 30,000 hogs on it?

It's the factory part that is horrifying.

The inhumanity of spreadsheets and science that denatures life in the name of profits.

How can I knowingly participate in a market based on the standardization of animal cruelty?

According to Mr. Foer, 99% of animals raised for food are factory creations. Genetic mutants with short, incredibly brutal lives, ending inhumanely at the hands of monkeys who lose their own sanity on the killing floors.

The Von's truck rolls past with pictures of sandwiches on the side. Images from the book flood my mind. How those animals lived and died.

Here's what one of my teachers had to say on the subject.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”   Mahatma Gandhi


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