Once someone asked George Bernard Shaw how it was that he looked so youthful. “I don’t,” Shaw retorted. “I look my age. It is the other people who look older than they are. What can you expect from people who eat corpses?”
“We pray on Sundays that we may have light/To guide our footsteps on the path we tread;/We are sick of war, we don’t want to fight,/And yet we gorge ourselves upon the dead.”
George Bernard Shaw
One farmer says to me, “You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make the bones with”. And so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying himself with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle.
Henry David Thoreau
“Flesh eating is simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act which is contrary to moral feeling: killing. By killing, man suppresses in himself, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity, that of sympathy and pity towards living creatures like himself, and by violating his own feelings becomes cruel.”
People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.
Isaac Bashevis Singer
“For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of mind the first man touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, set forth tables of dead, stale bodies, and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived. How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench?
How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds? It is certainly not lions or wolves that we eat out of self-defense; on the contrary, we ignore these and slaughter harmless, tame creatures without stings or teeth to harm us. For the sake of a little flesh we deprive them of sun, of light, of the duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and being.”
Plutarch in his essay ‘On Eating Flesh’
If you declare that you are naturally designed for such a diet, then first kill for yourself what you want to eat. Do it, however, only through your own resources, unaided by cleaver or cudgel or any kind of ax.”
It is only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation that it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion, and that the sight of its bloody juices and raw horror does not excite intolerable loathing and disgust.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab Notes.
Cruelty to animals is as if man did not love God.”
Cardinal John H. Newman
“Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. To harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.”
A Native American Chief (1854)
Collusion — do you? Do you collude with others? Basically, it’s gossip; but it’s a deeper, more personal level of gossip — much more powerful and damaging. It’s within. It’s all about you — and isn’t it always?
This is a subject I’ve been wanting to discuss ever since reading many personal stories about it online from a woman who started the conversation on her blog. It’s not just women, though, it’s sadly one of the many social behaviors engrained in them from birth.
Jealousy. Talking “behind someone’s back.” Yes, it even happens online. In fact, over the years I’ve seen some of the ugliest behavior toward eachother online. Perhaps it’s the anonymity…how much uglier then is that? Much.
I’ve read it described as a way to distract from your own problems, your own dis-ease, your own “shortcomings.” It’s addictive.
When you “dislike” someone or your perceived characterization of them — why? What do they stir in you? It’s all about you. Good way to distract yourself, I guess. Focus on them. Gossiping/colluding is a grasping for power and control — for hierarchy…A false power, of course.
You are the victim of your own reaction to them.
Much worse, I think, is faking the “niceness.” I mean, sure you should be, “nice”; but, again, it’s only covering up your discomfort with what this person, this situation is bringing you. There is something there, a “lesson” maybe, you need to learn, and covering it with pleasantries serves only to perpetuate it. I guess, maybe this is why I’ve always had trouble with “The Secret” Law-of-attraction thing-a-ma-jiggy (in part, anyway.Too much nonsense swirling around that one). I mean, it sounds all flowery and light, but, it also sounds sort of…disengenuous…? Maybe that’s it. I don’t know; I do get the gist, maybe just not the method. Forcing the niceness is denying your inner lessons, those signals going off — good or bad — that are making you dislike this person you “can’t stand.” Shouldn’t we be facing those instead of feigning? Phony. Phoniness is sometimes blaringly obvious; sometimes not. Sometimes misconstrued; sometimes true.
So colluding with others makes you/us feel better for the moment. It’s like eating that cupcake. Feels good for that brief moment, yes? It’s covering up some awful detox that you don’t want to go through. And so you “feed it” to shut it up, to shut it down. And you have others there to say, “Yes, go ahead. You deserve it! It’s okay. My GAWD it’s just one cupcake!” And my favorite turnabout — “you don’t HAVE TO BE PERFECT” as if that now gives persmission (to basically hurt yourself). And it also is making a judgment about others (those “perfect people” we all hate) , and the person is using this as a manipulative tool, many times because of their insecurity and perceived shortcomings. Surely makes them feel good when you “fail” too…but I’ll not go there for now….
or “Yes, she is soooo annoying.” “He is just rude!” “She just wants attention. Look at her!” “Did you see what he…??!!” “Well, I heard…”
It’s all connected.
What I ask myself when I feel like gossiping is, “What is it about Me that makes me want to make this person look bad to others?” “Why do they ‘get to me'” and why do I let them?” There are many ways and reasons. I’m sure you can think of many.
I think one of the saddest reasons is to do it to make friends. Sounds so silly, but is it not true? A sick way of bonding with your buddies is to get together and gossip. How ugly.
Let’s not discuss anything real; let’s just distract and focus on someone else. Feed that addiction. Judgment. Judging others and by standards we don’t even keep ourselves. Shame, perhaps. So let’s project those “failings” onto others.
And then a disempowering bond begins to tighten between/amongst colluders…you must dislike who I dislike, right? I mean, IF you’re my friend, my “enemies” will be your enemies, you will join in and nod about “that person,” right? Cause if you don’t, you’re sort of…suspect. Maybe you’re not “loyal,” after all. Maybe you’ll be pushed out of the cool-kids group we’ve got going here.
The above is the worst to me. It’s ugly. It’s shameful. That’s why it’s the worst to me, because I’ve done it. I’ve caved to colluding with my best friend for fear…(there’s the first clue: anything based on fear) …fear of not being understood, fear of her reaction if I didn’t… Maybe some of it is normal “growing up ‘stuff'”; but we all know it’s not something many grow out of.
And when you get caught up in it, you’re sort of trapped. You have to follow along, even if you disagree. It’s like a gang. It’s like Sonny and Fredo Corleone (okay, you knew that was coming at some point).
I think the times that have felt the worst and made me feel thoroughly self-convicted have been the times I — whether or not induced by others — have judged someone and was wrong. It is worse, though, when you’ve been colluding with others and gossiping about them, only to discover this person did not deserve it. Actually, no one “deserves it” or we all do. What do you do then? If it was only within yourself, it’s easy to fix, right? Well, not really…But what if you like this person and all your buddies don’t? When you discover you and they are wrong…what do you choose? What have you chosen? Most often, it seems, we choose our “friends.” Isn’t the true power in standing up and saying to the group you don’t agree? Or maybe just stop the colluding. Don’t participate. Yea, that’ll make you popular, right? Brave? Not really; it’s just right. It’s the right thing to do. But, please, let’s not play the martyr role; that’s a whole other drama, though certainly related. Rather than having to “stand up,” why not just NOT participate in the first place?
As they say, get yourself a group of real friends. Good luck. Truly, I believe there are very few people who have more than a few true friends they can be real with and NOT collude. Persons they can tell the truth to, even when it hurts. Persons they can LISTEN to without judgment, without colluding with when they oh-so want to. And when your friend is in pain and grieving and, yes, “trashing” an ex-love or someone who stabbed them in the back (because pain is normal afterall; no, I’m not being contradictory here) when they are in that place, can we just listen? Can we comfort without judging and colluding “to make him/her feel better” because that’s a reason we do it, right? Just be with them. If it means just hugging them in silence, letting them ramble and purge it all out, then isn’t that more of a friend?
And then sometimes, when you don’t “collude” or agree or egg it on, the person in pain — do they feel betrayed? Do they feel you’re not “on their side”? Sometimes, I guess. But, I imagine, when it all calms down, the real friends won’t see it that way. At least, this is what I believe we should strive for amongst ourselves: not to expect our “true friends” to collude with us, because it’s disrespectful to our ‘selves’ and to eachother; and not collude with others when we see it happening (’cause we do see it coming), and just…walk away, don’t participate, don’t nod, don’t agree, don’t “egg it on.” Are you not DIS-empowering your friend by keeping him/her IN that negative space when you do collude and nod and agree? How does this really help them/you/the situation?
Maybe, after the purging, we can look together at how this all happened. “How did you/I get into this mess?!” Let’s talk about THAT. No blame, just truth. Track it down. Let’s get serious about the origins of how it came to be that I/you are in this situation.
Sure, it’s not easy. I know.
And, honestly, in the end, do you ever completely trust these people? These fellow colluders? Is your friendship stronger? Truly, is it?
Have you ever seen when someone does just walk away. You sort of know why, even if they don’t say it. I guess many won’t notice it, or some may see it as “rude”; but I have to tell you, I have the utmost respect for those individuals. It’s not about not taking a stand; that’s another situation; and it’s not about denying or ignoring situations: it’s about NOT colluding and not trashing people, not participating in hurting others with WORDS. Because words are weapons. They are. They just are.
So, again, I ask, “What does this say about me?” Because it is all about “Me.” How can we begin to change this — this collective “colluding” we do in our socializing (because it’s ingrained and EVERYwhere. Do our children have a chance?) enmasse? One person at a time, one day at a time, one situation at a time…right? I guess that’s the only way anything gets done– do it yourself 🙂
Respect your and your fellow beings’ selves. I’d much rather have self respect and the respect of others than have their collusion with my drama.
“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”
Dr. Albert Schweitzer
1875 – 1965
This is my favorite by Schweitzer; it’s not a “poem,” but a story, a true story. No surprise it’s got birds at the center of it 😉 :
“”This was a horrible proposal [that the eight year-old Albert join a friend in killing birds with a sling] . . . but 1 dared not refuse for fear he would laugh at me. So we came to a tree which was still bare, and on which the birds were singing out gaily in the morning, without any fear of us. Then stooping over like an Indian on the hunt, my companion placed a pebble in the leather of his sling and stretched it. Obeying his peremptory glance I did the same, with frightful twinges of conscience, vowing firmly that I would shoot when he did. At that very moment the church bells began to sound, mingling with the song of the birds in the sunshine. It was the warning bell that came a half-hour before the main bell. For me it was a voice from heaven. I threw the sling down, scaring the birds away, so that they were safe from my companion’s sling, and fled home. And ever afterwards when the bells of Holy Week ring out amidst the leafless trees in the sunshine I remember with moving gratitude how they rang into my heart at that time the commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ “
And, one of my all-time, if not favorite children’s poems, which has stayed with me always…I read it over and over as a child, and, as then, I wept as I just read this again:
The Nightengale and the Rose, Oscar Wilde
Another favorite — I first read this as a teen in an antique book…darn if I can’t find that book now! I think of it every year around this holiday season. Was older then, but cried just the same:
The Fir Tree, 1845, Hans Christian Andersen
And speaking of crying, if you ever need a good purging – don’t we all sometimes? — read this and it will stick with you, I can almost guarantee it. My dad even cried when he read this:
They Called Him Rags
They called him Rags, he was just a cur
But twice on the Western Line,
That little old bunch of faithful fur
Had offered his life for mine.
And all he got was bones and bread
And the leaving of soldiers’ grub,
But he’d give his heart for a pat on the head,
A friendly tickle or rub.
And Rags got home with the regiment,
And then, in the breaking away–,
Well, whether they stole him, or whether he went,
I am not prepared to say.
But we mustered out, some to beer and gruel,
And some to sherry and shad,
And I went back to the Sawbones School,
Where I was an undergrad.
One day they took us budding M.D.’s
To one of those institutes
Where they demonstrate every new disease
By means of bisected brutes.
They had one animal tacked and tied
And slit like a full-dressed fish,
With his vitals pumping away inside
As pleasant as one might wish.
I stopped to look like the rest, of course,
And the beast’s eyes leveled mine;
His short tail thumped with a feeble force,
And he uttered a tender whine.
It was Rags, yes, Rags! who was martyred there,
Who was quartered and crucified,
And he whined that whine which is doggish prayer
And he licked my hand–and died.
And I was no better in part nor whole
Than the gang I was found among,
And his innocent blood was on the soul
Which he blessed with his dying tongue.
Well! I’ve seen men go to courageous death
In the air, on sea, on land!
But only a dog would spend his breath
In a kiss for his murderer’s hand.
And if there’s no heaven for love like that,
For such four-legged fealtly–well!
If I have any choice, I tell you flat,
I’ll take my chance in hell.
I began with and will end with Albert Schweitzer — “Prayer For The Animals”
Hear our humble prayer, O God,
For our friends the animals,
Especially for animals who are suffering;
For animals that are over worked,
Underfed, cruelly treated;
For all wistful creatures in captivity
That beat their wings against bars;
For any that are hunted or lost or
Deserted or frightened or hungry;
For all that must be put to death.
We entreat for them all the mercy
And pity, and for those who deal with
Them we ask a heart of compassion
And gentle hands and kindly words.
Make us, ourselves, to be true
Friends to animals and so to share
The blessings of the merciful.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer
I have a childhood favorite story that I cannot recall and it’s been killing me for YEARS trying! It was a small, paper book, actually. The theme was “cleanliness,” I believe…involved a lion and a “messy” girl…something about hosing down the lion/girl, lol. Anyway, I’d LOVE to find that story again. If it rings a bell to anyone, please send me a clue!
Any favorite animal-themed or children’s poems to share?
Or, whenever you need a good ol’ cry…what do you do/think/read?