“You want answers?
"I want the truth!"
“You can’t handle the truth!”
Let’s imagine a perfect world, where all our needs are met, free from inequities and corruption, from suffering and want. A transparent world. An ideal world. A veritable expression of mankind’s noblest nature.
But we know better than to revel too long upon ideals. Life shocks us from such sentiment. From the beginning, we are born into the obscene blinding light of reality. Perversely ironic, our first cries signal our vitality. We learn quickly, by way of life “lessons”, that ideals have an elusive nature, dangling like carrots and brass rings beyond the cusp of grasping. We strive in vain for some tangible gain; but that which is tangible is intangible, and so, once grasped, falls precipitously between our fingers.
Disenchanted by the promise of things, we cast our eyes downwards — the solid earth, rich and repugnant, reflects our shadowy image skulking away from the blinding light of truth that burns within. We can avert our eyes, turn away and forget, but truth, like early morning light, percolates and spreads, and we are exposed by it, or by contrast to it, to live like a bird or live like a bat, to see by light or by the shade of night, the orientation of all things resides within.
What does the treatment of sentient animals – human and non-human – say about our humanity?
To perhaps elucidate this ontological question, Daniel Imhoff, in his beautifully written essay, CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, quotes Gandhi, “The measure of a society can be how well its people treat its animals.”
But the staggering pace of global population growth, coupled with the world’s increased appetite for animal food products of all kinds, and the industrialization of agriculture in a free market, espouses a corporate-driven factory framework of mass-produced livestock increasingly dominated by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and intensive livestock operations (ILOs in Canada).
“In a CAFO, animals are concentrated in unnaturally high stocking rates by the thousands or tens of thousands and under unnatural conditions, often unable to breathe fresh air, see the light of day, walk outside, peck at plants or insects, scratch the earth, or eat a blade of grass. They are fed a high-calorie grain-based diet (sometimes including reclaimed animal manure, ground-up fish, or recycled animal parts) designed to maximize growth and weight gain in the shortest amount of time.” (Imhoff)
The economic objectives of corporate agribusiness, an industry controlled by dominant multinationals, endorse unethical farming practices and often act with impunity. Never before in history has domesticated livestock been as cruelly confined or slaughtered in such massive quantities. (Imhoff)
This leads me back to my former question: What does the treatment of sentient animals – human and non-human – say about our humanity?
David Imhoff explores this line of inquiry further,
“Clearly, the ways in which we produce our food define us as a culture and as human beings. The subject forces us to ask big questions: How did we arrive at this place where the very foundation of human society—secure and sustainable food production—has become so far removed from caring farmers and the cycles of nature? What are our ethical responsibilities as eaters, citizens, and producers in reforming a food production system that is so clearly in need of change? ”
Food for thought. And while I continue to examine the food on my plate, the stuff in my head, I encourage you to watch the video and “meet your meat”, lest you shall be shocked by the obscene blinding light of truth.