> I grew up in suburban Philadelphia. There was, and still is, a restaurant in the historic section of the the city named “Bookbinders.” It is one of those places that tourists go to eat, but also a place my family and I frequented as well as I was growing up. Although both the food and the service were good, I dreaded dining there because as you were seated you had to pass by a large lobster tank filled with fresh lobsters. It was from that tank that you chose the specific lobster you wanted boiled alive as your entrÃ©e. A friend who knew me well back then said, “Carole, you’re the only person I know who can walk past a tank of lobsters and feel for their confinement.”
My friend was right then and it’s still true today. It’s why I am a vegetarian and also why I cannot read the details of this past Sunday’s recall of 143 million pounds of beef processed and distributed nationally by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company. When I got to the part of the article that began to outline the unashamed cruelty inflicted on the animals I couldn’t go on. It’s also why, today, driving in Center City Philadelphia and seeing a horse and buggy pulling smiling tourists around Constitution Center by a crippled and obviously pained horse, I cried.
I don’t know what it is that makes humankind think it has been given heartless dominion over all other forms of life, but obviously something has. Whether it’s whaling to extinction, slaughtering elephants for their ivory tusks, or effectively torturing laboratory animals in the name of science, we have become arrogant about our relationship with, and responsibility to, all other living aspects of the planet.
We make “progress” at the expense of our own capacity to empathize and sympathize. By so doing, we have over time hardened our hearts and set the stage for an ever descending spiral of indifference to pain and suffering that, perhaps, is not so unrelated to the proliferation of violence we are now experiencing throughout the society at large. Which may, in fact, be the best proof going that what we do to others we ultimately assure we do to ourselves…for there is only One of Us.
Nature is a gift as is Life itself. What we do with each is not only a statement about who we are, but also the way in which Source gets to experience Itself through Us. Do we really want to be the reason that the Beauty which created All That Is comes to know the intentional infliction of pain by one of It’s creations upon another? Is this who we really are?
Coincidentally, I watched a wonderful movie tonight, Kate and Leopold. It’s a romantic comedy with Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman that spans two centuries by finding a portal in time. Leopold is royalty from the 1800’s who accidentally lands in present-day Manhattan. Kate works for an ad agency and enlists Leopold, due to his charm and sincere delivery, to film a commercial for diet margarine. He does so until, on a break from filming, he tastes the product. Repulsed by it’s taste, he refuses to continue filming. Kate, panicked by the potential harm his refusal could do to her career, tries to convince him to just finish what he started. Leopold refuses on the grounds that he finds himself “peddling pond scum to an unsuspecting public.” Kate sees no conflict and Leopold is incredulous that she, knowing the product is awful, would still proceed with trying to convince people to buy it. He is a man who follows his heart regardless of what it costs him. In the end, it is what makes him so irresistible.
Just as Leopold, each of us in our hearts knows that wanton disregard for the feelings and general welfare of living beings, regardless of their positioning on the evolutionary ladder, is wrong. Yet, each day we,just like Kate, ignore the shameful behavior all around us and by so doing, condone it.
I don’t know the particulars of what Hallmark/Westland participated in and I do not need to. I hope they are put out of business, if not by criminal prosecution, then by the refusal of consumers to do business with them.
After all, it is up to each One of Us to stand up for All of Us…and most notably for those who cannot stand for themselves.
P.S. Remember to click here to download my FREE e-book “Too Many Secrets.”