Absence of Malice
Rebuilding on Sand
I am constantly astonished, not to say irritated, at the way bad arguments keep coming back, no matter how often they are refuted. More than 200 years after the English philosopher and theologian William Paley exposed the weakness of the "animals eat other animals, so why shouldn't we eat them?" argument, some [people] still trot out the same old excuse for eating meat.
Paley gave one good reason why the analogy doesn't work: we are omnivores, and can do without meat; those animals that eat meat need to do so to survive. This is certainly true in most cases; a few exceptions may be found, animals that could survive without meat, but eat it occasionally--chimpanzees, for example--but they are scarcely the species we usually find on our dinner tables.
Thinking about those animals which we do eat gives us another reason for rejecting the "animals eat other animals" argument. In most cases, the animals we eat don't eat other animals anyway. All the mammals routinely eaten in the Western world are herbivores: cattle, sheep, pigs, and (in France) horses. Dogs are eaten in parts of Asia, but those who use [the] argument are generally not interested in defending that practice. Chickens and turkeys are largely vegetarian, though they do eat worms and insects if they can get hold of them, which is not very likely in modern factory farms. The only truly carnivorous animals which play a significant role in the standard Western diet are fish.
But there is a third reason why the fact that animals eat other animals cannot serve as an excuse for our eating them. It is a curious fact that those who use the behavior of carnivorous animals as a justification for meat-eating are also invariably the first to insist on the immense gulf that exists between human beings and nonhuman animals. They will claim reason, self-awareness, language, autonomy and a moral sense for our own species, and deny it to all other animals, who, they say, act on the basis of rigid instinct alone. Now I don't really believe that this gulf is anywhere near as wide as it is often claimed to be. There is a good deal more that is instinctive in human behavior, and a good deal less in the behavior of nonhuman animals, than many suppose. Nevertheless, we must recognize that, as far as we can tell, we are the only species capable of reflecting on the morality of our actions, and acting on a decision made as a result of such reflection. Perhaps chimpanzees or dolphins do this, too, but the evidence is scanty; and when it comes to lions and tigers, there is no evidence at all for moral choices based on reflection.
So why, then, would anyone imagine that because animals eat other animals, we may eat them? When you think about it, the argument is laughable. We have the capacity for reflection and choice, they do not. So we should imitate them? Why on earth should we do that? Are we to look for models of behavior to those who have a more limited understanding than we ourselves do?
Perhaps the claim is a different one. Perhaps somewhere in the background is lurking that hollow foundation for so many spurious arguments, an appeal to what is "natural." Is the idea that since animals eat other animals, it is natural to eat other animals, and so we may do the same?
This is a strange argument, for why should we imagine that our nature is more like that of the carnivorous tiger than the vegetarian gorilla, or the virtually vegetarian chimpanzee? But quite apart from this objection, we should be wary of appeals to "nature" in ethical arguments. I am as keen on "natural foods" as anyone. By that, I mean those foods which have not been refined, flavored, colored or otherwise transformed by methods which ingeniously remove all their flavor, texture and food value. But while nature may often "know best," we must use our own judgment in deciding when to follow nature. We have the capacity to reason about what it is best to do. We should use the capacities we have (if you are really keen on appeals to "nature," you could say that it is natural for us to do so).
"An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind"
There is yet another way to take the "animals eat other animals" argument. It is perhaps not one about a model of behavior to follow, but about what animals are entitled to, or deserve, if they behave in a certain way. But this line of thought is no better than any of the others. Even with adults, we no longer follow the rule of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." Think how much worse it would be to apply such a rule to small children who seriously injure or even kill other children, because they do not understand the significance of what they are doing. That is exactly how bad it is to apply the rule to nonhuman animals, who also do not understand the significance of what they are doing.
Wake Up and Smell the Truth
All of these arguments get used, quite frequently, to defend the practice of eating meat. What are we to conclude about such a smorgasbord of bad arguments? I think there is a lesson to be learned from a great American thinker who, in one of his weaker moments, used the argument we have been discussing.
For some years, Benjamin Franklin was a vegetarian because of his ethical concern about the treatment of animals. In his Autobiography, he describes how he reverted to the more conventional diet. He tells us that he was watching some friends fishing, and noticed that some of the fish they caught had other fish in their stomachs. He therefore thought to himself: "If you eat one another, I don't see why we may not eat you." Deep down, however, Franklin was too intelligent to be truly convinced by this argument, for he admits that he reached this conclusion only after the fish was in the frying pan and began to smell "admirably well." He adds that one of the advantages of being a "reasonable creature" is that one can find a reason for whatever one wants to do.
That is the real problem, isn't it? Those who assert that it is not wrong to eat animals because animals eat other animals are not really looking for a sound argument that will justify meat eating. If they were, they would have abandoned this argument long ago, for whichever way you twist it, it remains woefully inadequate. What they are looking for is an excuse--something that they can say to put a veneer of respectability on a practice that--because it involves the suffering and slaughter of billions of sentient creatures merely for, as Paley said, "our pleasure and convenience"--really cannot be given any ethical justification at all. It is the smell of frying fish, or the grilling cow, or the roasting pig--or often just the force of habit, or the fear of appearing to be "odd"--that drives people to mouth such spurious arguments.
What a pity we do not yet live in a society which relishes the taste of freshly-made tofu above that of fish or chicken, and in which it is those who continue to eat the flesh of dead animals who are thought "odd," or worse. Then the bad arguments might finally cease to be heard.
Reprinted from the Feb. 1989 issue of The Animals' Voice Magazine www.animalsvoice.com
and the Summer 1989 issue of The Friendly Vegetarian
Fat in the Fire
ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, and Tyson Foods Inc., the world's biggest meat producer, will joint efforts in developing diesel fuel from animal fat. Half of Tyson's annual 2.3 billion pounds of animal fat is expected to be used. To read the full article please visit www.charlotteobserver.com/122/story/88145.html
Animal agriculture produces massive amounts of animal waste that pollute our land, water, and atmosphere, hastening global warming. One fifth of the fossil fuels used in the US go into raising animals for food. For these firms to join in addressing the "tip of the iceberg" while ignoring the animal suffering and environmental destruction of animal agriculture is to deceive the consumer. To cite the homely image attributed to a Navajo, it cuts one end off the blanket and sews it on the other end to make the blanket longer.
--Contributed by Lorena Mucke
Another Agribusiness Giant to Give Up Crates for Pregnant Pigs
Cargill Inc., agribusiness company based in Wayzata, Minnesota, recently announced in a recent letter to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that they plan to phase out gestational crates for pigs. These crates, approximately two feet by seven feet, do not allow the pregnant sows to turn around, and cause intense stress and suffering to them. Instead, Cargill plans to move to "group sow housing" completely. To read the full article please visit www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/ content/article/2007/04/12/AR2007041201672.html.
--Contributed by Lorena Mucke
"Where animals are concerned, there is no practice or industry so low that someone, somewhere, cannot produce a high-sounding reason for it. . . . . [F]actory-farm corporations like Smithfield Foods, ConAgra, and Tyson Foods still cling to countrified brand names for their labels--Clear Run Farms, Murphy Family Farms, Happy Valley--to convince us and no doubt themselves, too, that they are engaged in something essential, wholesome, and honorable. Yet when corporate farmers need barbed wire around their Family Farms and Happy Valleys and laws to prohibit outsiders from taking photographs . . . something is amiss . . . ."
Now, imagine that at every meal you have another person at your table. . . . . imagine that the guest at your table is another species that helped bring you food. Ask how her life is. The cow’s answer mu is quite instructive. In Buddhism it means that we are living under incorrect assumptions by thinking our lives are separate from any being, human or non-. If you don’t understand animal-speak, research how that animal lived and died before parts of [her] came to be your dinner. . . .
--Lora Kim Joyner
Contributed by Marian Hussenbux
"When I get to the Pearly Gates (if I ever do), all the dogs I've saved will come running out to meet me."
--Mary Jo "Mag" Keown, 1964
Book Review: For the Prevention of Cruelty
Diane L. Beers, For the Prevention of Cruelty: The History and Legacy of Animal Rights Activism in the United States. Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2006. xvi+312 pages. $19.95 softcover.
This valuable work is a long-overdue history of organized humanitarianism toward animals in the United States. It covers the years from 1866, when the first such organization, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was chartered, up to 1975, the year of publication of Peter Singer's seminal Animal Liberation, which brought the movement to a new level. During this century and more, the cause achieved some notable successes, such as the considerable reduction of “blood sports” and in the use of bird feathers in women's hats, though results were more mixed in respect to slaughterhouses and laboratories. Technological change virtually eliminated another major area of initial activism, the abuseive treatment of urban workhorses.
Despite extensive and useful documentation (over 100 pages of notes and index), Beers' book is highly readable. More significantly, it is not just a chronicle of names and dates, but a fine piece of historical scholarship which places the movement in the context of a changing society, and lifts out the important issues which have disquieted both the movement and its critics. Internally, once the ASPCA set the pace a sometimes bewildering congeries of organizations concerned with animal issues emerged, sometimes allowing for special focus on particular matters, sometimes dividing energies and dissipating them in internal conflicts. The basic problem was always, as it still is, between the welfarist and “rights” approaches, that is, between those who essentially accepted traditional uses of animals but were concerned their welfare be monitored, and those who insisted that the intrinsic rights of animals be recognized. (The more radical third approach of today, liberationism, appeared as a major force with Singer's book in 1975.) The reader will appreciate the complexity and development of this debate far better after perusing For the Prevention of Cruelty.
Two parallel intellectual and social forces, Darwinism and Progressivism, had significant interactions with animal rights. The idea of natural evolution helped insofar as it showed the close kinship of humans and animals, and so enhanced empathy, but it also enhanced the prestige of science with its animal laboratories – Charles Darwin himself, personally both a great lover of animals and passionate believer in science, agonized over this issue all his life. The Progressive movement, the late nineteenth and early twentieth drive for reform in multiple areas – women's rights, fair labor conditions, political democracy, universal education, and much else – naturally often included animal rights in its agenda, but was likewise bedeviled by the way “modern” science and medicine fitted no less naturally into its worldview and mystique, especially when justified by the pernicious ideas of Social Darwinism.
Beers rightly gives a fair hearing to critics of the animal rights movement. Three charges in particular stand out: that it was elitist, essentially an upper and middle class preoccupation, little concerned with the necessary work, way of life, or even survival of the vast working classes, then mainly farmers and immigrant urban slum-dwellers; that it was dominated by women, then easily characterized as “hysterical,” guided mostly by emotion and sentimentality; and that it was anti-science, wanting to put a clamp on advances now dramatically improving the lives and lifespans of millions. In short, animal rightists were myopic and misanthropic, more concerned with a dog than a sick child.
Diane Beers responds by arguing that, although the movement may have had an upper-class and female base, this was simply because they were the people who had the money and leisure for this work, as for many other worthy causes. (Interestingly, today there seem to be more animal activists with an early history of farm life than one would expect from urban populations.) As for science, after 1945 and Hiroshima that endeavor, while still certainly important, lost something of its aura of moral purity, which subtly changed the debate. Beers also points out that animal activists, far from being indifferent to human sufferings, were often involved in campaigns to prevent cruelty to humans as well.
Anyone concerned with animal issues will profit greatly from reading For the Prevention of Cruelty. She or he will be inspired by the example of pioneers in the movement, will understand more profoundly the complex issues involved, will have new words with which to answer critics, and will by gratified to see how far the movement has come, even though new concerns keep emerging. Diane Beers is to be commended on this very important study.
Book Review: If Only They Could Talk
If Only They Could Talk: The Miracles of Spring Farm. By Bonnie James Reynolds and Dawn E. Hayman. NY: Pocket Books, 2005. 302 pages, ppb.
The book begins with the heartbreaking narrative of a dreadful fire (caused by an electric power surge) that destroyed the central building of Spring Farm, a nonprofit animal sanctuary in upstate New York, on All Hallows’ Eve, 1993. About two dozen beloved animals--cats, dogs, parakeets--died in that inferno, each of them a cherished and unique individual, a bringer of joy and wisdom. Most of them passed on relatively peacefully and painlessly, in their sleep, from smoke inhalation. The one exception was a dog named Zoe, who died in fear and pain. But even Zoe’s story has a happy ending. The authors claim that she afterwards sent a reassuring message from the Afterlife, including this: “You shouldn’t feel bad. I was out of my head anyway, and I’m perfectly okay now.”
Yes, the authors hold that they--especially Dawn Hayman--frequently send and receive telepathic messages to and from the animals they have rescued, even those who have passed away. Many people embrace a worldview that leads them to reject this material out of hand. In fact, however, there is independent evidence that such communication does happen. In any case, it is worthwhile to give the authors the benefit of the doubt; there are, after all, probably many things in heaven and earth that do not fit into the most capacious worldview.
There is even less reason to doubt another main claim of the book, namely that the authors have been able to bring back to health severely injured and ill animals by means of faith healing, including animals whose chances of recovery had been estimated by veterinarians at between 3% and zero. Faith healing and healing by group prayer have been shown to be effective with both humans and other animals according to a number of controlled studies.
Spring Farm became an animal sanctuary originally because Bonnie Reynolds kept acquiring horses and ponies until she realized “that one could have important and satisfactory relationships with horses which had nothing . . . to do with using them or riding them. That a rich life could result from regarding horses, and all animals, simply as friends with a right to . . . just live.” (87) The truth of this assertion is very clear in the case of the Halloween fire. The wisest, mentally strongest horses took over the evacuation of the stables, and did a much better job of it than the frantic humans were doing. The horse-leaders made it their responsibility to protect from danger the smaller and weaker horses and ponies, including the lame, the halt and the blind. Thanks to these good and wise animals--and perhaps, as the authors hold, to spirit guardians as well--there were no equine deaths or injuries that sad night, and tranquility reigned over panic.
Near the end of the book (286-90) there is an account of one amazing animal who survived the fire in which he was believed to have perished. I will not spoil the story by giving the details. The authors maintain that other animals were reincarnated and thus returned to the farm. In fact there is much reincarnation in the book: e.g. a cow returned as a horse; an owl and a human architect reincarnated as cats. The animals who did not survive and were not reincarnated became angels or benevolent spirits who now watch over and protect Spring Farm from their existence in the Spirit realm.
My repeated personal experience is that telepathy between humans and animals is real. I hold, as do other members of the church to which I belong, is that animals survive death; they, no less than ourselves, are Spirit beings created for eternal joy. I have experienced frequent communication with animal friends for over a dozen years.
William James declares that we need not refuse belief until an idea is indisputably proven. We do well to be cautious, but if a concept we favor is supported by some evidence, we have the right to believe. This book can expand our mental world as well as our hearts.
Vegan Seafood Salad
1 ½ cups TVP granules
1 -1 ½ cups boiling water
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp. kelp powder
1 T. dulse flakes
½-¾ tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
2 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ lb. mixed salad greens
lemon wedges, for garnish
In medium size bowl, stir together TVP, olive oil, kelp, dulse, salt, pepper, and Bragg’s Aminos. Stir in boiling water and mix well. Once TVP has absorbed the moisture add the tomatoes, cucumber, garlic and parsley. Toss well to mix. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve over a bed of greens. Drizzle with additional olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
This is refreshing way to enjoy TVP (texturized vegetable protein) as a delightful seafood. It is easy to prepare, and leftovers are just as good or maybe even better the next day.
Torta Cioccolata (Chocolate Cake)
makes one 13 x 9 rectangular cake or two 8 inch round cakes
2 cups organic unbleached flour
¼ cup organic cocoa
1 cup evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
½ cup Earth Balance Buttery Substitute, stick, at room temperature
1 ½ cups vanilla flavor soy milk
2 tsp. raspberry vinegar
½ tsp. organic almond extract or 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
Preheat oven 350° F. Prepare cake pan(s) by spraying with non stick cooking spray and flour (or grease pan(s) with Earth Balance, then dust with flour).
In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients together using a wire whisk. Add Earth Balance and ½ cup soy milk, using an electric mixer; beat well until blended. Add remaining 1 cup soy milk, 2 tsp. raspberry vinegar, and flavoring extract; beat for 2 minutes. Pour into 13 x 9 inch cake pan or divide evenly between two round cake pans. Bake 30 - 40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on racks. Remove from cake pans. Frost when completely cool.
This is a smooth and delicious chocolate cake. Cardamom gives it a very special flavor. The cake is moist enough that it may be dusted with organic confectioner’s sugar and served. It is also good with fresh fruit. The possibilities are endless.
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
1 pkg “good ground” (veggie or Mexican-flavored) by Yves, or 1 cup of other TVP
1 cup corn
1 cup frozen string beans
½-1 onion (to taste)
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 15-oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce or paste
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili power
Saute onion and pepper in olive oil. Then add all other ingredients and sauté.
Mashed potato topping
5 red or white rose potatoes
Peel and slice.
Put in boiling salted water (add garlic, if desired), cover, and boil (or steam) for 15-20 minutes.
Test potatoes. When done, drain well. Add vegan" butter", soymilk, and whip. Add white pepper and sea salt.
Put above veggie ground mixture into a casserole dish and cover artfully with potatoes. Brush with melted “butter”. Put in oven at 350 degrees until top looks a bit toasty and filling is bubbling a bit up the sides..
Note: You can experiment with different quantities of the various ingredients. You can make the mashed potatoes your favorite way. Oven time will depend on whether you are putting warm ingredients right in the oven or whether you are taking a pre-made pie out of the fridge to heat up. This has become a big hit with both vegans and non-vegans. I usually make 2 or 3 of these pies at one time, and they all get eaten. One pie serves about 5 people (everybody will want seconds).
Note: Though this dish can hadly be improved upon, folks who like to "gild the lily" can top with flaked "Follow Your Heart" vegan cheddar-style cheeze about fifteen minutes before baking is complete.--GFE
The Rude Awakening
Somebody once said, "There are some things more painful than the truth--but I can't think of any of them." My rude awakening began with my introduction to the world of animal abuse.
About three years ago, I was watching some segments of the television series Nova, on scientific research. The purpose of these shows was to inform the viewer about the wonders of modern science. At first I was wholly absorbed in the thrill of discovery--the satisfaction of curiosity. I ignored the faint stirrings of discomfort I felt when I saw how animals were being used. But as I watched more and more shows, and many reruns, what I assume was my natural compassion gradually pushed its way to the surface of my consciousness and I began to focus on what was being done to the animals rather than on the specious commentary of the scientists.
In retrospect, what shocks me now is how successfully I had been desensitized. The more I watched, the more strongly convinced I became that what I was witnessing was cruelty of the first order and, furthermore, that it was totally unjustified. I also knew that I wanted to do something to stop it.
It was several months later that I chanced upon the University of Victoria Animal Rights Society. And I must confess that the concept of "animal rights" jarred on me. It sounded too radical, too extreme, I thought. However, through the information I received from the Society, through books, pamphlets, photographs and film, I soon came to realize that what I had observed on Nova was barely the tip of the iceberg. I was deeply shocked to discover the immense scope of our abuse of animals on a vast, institutionalized scale.
Not only did I discover that vivisection is much more brutal and much more widely practiced than I could ever have imagined, but I was also confronted with the reality of factory farming--the source of those neat little cellophane packages of meat I had been picking up in the supermarket for years! And then there is the myriad of other abuses which go on under such euphemisms as sport, entertainment, cosmetic testing and wildlife management. Becoming aware of the horrible suffering of the animals was certainly painful enough in itself, but what really shook me to the core was recognizing and acknowledging my complicity in it.
Thus rudely awakened, I had the distinct impression that I had, indeed, been sleepwalking through my life until this point. I felt morally compelled to become an animal rights advocate, and the first step was to become a vegetarian. . . .
The Animal Rights movement represents a call to end ALL oppression of the weak by the strong.
I would like to end by sharing with you a quotation which sums up my philosophy concerning animals. It is taken from The Outermost House by Henry Beston:
We need another and a wiser and, perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees, thereby, a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.
They are not our brethren, they are not our underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
Reprinted from the Spring 1987 newsletter of the Vancouver Island Vegetarian Association (Permission not yet procured because their website is down) and the Spring 1989 issue of The Friendly Vegetarian
Pioneer: Cesar Estrada Chavez, 1927-1993
was born March 31, 1927 near Yuma, Arizona, the second of the six children of Juana and Librado Chavez. He was named after his grandfather Cesario, who had escaped from slavery on a Mexican ranch and homesteaded in Arizona in the 1880s. Juana was one of the most important influences in Cesar's early life, showing and teaching her children that violence and hatred were wrong.
When Cesar was born the family owned a ranch and a store, living in an apartment above the latter.
Later, in the depths of the Depression, their small adobe house and land were swindled from them by dishonest Anglos, including the lawyer whom Librado hired to help him get his property back, an injustice that had a deep impact on Cesar. The homeless family went to California to seek migrant farm work.
Cesar also had a bitter experience in school, or rather schools; because the family moved so frequently, he attended no fewer than 37 schools before finally finishing grade school at age 15. He recalled being hit with a ruler for speaking Spanish (his only language); in racially integrated schools he endured racist remarks which made him feel like "a monkey in a cage." At that time Cesar felt that school had nothing to do with the experience of migrant farm workers. But in later years he came to value learning very highly, and the walls of his office were lined with hundreds of volumes on philosophy, economics, biography, unions, and the like.
Because his father had been injured and was unable to work, Cesar never went to high school but worked in the fields full time. Two years later, in 1944, he enlisted in the Navy (where he suffered further prejudice) and participated in WWII. In 1948 he married Helen Favela, whom her granddaughter describes as a truly wonderful person. They were to become the parents of eight children.
Cesar had ample experience of the suffering of farm laborers: grinding labor, often in a stooping position; suffocating heat; impossibly low wages; being out of control of one's life and that of one's family. (As a farm girl working in the fields in the summer, I had a taste of this bitter fruit, and can only imagine what it is like to see no escape from it.) Cesar and his family further encountered soul-killing contempt and the grave dangers of the poisons slathered on the fields.
His strong sense of justice and dignity, and his mother's teachings of the ultimacy of nonviolent love, would not allow him to accept the idea that he and his people must be permanently trapped in such misery. He found kindred spirits with whom to discuss solutions: Fr. Donald McDonnell, Fred Ross, Dolores Huerta. He studied the lives and teachings of Francis of Assisi and Gandhi; he informed himself about the power of unions. After a period of work in the 1950s in Fred Ross and Saul Alinsky's Community Service Organization, in 1962 he joined with Dolores Huerta to form the National Farm Workers Association, later the United Farm Workers (UFW). Progress was slow at first, with much resistance from growers, including threats of violence, apathy from the public, and noncooperation from fellow workers caught in anxiety. Under Cesar's inspired leadership, and the use of nonviolent tactics such as the table-grape boycott and the 340-mile march from Delano to Sacramento, the movement gained in power. Like Gandhi, from time to time Cesar employed fasts. "The fast is . . . a heartfelt prayer for purification and strengthening [for myself and my colleagues]. . . . an act of penance for those in positions of moral authority, and for all men and women . . . who know that they could and should do more. The fast is finally a declaration of noncooperation with supermarkets who . . . profit from California table grapes. . . . [T]he plague of pesticides on our land and our food . . . . threatens to choke out the life of our people and also the life system that supports us all. The solution to this deadly crisis will not be found in the arrogance of the powerful, but in solidarity with the weak and helpless. . . . Together, all things are possible."
In April of 1993 Cesar participated in defending the UFW from a lawsuit by giant California vegetable producer Bruce Church, Inc. for their loss of millions of dollars during the lettuce boycott of the 1980s. Cesar testified for many hours on April 23, but did not feel ill except for a sense of weakness. The next morning he was found dead, a book in his hand, a peaceful smile on his face.
Cesar's lifelong work on behalf of oppressed human beings is well known, with several states celebrating his birthday as a holiday, but his love for and defense of animals receives little notice; most biographies of him do not even mention this issue. Recently I was able to interview his granddaughter, Christine Chavez, who carries on his legacy on behalf both of farm workers and of animals. She told me that it was his study of Gandhi in the 1960s that convinced Cesar to adopt a vegetarian diet based on compassion. Another source (cited in Wikipedia) quotes him as saying "It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings." No doubt there is truth to both statements. Cesar was in fact a strict vegan, rejecting also the wearing of leather and wool. He was willing to speak up at dinners in which others were eating flesh (not easy to do, as readers of PT well know), to point out to them the suffering of animals which lay, invisible, behind their meal. Christine also mentioned her grandfather's awareness of the links between the exploitation of animals and of farm workers; for example, in one instance undocumented workers were threatened with deportation if they reported animal abuse at a farm.
In 1992 Cesar received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the organization In Defense of Animals. In his remarks he said "We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to help people understand that the animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves . . . We know we cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them. . . in the name of science, ... in the name of sport . . . and in the name of food." He also declared that "Kindness and compassion towards all living beings is a mark of a civilized society. Racism, economic deprival, . . . bullfighting and rodeos are all cut from the same defective fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well ourselves."
--Gracia Fay Ellwood
Derived from Christine Chavez and from Wikipedia and other online sources
Prière pour aller au paradis avec les ânes
Lorsqu'il faudra aller vers vous, ô mon Dieu, faites
que ce soit par un jour où la campagne en fête
poudroiera. Je désire, ainsi que je fis ici-bas,
choisir un chemin pour aller, comme il me plaira,
au Paradis, où sont en plein jour les étoiles.
Je prendrai mon bâton et sur la grand route
j'irai, et je dirai aux ânes, mes amis :
je suis Francis Jammes et je vais au paradis,
car il n'y a pas d'enfer au pays du Bon-Dieu.
Je leur dirai : Venez, doux amis du ciel bleu,
pauvres bêtes chéries qui,
d'un brusque mouvement d'oreille,
chassez les moches plates, les coups et les abeilles...
Que je vous apparaisse au milieu de ces bêtes
Que j'aime tant parce qu'elles baissent la tête
doucement, et s'arrêtent en joignant leurs petits pieds
d'une façon bien douce et qui vous fait pitié.
J'arriverai suivi de leurs milliers d'oreilles,
suivi de ceux qui portèrent au flanc des corbeilles,
de ceux traînant des voitures de saltimbanques
ou des voitures de plumeaux et de fer-blanc,
de ceux qui ont au dos des bidons bossués,
des ânesses pleines comme des outres, aux pas cassés,
de ceux à qui l'on met de petits pantalons
à cause des plaies bleues et suintantes que font
les mouches entêtées qui s'y groupent en rond.
Mon Dieu, faites qu'avec ces ânes je vous vienne.
Faites que, dans la paix, des anges nous conduisent
vers des ruisseaux touffus où tremblent des cerises,
lisses comme la chair qui rit des jeunes filles,
et faites que, penché dans ce séjour des âmes,
sur vos divines eaux je sois pareil aux ânes
qui mireront leur humble et douce pauvreté
à la limpidité de l'amour éternel.
--Francis Jammes, 1868-1938
Prayer to Go to Paradise With the Asses
O God, when You send for me, let it be
Upon some festal day of dusty roads,
I wish as I did ever here-below
By any road that pleases me, to go
To Paradise, where stars shine all day long.
Taking my stick out on the great highway,
To my dear friends the asses I shall say:
I am Francis Jammes going to Paradise,
For there is no hell where the Lord God dwells.
Come with me, my sweet friends of azure skies
You poor, dear beasts who whisk off with your ears
Mosquitoes, peevish blows, and buzzing bees . . .
Let me appear before You with these beasts,
Whom I so love because they bow their head
Sweetly, and halting join their little feet
So gently that it makes you pity them.
Let me come followed by their million ears,
By those that carried panniers on their flanks,
And those that dragged the cars of acrobats,
Those that had battered can upon their backs,
She-asses limping, full as leather-bottles,
And those too that they breech* because of blue
And oozing wounds round which the stubborn flies
Gather in swarms. God, let me come to You
With all these asses into Paradise.
Let angels lead us where your rivers soothe
Their tufted banks, and cherries tremble, smooth
As is the laughing flesh of tender maids.
And let me, where Your perfect peace pervades,
Be like Your asses, bending down above
The heavenly waters through eternity,
To mirror their sweet, humble poverty
In the clear waters of eternal love.
--Translated by Jethro Bithell
*Richard Wilbur translates this passage " By those tricked out in little pantaloons . . ."
The Peaceable Table is
intended to resume the witness of that excellent vehicle of the Friends
Vegetarian Society of North America, The Friendly
Vegetarian, which appeared quarterly between 1982 and
1995. Following its example, and sometimes borrowing from its
treasures, we publish articles for toe-in-the-water
vegetarians as well as long-term ones, poetry, letters, book
and film reviews, and recipes.
The journal is intended to be
interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are
invited for the next issue. Deadline for the June issue
will be May 28, 2007. Send to email@example.com
or 10 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. We operate primarily
online in order to save trees and labor, but hard copy
is available for interested persons who are not online.
The latter are asked to donate $12 (USD) per year if their means allow. Other
donations to offset the cost of the domain name, server and
advertising notices are welcome.
Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Reviewers: Benjamin Urrutia & Robert Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Angela Suarez
NewsNotes Contributors: Marian Hussenbux & Lorena Mucke
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood