Rambo the Sheep: My Greatest Teacher
by Kathy Stevens
Rambo the sheep arrived at Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) in January of 2002, one of eighteen animals who'd been confined in a single filthy stall, thrown the occasional moldy bagel by his" owner." We'd won our first cruelty case against her, a notorious hoarder whom the entire region feared for her predilection for lawsuits. From the start, Rambo announced himself. While his cellmate friends--a 2,500 pound Holstein steer, an orphaned calf, a goat and fourteen sheep--initially cowered when we approached, Rambo lowered his head and came at us, driven by testosterone and rage.
Yes, Rambo was angry. Angry and unneutered. The day he was legally surrendered, we scheduled his neutering; unfortunately, his rage remained intact. Whenever we entered his stall, he charged . . . .The ewes were quickly adopted out, and cows Molly and Samson integrated themselves into our herd without incident. Rambo? We couldn't consider adopting him out. We gritted our teeth, protected our legs with plywood cutouts and learned never to turn our backs to him.
After a year without progress, we were deeply discouraged. Consulting sheep breeders exacerbated the situation . . . . One breeder was alarmed that we had Rambo and advised us to put him down for our own safety.
But at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, the mantra "in his own way, at his own pace" describes our healing process. And so we waited, speaking gently to the explosive boy and protecting ourselves from injury.
"What Love Can Do"
In his second year with us, the frequency and intensity of Rambo's outbursts decreased: his great eyes softened. Rambo slowly let go of the behaviors that had protected him and his flock . . .
He first showed his true colors on a cold November night. Before we built our turkey shelter, our two big birds--blind Cliff and his protector Chuck--were taken out each morning to a spacious enclosure
shaded by willow trees. There the two pals would enjoy much that turkeys in the wild enjoy: grass and trees, bugs and grubs, the chance to stretch their legs, to preen and relax. We'd bring them back to their stall in the barn at the end of each day.
One bitter wet evening, my dog Murphy and I rushed to the barn for night check. Rambo lay in the barn aisle just outside his pal Dino's stall (we had abandoned our effort to enclose him in his own space). On this night Rambo stood and looked me straight in the eye, wanting a treat. I obliged with a pear procured from the kitchen, then walked over to Chester to begin my rounds. "Hey, old man," I whispered to the ancient Appaloosa horse, his eyes heavy with sleep. "Hi, goats!" I called softly to Noodles, VanGoat and the rest, who rushed toward me, jumped up, resting their hooves on the sill and reaching out for what awaited them: a carrot, a pear, an apple. Farther down the aisle, Policeman, a thousand-pound pig whose name and size belied his gentle nature, was covered by mounds of soft hay. Only his snout was visible as the mound moved up and down with each breath. And so it went. All was well at CAS. Or so I thought.
As I did each evening, I turned around at the end of the long aisle to call goodnight to my friends. But before the first name left my lips, Rambo charged up to me, stopped dead, looked up with is great yellow eyes and bleated. "Something's wrong," he said. No matter that what he in fact said was "Baaa-hh" . . . his communication was perfectly and instantly clear. It was the first time I'd heard his voice.
"What?" I asked him. "Show me what's wrong."
The proud beast marched half-way down the aisle and made a 90-degree turn into the empty turkey stall.
The turkeys!! In the frenzy of a hectic day, we'd forgotten to bring them in.
Stunned by what I'd witnessed, but concerned about the birds, I thanked our guard sheep and ran out to the turkey yard, accompanied by Rambo and Murphy, Chuck was cowering at one end of their enclosure, his head tucked in a futile effort to stay warm. Cliff was outside their pen, motionless in a shallow puddle.
"Oh, my boy, I am so sorry," I whispered as I approached Cliff. Scooping the animal into my arms, I carried him into his dry, safe space, Rambo at my side the entire time. We repeated the process with Chuck. I toweled off the birds, kissed them on their rubbery heads, checked food and water and closed the door behind me.
It was time to thank Rambo. In the darkened, hushed barn aisle, I sat on my knees and looked deeply into his eyes. "Thank you, Rambo. Thank you for telling me about the turkeys. What a good job you did. . . what a good, good job." I took his face in my hands as teared rolled down my cheeks.
What had just happened? That a sheep was aware that the turkeys were outside was impressive enough. That he figured out how to tell a human blew me away. But most astoundingly, Rambo had just shown concern for two animals of a different species, and had known that I would help them. Rambo, the sheep full of rage, seemed to know the compassionate purpose of Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Rambo had empathy. My head was spinning. Was this possible? I took his face in my hands. "Okay, boy," I whispered, looking into his eyes. "If this is who you are, you've got a big job ahead of you."
In the three years of my graduate school program, I read perhaps a hundred books by noted experts . . . . But somehow, unbelievably, the lesson I'd just received from a sheep surpassed anything I'd read . . . . As brilliant and instructive as their insights were, nothing these thinkers wrote suggested that my core beliefs were based on a false set of assumptions, on naiveté or ignorance. But in a darkened barn on a bitter early winter night, a sheep who finally believed he belonged with us did exactly that.
It's been more than four years since that defining incident . . . . There've been scores more moments. Rambo greets new animals, comforts sick ones . . . . Rambo has herded escaped llamas back to the barn during an early-morning escape, charged around the farm during a violent thunderstorm to check on the animals who live outside, and convinced a profoundly depressed pig to leave his stall and discover the world outside. Yes, this ambassador for a species generally considered only for its meat and wool has, indeed, been my greatest teacher.
"I am so much more than you know," Rambo's actions tell us.
"We all are."
Kathy Stevens is founder and director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, NY and author of Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary, dedicated to Rambo. Additional information at www.casanctuary.org.
The lead picture above is of Rambo. The birds are Chuck (r) and friend Thomasina.
This story is reprinted with permission from Vegetarian Voice, magazine of the North American Vegetarian Society. Their website is www.navs-online.org.
We invite responses to editorials or any other feature of PT for our next issue's letter column: email@example.com.
"Instead, ask the animals, and they will teach you . . . . --Job 12:7
"Blessed are the peace makers: they shall be called the children of God."
--Jesus in Matthew 5:9
To mediate between two warring parties is a good work. But when we find ourselves one of the parties, victims of an unjust attack, to become a peace maker is truly a work of divine Love, Love received and passed on.
What About Soy?
There is so much misinformation about the negatives (or benefits) of soy in a human diet that people get confused and afraid to eat it. John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America and The Food Revolution, looks behind the charges and outlines the main misconceptions about soy. He answers the most common questions regarding its safety with a nuanced "yes." To read the full article see www.vegfamily.com/health/
--Contributed by Lorena Mucke
Good News from Norway
The group Campaign Against the Fur Trade (CAFT), based in Manchester, England, reports that the incriminating film footage they took of fur farms in Norway, aired in a TV documentary, has had a major impact on the cruel trade. There has been a great deal of press coverage, nearly all positive, with many fur farms reported to authorities. A considerable number of them have been closed down or are scheduled to be closed down in January. CAFT has cooperated with the Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals in reporting on the situation. As a result of these exposés, the minister of agriculture has presented a draft for a new Animal Protection Law.
--Contributed by Marian Hussenbux
Hunger Increasing Worldwide
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has issued a warning that another 40 million people have been pushed into hunger this year. What might come as disquieting news for most people is a sad reality for about a billion people going hungry every year. Humanity is faced with a grim scenario unless a radical change takes place. Since the FAO expects that the demand for feed will double by 2050 because of growing meat and dairy consumption, and WWF warns that "two planets" would be required to sustain current lifestyles within a generation, the transition to a plant-based diet seems the most effective way to decrease hunger in the world. To read the full article please visit 24.dk/group/vegetarveganmad/forum/thread/2046292.
--Contributed by Lorena Mucke
Dear Peaceable Friends,
I especially like the last paragraph of your editorial "Wound Round with Mercy." I often feel we are beating our heads against a brick wall - but then some tiny thing occurs and I realise there are wonderful things happening here and everywhere. For example, the children of the "Speak Out for Animals" club in Thorpe House School ( Norwich), led by teacher Sue Cole, are engaged in a campaign for compulsory microchipping of dogs. See www.marcthevet.com/sofa’s-amazing-microchipping-campaign. We in Quaker Concern for Animals shall actively support those kids . . .
Clerk, Quaker Concern for Animals
Dear Peaceable Friends,
Thank you for the December issue of the beautiful Peaceable Table. I especially appreciated Bill Samuel's "Pilgrimage." Dorothy Tucker Samuel's "Pioneeer" story is also very inspiring, for I know most Quakers have not been vegetarian. I'm glad more are now. . . .
The fresh New Year is like the freshness of vegetarianism; it cleanses the heart and soul. 2009 should be the "Year of the Vegetarian," with cooperative organization of vegetarian causes for the sake of our meat-eating society's better health. The spiritual/religious and community benefits of vegetarianism should be stressed, with down-to-earth testimonials to ground such high thinking.
Gerald Niles 122280
Graceville Correctional Facility
5168 Ezell Road
Graceville, FL 32440
Gerald welcomes snail-mail correspondence from fellow vegetarians.
Book Review: Mother Warriors
McCarthy, Jenny. Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds. New York: Dutton Books, 2008. 248 pages. Hardback, $24.95.
Autism is not a subject we would ordinarily deal with in The Peaceable Table, but because there are definite signs that this disorder can often be effectively treated with the help of a casein-free diet, Jenny McCarthy's new book is one we do well to know.
This very informative study is packed with little-known facts about autism. The one I found most striking is that the autism spectrum does not consist entirely of emotional and mental disorders as is usually thought, but often includes physical symptoms. The one most often mentioned in this book is diarrhea, chronic and severe. My first suggestion on hearing of such cases would certainly be to remove cow's milk from the diet of children who suffer from this disorder; from my studies in anthropology I know that most human beings in the world are physically incapable of digesting cow's milk. Indeed, the elimination of dairy products and gluten from the children's diet is the treatment most often recommended in this book. Such action has a great healing effect not only on the digestion, but also on the cognitive abilities of the children..
The book tells the stories of nine children: Evan (Jenny's own son), Maisie (the only girl), Jeff, Jack, Christian, Zach, Ethan (the only one whose story is told by his father), Branson, and Elias. Poor Elias is the only one whose story does not end with a happy report of substantial or total recovery. He tragically passed away 5 months after receiving an excess of vaccinations, "enough shots to kill an elephant" (page 202) - or at least enough to kill him. Elias is the only child mentioned in the book who was not healed by the casein-free, gluten-free diet; he was injured too badly to survive. But Zach, just on the second day of his cow's milk being reduced, began asking questions again and hugging his mother again. Maisie started talking during the first week of her casein-free, gluten-free (GFCF) diet. After two weeks on the GFCF diet, Ethan doubled his speech. By age 6, he was "officially undiagnosed" from autism.
The official position--defended with a ferocity worthy of Dolores Umbridge by establishment authorities such as the American Academy of Pediatrics--no individual pediatricians are named--largely ignores these findings. Indeed, some claim that drinking anything cannot affect the brain!
Personally, I believe that, to coin a phrase, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure, and that all parents should cease and desist from feeding cow's milk to their infants and children before they develop autism (not to mention childhood-onset diabetes). This book should be required reading not only for parents and doctors of autistic children, but for the parents and pediatricians of all children everywhere.
Near the town of Churchill on the shores of Hudson's Bay on the Arctic Ocean, one Winston, a leader of a tribe of Nanooks (better known as polar bears) is upset about the melting of the ice upon which their way of life depends. Winston shows his people a book on the subject that he has written, and organizes them for a peaceful demonstration to convince humans to "burn less gas, make less garbage, and plant more trees."
All are eager to go forward except Winston's wife (regrettably not named - perhaps should have been Clemmie or Tina) who embararasses him by refusing. In a private conference, she agrees to join and support Winston only if he stops burning toxic garbage in his mouth (i.e., smoking that cigar). He reluctantly consents, and when tourists approach in their tundra buggies to eye the bears, they are impressed by the sign-bearing ("Brrr is Best" "Ice is Nice") procession peacefully but forcibly urging humans to recycle, use solar and wind power, and make other ecologically wise choices. Every little action makes a difference--as witnessed by Churchill's switch from a cigar to a stout twig.
Unfortunately, the protesters do not urge or even encourage a vegan diet. Perhaps that would seem rather hypocritical coming from carnivorous creatures such as bears. Humans, however, are different. Veganism is the most important program against global warming that the audience of tourists, as well as the books' readers and their parents, could carry out--and make more than a little difference. The proliferation of farmed animals, especially ruminants, is the major source of human-caused methane, which is many times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. The destruction of green oxygen-producing forests to create grazing lands and soy fields for farmed animals constitutes another global-warming threat.
Mr. Trammell's individualized bears and the slogans on their signs are very appealing, and will no doubt delight the children; their grandparents will be amused by the undisguised allusions to Sir Winston Churchill. Perhaps the book will also serve to introduce child readers to Sir Winston, a brave, staunch, and inspiriting leader who lived to be ninety (he died on my 15th birthday, January 24, 1965) in spite of his bad habits--smoking, drinking, overeating, and outbursts of ill-temper.
The Afterword tells more of the suffering of the Nanooks than the book itself does. Disappearance of ice floes means that some of them are drowning, a thing that could never have happened before the current crisis. Baby bears are dying. The book does not even mention the worst horror: some bears, starving and desperate, have resorted to cannibalism, to eating other bears. These would of course be far too disturbing for a children's book. But one cannot help wishing a 21st-century Jonathan Swift would create an illustrated grown-up book with the undiluted truth.
Despite the unfortunate omission of the vegan solution, I recommend the book for parents and children's libraries. It will arouse the children's interest at an early age in a situation that will increasingly wreck their world if major changes are not made now.
Film Review: Bolt
Bolt. A 2008 Walt Disney animated film. Screenplay by Dan Fogelman and Chris Williams. Directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams. Length: 96 minutes. Voices: John Travolta as Bolt, Miley Cyrus as Penny, Mark Walton as Rhino, Greg Germann as the Agent, Susie Essman as Mittens.
At the start of the film, Bolt is a TV star portraying a dog with super-powers, the faithful protector of (human) action heroine Penny. He really believes he has these powers, and that the show is reality, because he is kept in isolation to extract maximum performance from him. Bolt and Penny are both exploited victims, denied a normal childhood and doghood. They are devoted to each other, but frustrated by being kept apart when the cameras are not rolling. The real villain is not the Evil Scientist caricature in the fantasy-within-a-fantasy, but the agent, who believes that children and animals exist to be exploited, used to gain profit. He does not, of course, realize how evil he is.
The great deception begins to unravel when Bolt, believing that a storyline kidnapping of Penny is real, escapes to rescue her but is accidentally shipped from Hollywood to New York. The desperate dog kidnaps a female cat, Mittens, and forces her to guide him back to Hollywood. Mittens, who has been betrayed and abandoned by her former guardian, has lost all faith
in humans. Cynical and mistrusting, she undeceives Bolt. Fortunately, a third companion joins them: a roly-poly hamster named Rhino in an exercise ball, a Holy Fool if there ever was one. They are seized by Animal Control, but with Rhino's help, Bolt escapes and rescues Mittens from the pound. Even without superpowers, they can run circles around some silly humans. (No pre-eminence of a man above a beast.)
Bolt has lost all he thought was true, but he still has faith in the love of Penny. Soon even that is taken away from him, through a cruel misunderstanding, and he is left in Stygian darkness. Nothing is left but a Descensus in Inferno and a Harrowing of Hell. In the end, Bolt manages to save himself and his friends - Penny, Mittens, and Rhino, from the Darkness - because, as it turns out, he did have a Super-power after all. The greatest and truest power of all: Love.
This movie delivers more, much more, than it promises. It presents itself at first as a lighthearted girl-and-her-dog (or rather dog and his person) fantasy. It is that, indeed, but it is also a marvelous tale of redemption and spiritual healing. Recommended for all ages.
Seitan with Olives and Mushrooms
Serves 3 – 4
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 package West Soy chicken style Seitan, drained and cut into bite size pieces
8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
½ cup pitted black olives, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. dry onion granules
¼ cup dry white wine
½ tsp. sea salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
In medium size skillet, sauté Seitan and mushrooms until mushrooms release their juices. Add olives, garlic, pepper flakes, onion granules and white wine. Sauté over medium - high heat five minutes. Adjust flavor with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Serve over steamed brown rice and wild rice.
-- Angela Suarez
Chocolate Cream Pie
Makes 1 nine inch pie
¼ cup organic fair–trade cocoa powder
¼ cup organic cornstarch
¼ cup organic sugar
¼ tsp. sea salt
⅛ tsp. cardamom
2 ½ cups vanilla flavored soy milk
1 T. Earth Balance spread (vegan butter substitute)
1 prepared graham cracker pie crust, preferably chocolate variety
(For alternative crust, see below.)
In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add soymilk and whisk continually until thickened over medium heat. Pour into a graham cracker pie crust. Refrigerate for 3 – 4 hours. Serve with vegan whipped topping.
-- Angela Suarez
Gluten Free Crust
Makes one 9 inch crust
1 ½ cup walnut pieces
½ cup rice flour (brown or white)
¼ cup chickpea flour
¼ cup Earth Balance buttery spread
¼ cup evaporated cane juice (or organic sugar)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. sea salt
Process all ingredients in food processor. Press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake in a 350° F oven for 10 - 15 minutes. Allow to cool and fill with Chocolate Cream Pie filling.
-- Angela Suarez
8 oz. organic pitted prunes (about 30)
1 cup water
1 scant teas. lemon extract or essence
Put prunes and water in small pan. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes. Add lemon extract, stir, and let cool; juice will thicken slightly. You may find it hard to limit yourself to the number of prunes your body thinks prudent! Keep remaining prunes refrigerated.
This isn't really an original idea--I figured it out from Sunsweet's product--but by doing it yourself you can count on going organic. An unexpected plus for me was learning recently that prunes help stave off signs of aging. Eat prunes, avoid having a prune face . . . .
--Gracia Fay Ellwood
My Pilgrimage: Barbara Booth
Barbara Booth with Hathor, pregnant when adoped in March '08
Animals have always been a big part of my life. My mother raised and showed Persian cats, who had the run of the house; a typical scene was a beautiful cat on the kitchen table keeping us company at mealtime. My father always had one or two dogs. I loved them all.
Very much the daughter of my parents in this regard, at present I have one dog friend, gentle Lady Jane Greyhound, whom I enjoy taking for walks. But my great love is still cats; my husband and I seldom have fewer than eight or nine living with us. From time to time we take in a pregnant stray cat on behalf of "Cats in Need," an organization to which we belong. We oversee the birth of the kittens, and eventually find most of them homes. We even have a ghost cat! One day when my granddaughter Cassie was eight, she noticed a picture of a particularly distinctive calico cat in my living room, and asked me why she hardly ever saw that cat. I told her that was Pandora, who had died years ago, when she (Cassie) was two. Cassie protested that was impossible--she had just seen that cat, and tried to pick her up, the day before! In fact, she had seen Pandora on two successive days.
As a child I was aware that meat came from animals that had been killed, and I hated eating it. However, my mother told me that I would die without it. When I was in junior high I found that this was not the case. My parents opened up their home to a man from India visiting the U.S., sponsored by our (Methodist) church. He stayed about a week with us, and I learned that many Hindus did not eat meat or eggs. They obviously did not die for lack of consuming animals. However, I kept eating meat, because I did not know how else to get protein (familiar story!). Even though the thought of eating animals' body parts was disgusting to me if I let myself look at a hamburger or steak that way, I continued with my carnivorous ways. I have never eaten fish because I saw my father catch them, knock their heads against a rock, & clean them. He took me on at least two fishing trips a year when I was a child. I would not touch a dead fish, let alone eat one.
In 1986 my husband asked me why I ate animals when I proclaimed that I loved them. He was teasing me, but I took him seriously. I stopped eating meat that day & have never (knowingly) eaten any since. For me it was easy to give up meat--in fact a great relief to know I would never again be consuming the corpse of a cow, pig, lamb, or bird. An unexpected health benefit was that my acne disappeared. I had hoped I would get a bit slimmer, but that didn't occur.
If I unintentionally eat food with meat hidden in it, it makes me quite sick. Interestingly, on one occasion when this happened in a restaurant, my friends and I all joined in meditation/prayer for protection, and I did not get sick after all.
More recently, having learned that the dairy industry also involves cruelty to animals, including killing many of their babies, I have given up dairy as well. I like myself better now that I live what I believe in regard to the animals I love.
Pioneer: Brigid Brophy (Lady Levey), 1929-1995
In 1965, the young British novelist and essayist Brigid Brophy, known for her pacifism, feminism, unconventional views on sexuality, and aggressive style, received an invitation from the Sunday Times to write a full-page article on a subject of her choice. She chose to present a defense of animals. As she writes later, in entitling this invited essay "The Rights of Animals" she was alluding to, or rather deliberately extending, the claims made for human beings in Thomas Paine's 1791 book The Rights of Man. (Readers of this column may recall that the first pioneer to take this step was Herman Daggett, who in 1791 gave an address with this same title at what is now Brown University. See PT44.)
Animal defenders often find it effective to begin by appealing to people's sympathies for cats and dogs, and then point out similarities to farmed animals. But Brophy, not one to tread the easy road, started her first essay by forcing her readers to take the viewpoint of fish. She begins "The Rights of Animals" thus:
"Were it announced tomorrow that anyone who fancied it might, without risk of reprisals or recriminations, stand at a fourth-storey window, dangle out of it a length of string with a meal (labelled "Free") on the end, wait till a chance passer-by took a bite and then, having entangled his cheek or gullet on a hook hidden in the food, haul him up to the fourth floor and there batter him to death . . . I do not think there would be many takers.
"Most sane adults would, I imagine, sicken at the mere thought. Yet sane adults do the equivalent to fish every day . . . not in panic . . . or even greed . . . but for amusement. Civilization is not outraged at their behaviour. On the contrary: that a person's hobby is fishing is often read as a guarantee of his sterling and innocent character."
She goes on to list the forms of "unremitting exploitation" of animals by homo sapiens: humans eat them, wear them, "sacrifice" them to Science as was once done to superstition in order to learn the future, hunt them for fun, put them on display in zoo prisons and circuses. "[W]here animals are concerned, humanity seems to have switched off its morals . . . . humans persuade themselves that they have absolute and arbitrary rights . . . . "
Sure that her readers will be distinctly unimpressed, Brophy expects them to adjudge her as "a killjoy," "one having "no grasp on economic realities" "a sentimentalist," "a twee [supersweet] anthropomorphist" who "prefers animals to humans", and "par excellence, . . . a crank."
Taking up these expected accusations one by one, the unladylike Lady Levey answers them with deft rapier-strokes. Her writing is so insightful and scintillating that I am tempted to quote all her answers, but for lack of space I will summarize only two. She accuses those who accuse her of being a sentimentalist, lacking a grasp on economic realities, of themselves being sentimentalists who ignore the huge economic waste of burying instead of eating the bodies of thousands of humans who died of natural causes. Another example: "crank," she points out, usually means "abnormal." Psychotics are abnormal, but then so are geniuses. People who defend the rights of animals are few now, but the rightness of a view is not determined by majority vote. In the ancient world, thinkers who even noticed the immorality of human slavery were almost non-existent. When in the eighteenth and nineteenth century the human conscience overall awoke to the evil nature of slavery, those who defended it came forth with feeble arguments--much the same now being uttered by defenders of factory farms. For example, the battery chicken is kindly being spared inclement weather, just as the childish blacks were kindly spared the harsh responsibilities of freedom. . . .
Despite her voiced anticipation that her readers will scorn her position, Brophy's essay in fact was quite influential; apparently a goodly numer of her readers could enjoy a touché by so clever a dueler. In fact, Richard Ryder asserted that "The Rights of Animals" triggered the present-day animal rights movement in England (though that honor must surely be shared by Ruth Harrison (See PT34), Peter Singer, and Ryder himself).
Brophy's second major essay, "The Darwinist's Dilemma,"was written for a 1977 conference (tellingly entitled The Rights of Animals). Preaching to the choir as it does, this second essay takes an altogether quieter tone, though it is still entertaining. She refers to her newspaper essay as consciously participating in the history of movements toward social justice --for colonized peoples, for slaves, for women, for homosexuals. Justice requires that we work to correct the instinctive bias we each have in our own favor, and act upon our awareness that others feel much as we would when exploited or hurt.
So we have no justification for exploiting others, including animals, just because they do not look like us. But what if the issue is human superiority, not in force, but in compassion? Should we try to benefit another species, even against the will of some individuals? For example, should we try to save a threatened species of predators, knowing that individual prey animals will suffer and die as a result?
She has no satisfactory answer to this "Darwinist's Dilemma." However, she affirms that we who seek justice for animals can agree on the most important things, despite our our philosophical differences. Brophy offers admiring tribute to such as Lady Dowding, who established "Beauty Without Cruelty," and those who go to prison for breaking unjust laws that victimize animals. She suggests that the reasons she herself is not behind bars is mostly cowardice.
Brigid Brophy's life was claimed by multiple sclerosis in 1995.
--Gracia Fay Ellwood
Poetry: Thomas Lux
Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy
by Thomas Lux
For some semitropical reason
when the rains fall
relentlessly they fall
into swimming pools, these otherwise
bright and scary
arachnids. They can swim
a little, but not for long
and they can’t climb the ladder out.
They usually drown—but
if you want their favor,
if you believe there is justice,
a reward for not loving
the death of ugly
and even dangerous (the eel, hog snake,
rats) creatures, if
you believe these things, then
you would leave a lifebuoy
or two in your swimming pool at night.
And in the morning
you would haul ashore
the huddled, hairy survivors
and escort them
back to the bush, and know,
be assured that at least these saved,
as individuals, would not turn up
in your hat, drawer,
or the tangled underworld
of your socks, and that even—
when your belief in justice
merges with your belief in dreams—
they may tell the others
in a sign language
four times as subtle
and complicated as man’s
that you are good,
that you love them,
that you would save them again.
The Peaceable Table is
a project of the Animal Kinship Committee of Orange Grove Friends Meeting, Pasadena, California. It 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, news notes, 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 February issue
will be Jan. 29, 2009. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
or 10 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. We operate primarily
online in order to conserve trees and labor, but hard copy
is available for interested persons who are not online.
The latter are asked, if their funds permit, to donate $12 (USD) per year. Other
donations to offset the cost of the domain name and server are welcome.
Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Reviewers: Benjamin Urrutia & Robert Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Angela Suarez
NewsNotes Editors: Lorena Mucke and Marian Hussenbux
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood