I have fond memories of those two weeks in Ireland in May. We hiked around the Ring of Beara, over hills and above all over meadows, saw many sheep with their babies, but also cows, also with their families. They were together and stayed that way. Nobody tore them apart. They grazed peacefully, eyeing us with a mixture of curiosity and timidity. They seemed used to humans. But above all, they had a life, at least as much as is possible for a so-called livestock in our society. Sure, they’re slaughtered, too, but best of all, given the circumstances, we’re still living in a society where the majority thinks eating meat is essential. And the sweater made of sheep’s wool.
But then the reality on my own doorstep catches up with me again. I’m thinking of you, you little piglet, you still can’t cuddle with your mother, play with her, who won’t build you a nest because she’s locked in a body-tight cage. I’m so sorry you still have to lie in it, you dear, gentle, wonderful creature – and there’s nothing I can do about it. And I ask myself, does nobody see that? Is it really that easy to accept this torture? How can we manage to treat you like this without immediately saying I can’t take it any longer. I’ll open all the cages now and set you free. It remains a pious dream, because where should you go?
I’m remembering that you can still have your testicles ripped out while you’re fully conscious. And I want to go there, steal the knife, beg, let them alone, they don’t even get old enough to reach sexual maturity. Why do you have to do this to them on top of all the torture, the grinding of their teeth, the docking of their tails? Why does cheap pork matter so much more than their welfare?
Well-being, this is just the beginning of your martyrdom. Penned in, crammed on hard concrete floors, on top of your own feces, you must languish for the rest of your short life, these few months. And you remain friendly and good-natured. If someone comes to you in the bay, a person like that, who also torments, you run there happily and curiously, as if you wouldn’t give up hope that you can still go out, don’t give up, until the last day. And I’d like to give you all a life, a pig life of digging in the dirt and wallowing in the mud and running around and having fun. But I can not. I sit there helplessly and can’t do anything but watch as your life is destroyed like this from day one. I’d love to help you, but I can’t, because it’s legal to massacre you, but it’s illegal to give you a life. As if that were so much to ask. But it is, because even the tiniest bit of improvement in this unliving situation meets with the most violent resistance.
That’s exactly how I think of the cows, kidnapped, exploited, massacred – and yet they allow themselves to be led dutifully and obediently, stay where people put them, let what is done to them happen. I hear them scream when their babies are taken from them, but they let it happen. They might buck a little when you haul them onto the van, but maybe, just maybe, it’s going to a better place. I know there is no good place for you in this world. Death is salvation from perpetual torment. And I’m sitting here too and can’t do anything for you, nothing. I feel so helpless. You nudge me when tears run down my cheeks because it hurts so much to sit there, see, experience, and yet not be able to change anything.
I see you strapped into small cages, prepared for the agonizing trials that will be done to you. All utterly pointless, as if those who enjoy it enjoy seeing the pain and suffering or simply have the power to do with others what they want. Not the tiniest bit of physical integrity is granted to you. But they don’t make themselves guilty, I do when I open the cage and get you out of this man-made hell on earth.
Billions every year, victims of human greed and the delusion of being allowed to dominate and oppress everyone. So many who are active perpetrators. So many who simply let the perpetrators do their thing, even defend them. And so, few who see and feel the pain and suffering. And yet I am guilty, in all my helplessness. We will never be able to make amends for what we do to you, every single day, and yet you are ready to live, just to live, if you are given the chance.
And I wish I could live to see the day when everyone is allowed to live, free and undisturbed, dear, wonderful fellow creatures.