And there is another matter of grave importance that we should not be allowed to lose sight of in this connection. The brutality to the animal creation, which as a weaker creation we should protect and care for, has its corresponding and balancing element in connection with our duty to those who are hired to do our butchery for us. And here let me quote a paragraph from Mr Henry Salt, the well-known English humanitarian thinker and worker :
” But this question of butchery is not merely one of kindness or unkindness to animals, for by the very facts of the case it is a human question of no slight importance, affecting as it does the social and moral welfare of those more immediately concerned in it.
Of all recognized occupations by which, in civilized countries, a livelihood is sought and obtained, the work which is looked upon with the greatest loathing (next to the hangman’s) is that of the butcher,as witness the opprobrious sense which the word ‘butcher’ has acquired.
Owing to the instinctive horror of bloodshed which is characteristic of all normal civilized beings, the trade of doing to death countless numbers of inoffensive and highly organized creatures, amid scenes of indescribable filth and ferocity, is delegated to a pariah class of ‘slaughter-men,’ who are thus themselves made the victims of a grievous social wrong. I ‘m only doing your dirty work ; it’s such as you makes such as us is said to have been the remark of a
Whitechapel butcher to a flesh-eating gentleman who remonstrated with him for his brutality ; and the remark was a perfectly just one. To demand a product which can only be procured at the cost of the intense suffering of the animal, and the deep degradation of the butcher, and by a process which not one flesh-eater in a hundred would himself, under any circumstances, perform, or even witness, is conduct as callous, selfish, and unsocial as could well be imagined. . . .
To have accustomed one’s self to a total disregard for the pleading terror of sensitive animals, and to a murderous use of the knife is a terrible power for society to put into the hands of its lowest and least responsible members.
The blame must ultimately fall on society itself, and not on the individual slaughter-man.”
Chicago has gained, temporarily, at least. the reputation of being the great slaughter-city of the world. Some of Chicago’s first officials in the police department have given us many facts showing the direct connection between the influence of this trade, or rather this “business,” and some of the most shocking crimes that the city has known of late years, for large numbers of these have been perpetrated by men engaged in this business, who have been gradually reaping the deteriorating effects of its influence.
“No one who goes to Chicago,” says a writer in the New- Age, ” should fail to see the shambles. They are the most wicked things in creation ; they are sickening beyond description. The men in them are more brutes than the animals they slaughter.
Missions and institutes have been built in respectable parts of the cities from the profits, and the employees themselves have been left to go straight down to the devil. … It is the duty of everyone interested in social questions, of everyone whose demands necessitate this kind of labour, to wade through this filth to see those poor wretches at work.”
One who visited one of the Kansas city packing-houses, where many thousands of animals are killed daily, and where some thousands of men and boys are employed, writes as follows :—
” Inside the vast slaughter-house it looked like a battle-field—the floors were crimson ; the men were deep-dyed from head to foot. It was a sickening spectacle.
There the cattle were driven into pens, scores at a time, and the echo of the pole-axes was heard like the riveting of plates in a ship-building yard.
Then the gate fronts were raised, and the kicking animals were shot on to the floor, to be seized by the hoofs by chains, and hoisted to the ceiling, and sent flying on their way to rows of men, who waited with knives, and skinned and quartered and washed them.”
In the light of the foregoing facts, and in the light of many more that might be presented, we can readily see that each one who aids in creating the demand for flesh foods is to a greater or less extent, not indirectly but directly, responsible for the degrading and dehumanizing influences at work in the lives of many thousands of their fellow-men. We are our brother's keeper whenever it comes to a matter that we are personally involved in, and there are responsibilities that we cannot shift after we are once made acquainted with the facts pertaining to them.
May I present here a few additional thoughts along this line, given utterance to by that very clear-thinking woman, Annie Besant:
“We may adopt a bloodless diet to purify the body, or in order that we may have a body that will be less an obstacle to intellectual and moral growth ; and such reasons as these justify the practice, and no man or woman need be ashamed to confess them.
But still deeper and more attractive than such an object is our principle our recognition of the unity of life in all that is around us, and that we are but parts of that one universal life. When we recognize that unity of all living things, then at once arises the question:
- How can we support this life of ours with least injury to the lives around us ?
- How can we prevent our own life adding to the suffering of the world in which we live ?
. . . And at once we begin to see that, in our relations to the animal kingdom, a duty arises which all thoughtful and compassionate minds should recognize — the duty that, because we are stronger in mind than the animals, we are, or ought to be, their guardians and helpers, not their tyrants and of oppressors, and we have no right to cause them suffering and terror merely for the gratification of the palate, merely for an added luxury to our own lives.
"... Thus looking upon the animal kingdom, a sense of duty awakens within us ; we feel that they are not intended simply to be slaves of men's whims, to be victims of his fancies and desires ; they are living creatures, showing forth a Divine life, in lesser measure than ourselves, it may be, but it is the same Divine life that is the heart of their heart, and the soul of their soul.
” The animal evolves under the fostering intelligence of man. The horse, the bullock, the dog, the elephant, any of the creatures that are around us in different lands, all develop a growing intelligence as they come into healthful relations with their elder brethren, men and women.
We find that they answer with love to our love, and also with growing intelligence ; and we begin to realize that it is our duty to train and help that growth by making them co-workers with ourselves, to develop their intelligence by human companionship ; and not to slaughter them and thus make a gulf of blood between them and mankind.
” Surely man should not go through nature leaving behind him a track of destruction, of misery, of hideous injury.
“… So that one standpoint we may take up as Food Reformers is the standpoint of Love, of recognition of our true place in the world. Not only that we may have cleaner materials in our bodies, not only that we may have a better instrument for our minds and souls to work with, but that we may be better channels of Divine Love to the world on every side.
For this reason, fundamentally, I am a vegetarian, and I would not take for myself, needlessly, the life of any sentient creature that lives around me.
“… But no one can eat the flesh of a slaughtered animal without having used the hand of a man as slaughterer.
Suppose that we had to kill for ourselves the creatures whose bodies we would fain have upon our table, is there one woman in a hundred who would go to the slaughter-house to slay the bullock, the calf, the sheep, or the pig ?
Nay, is there one in a hundred who would not shrink from going to see it done, who would not be horrified to stand ankle deep in blood, and see the carcasses lying there just after the animals were slain ? But if we could not do it, nor see it done ;
if we are so refined that we cannot allow close contact between ourselves and the butchers who furnish this food; if we feel that they are so coarsened by their trade that their very bodies are made repulsive by the constant contact of the blood with which they must be continually besmirched ;
if we recognize the physical coarseness which results inevitably from such contact, dare we call ourselves refined
if we purchase our refinement by the brutalization of others and demand that some should be brutal in order that we may eat the results of their brutality ?
We are not free from the brutalizing results of that trade simply because we take no direct part in it.
“… And everyone who eats flesh meat has part in that brutalization ; everyone who uses what they provide is guilty of this degradation of his fellow-men.
“… I ask you to recognize your duty as men and women, who should raise the Race, not degrade it ; who should try to make it divine, not brutal ; who should try to make it pure, not foul ; and therefore, in the name of Human Brotherhood, I appeal to you to leave your own tables free from the stain of blood, and your consciences free from the degradation of your fellow-men.”
If the one who uses pate de foie gras, ortolan, and other abnormally formed things of this type, will look a little into the methods by which they are obtained, with all their agonizing and slowly dying torture attendants, I dare say he will then use them no longer;
he will not, indeed, if there is in him a nature that can truly be described by the word human in distinction from that of brutal. It is our thoughts and our acts, or our complicity in the acts of others, that determine whether at any given time we are nearest akin to the brute or the human.
It happened not long ago, in looking over the advertising pages of one of our great monthly magazines, that my attention was called to a whole-page advertisement of one of Chicago’s packing-houses. In connection with this advertisement numbers of figures were given, among which were the following :—
“Six packing-houses, sixty-five acres of buildings. Handled last year, 1,437,844 cattle, 2,658,951 sheep, 3,928,659 hogs. 18,433 employees.”
Here, then, is a total of a little over 8,000,000 animals slaughtered in a single year by one concern, and when we take into consideration the number of other concerns of similar magnitude, and also the thousands of other slaughter-houses in the various cities and villages throughout the country, we can perhaps form at least some idea of the vast proportions of this traffic in blood.
And when we take into consideration that in this one concern over 18,000 people were employed, we can also form some slight conception of the large number of men, women, and children throughout the country who are brought under the influences which we have been considering.
And then, by a strange coincidence, though the connection is natural, I turned a page or two and my eye fell upon the advertisement, also a full-page advertisement, of a large brewing concern. The advertisement in part ran as follows :—
“When 219 carloads of Beer were shipped to Manila the world wondered. What industry was this that shipped its product by a mile and a half of trains to that remote spot?
‘* Yet that enterprise has been repeated a hundred times over. Wherever civilization has gone Beer has followed. Agencies have for twenty years been established in many of the farthest parts of the earth.
” Beer has been known in South Africa since the white man went there. It is shipped in large quantities to the frigid wilds of Siberia. It is advertised in the quaint newspapers of China and Japan. It is the beer of India, the beverage of the Egyptian and the Turk.
” It is too little to say that the sun never sets on agencies, for it is literally true that it is always noonday at one of them.”
Marvelous indeed is the enterprise of the great nation, so magnificently equipped for carrying, among other things, a flesh and blood, a whisky and beer civilization, which we complacently denominate by the term Christian, to the remotest parts of the earth and to the benighted peoples who stand so in need of these “civilizing” influences;
peoples, moreover, who are so obtuse and so ” stubborn” in the face of their benevolent Anglo-Saxon well-wishers, that many times these civilizing influences can enter only after the blood of numbers of their bravest, most highly educated and patriotic sons has been spilled, through the agency of rifles, bayonets, and Gatling guns.
Sport and War
It does not require any great amount of mental power to be able to trace the direct connection between a spirit of kindness and consideration and care for the animal world and a kindred spirit of kindness, care, and consideration for all of the human kind, as also between this and a tendency to settle differences of opinion, or disputes,
by the thoroughly wise and economical method of conciliation and arbitration in distinction from the thoroughly unwise, expensive, and degrading method of swagger and bravado, which leads so often to a resort to force in the form of individual, or corporate, or national murder.
There is a direct connection between “pig-sticking” and man-bayoneting.
There is a direct connection between the foremost representatives
of a great nation, and a large class that ape and follow them, in shooting hundreds of pheasants or partridges in a single day,
and a spirit of reckless bravado that easily leads the nation into war with another nation
when complications arise, or when, through the agency of superior force, it can gain its ends in appropriating to itself the wealth of the goldfields or the territory of a smaller or weaker people.
Every Living Creature by Ralph W. Trine Published 1899