Careful – your culture might be crazy

Sarah Silverman, a stand-up comic, said something interesting in an HBO Special – that people get used to and support otherwise crazy things and come to think of these things as completely normal.

Culture is a funny thing. We largely believe what our parents and grandparents did and told us to do, and what our community does or tells us is right without questioning it.

Societies are different everywhere yet the people living in them believe, often blindly, that what their society tells them is correct. Someone from one culture would question another’s quickly especially if it didn’t fit well with their own set of beliefs and values.

What Sarah Silverman said made me think of how our culture treats animals.

Farm animals live in abominable conditions today.  Farming has been industrialized to such a state that no single animal can be considered important or worthy of care, dignity and respect. If we were to see how they live (and die), how they are treated day-to-day, I think more people would change the way they eat. But the horrors of this type of farming are kept from us so that we can blindly accept that eating and using animals is normal and many consider it even a necessity.

I was speaking to an open-minded, intelligent person about this very thing and he said, “Well, in order for one to live, another has to die.” I don’t think this is true or necessary at all. Many people live as vegans and have been doing so successfully and healthfully for decades.  

Some people try to be kinder consumers by buying from local farmers where animals are treated more humanely, have a place to roam around, to play and to socialize. I did this as well for some time until I realized that there is nothing humane about killing or using an animal for my eating pleasure. And many so-called ‘free-range’ or humane products on the grocery store shelves are not that at all:

Another thing that perplexes me about Western culture is that we accept that pigs and cows are not deserving of the same consideration and respect as cats and dogs are. What our society calls ‘companion animals’ are not seen as such in other parts of the world and in those countries it is quite commonplace to use dogs and cats the way we use cows and pigs here.  Cats and dogs there are seen as ‘products’ long before they are dead. And their suffering is immense just as is that of cows, pigs and other animals we use here.

In Western culture, we may be appalled by the use of what we call ‘companion animals’ for human consumption or for fur clothing and yet, we treat cows, pigs, and goats this way without thinking about their pain and suffering.

When I started finding information about how animals are treated for human consumerism, and digging further and deeper to get the real story, through volunteering for animal rights organizations, through watching (very disturbing) videos and films, to learning more about the fur trade, my eyes opened.

It’s not for the faint of heart to look, but if we do, we will want to and be able to change things.

Why not open your eyes too?

In the end, it will be for the good of humanity as well.  As Thomas Edison said, “Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”

Start to question yourself, your culture, and the way you do things.

Without asking questions, we all can do crazy things that don’t make any sense but that we think are normal. Just because it has always been done that way doesn’t make it right.

Why differentiate between a cat or dog and a pig or goat? Why should one be loved and the other be on our plate?



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