On the widespread victimization of animals for the sake of anachronistic rituals and barbaric traditions
RUTH EISENBUD: AN OPEN LETTER to Religious Leaders of the Judeo-Christian persuasion
IN THE MIDST OF THE CELEBRATION OF EASTER AND PASSOVER, consider the following: The religious holidays of the Judeo-christian, Easter and Passover coincide with each other and with a dramatic increase of animal slaughter. In some religious traditions this would be unimaginable, as inflicting pain, suffering and terror on any living being is viewed as gratuitous violence. It is inconceivable to those who follow the compassionate jain/hindu tradition of India to rejoice in significant religious holidays with violence and the bloodshed of gentle animals who have harmed no one.
Lambs are born in the late winter, by early spring they are slaughtered either for the symbolism of the lamb shank in the Passover ritual or for a sumptuous Easter meal to honor their lord, often called the lamb of God, a prince of peace.
The story of Passsover itself is tinged with the blood of animals. A lamb was killed and its blood was used to mark the doors of the enemy, so that God could smite their first born dead. To this day a lamb shank is included in the Passover ritual. As Christianity speaks of the lamb of God, it slaughters baby sheep in the name of religious celebration. While loving images of shepards protecting their sheep abound in the Bible, it is noteworthy that though the shepard protects their sheep from predators, in the end these sheep are not kept as pets, but protected so that their flesh may be consumed.
Is this a message of compassion?
Cows, pigs, chickens, fish and a myriad of other animals, while they do not have the honorific status of religious symbolism, also fall victim to the self-indulgent violence of the Passover/Easter season. Sumptuous honey baked ham, beef brisket, roast chicken and poached fish are all evidence of the unnecessary carnage which causes pain and suffering to animals. As gratuitous violence is not easily contained the carnage often extends to human on human violence. The internecine fighting between the three religions of the semitic tradition throughout history which is ongoing to the present day, bears witness to the harmful effects of allowable harm and slaughter.
The judeo.christian religions follow the dominion model of animal compassion, which does not acknowledge that the suffering of animals is comparable to human suffering. It is therefore acceptable to harm, mutilate, exploit, ab(use) and slaughter them for human benefit. In a hierarchy which places human life and needs above the right of an animal to exist and remain free from pain and terror, the end result is a system which endorses violence to living beings when it is deemed beneficial.
This inability to empathize and express sympathy for the pain and terror of a fellow living being during slaughter is a serious oversight and ironically has led to increased violence towards humans.
“Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human life”. ~ Albert Schweitzer
As the Pope celebrates the Easter Season at the Vatican, he is forced to defend the terrible record of child abuse within his domain. The ease with which the judeo.christian tradition justifies the taking of animal life is not restricted to non-human animals. Animals and children do not have the skills to defend thenselves from stronger adults who use force against them, hence silencing the child victims of violence by predatory priests placed them in a precarious position. Just as the Catholic Church covered up the sexual abuse of children by priests, so too the Judeo.christian tradition covers up its sanctified animal abuse with sweet words of compassion that lose all meaning when paired with allowable harm and slaughter.
The recent indiscriminate bombing of a school in Palestinian territory killed hundreds of children, as their lives were viewed as expendable, when compared to the lives of Israeli children. When the life of one child is viewed as more worthy of respect than that of a child from another culture, then no children are safe. When some lives are considered less precious than others violence is a predictable end result.
As Passover and Easter are celebrated, the time is right to expose the cover-up and end the charade of sanctified animal abuse of the Judeo.Christian religions in the name of tradition.
“One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.”—Martin Luther King
Letter from Ruth Eisenbud to Mayor Bloomberg: The Death of a Goose…A Religious Perspective
Dateline: 9 Feb 2010
To Mayor Bloomberg,
Despite wealth, power and a perceived self importance, your true nature as expressed by your decision to kill geese whose only crime is living near an airport, reveals an uneducated and compassionless mindset.
“Cruelty to animals is one of the distinguishing vices of low and base minds. Wherever it is found, it is a certain mark of ignorance and meanness; a mark which all the external advantages of wealth, splendour, and nobility, cannot obliterate. It is consistent neither with learning nor true civility. -William Jones
The following is a story about a goose and an individual who practices the Jain religion of India. Jainism holds non-violence to all beings as its core belief:
“For there is nothing inaccessible for death. All beings are fond of life, hate pain, like pleasure, shun destruction, like life, long to live. To all life is dear.” Jain Acharanga Sutra
I was in a car with a Jain friend who accidentally hit a goose that wandered onto the highway. She stopped the car, said a prayer for the goose, called the authorities and although we were going to a big celebration with lots of great vegetarian food, she ate nothing to atone for ACCIDENTALLY killing a goose. The taking of a life intentional or accidental is taken seriously by this religious tradition….
This story is not intended to promote the Jain religion, but rather, to point out that when religions do allow for the killing of animals they often produce callous, insensitive and disrespectful individuals.
Undoubtedly you will snicker at this story, and perhaps even make childish jokes about people who hold such beliefs, but I assure you the laugh is on you. Your belief that such a view is naive or unrealistic, could not be further from the truth.
As a product of the Judeo-Christian tradition, in all likelihood you are not a vegetarian and do not see the cruelty inherent in taking the life of a non-human being to enhance your own. The religious view of the American mainstream, which you almost certainly adhere to, allows for the harming/killing of animals to benefit man, so when the geese are perceived as a nuisance or a danger to humans, the cheapest and easiest solution is to kill them. Fortunately wiser men than you have long understood the importance of respect for the lives of all creatures:
“I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” Abraham Lincoln
The Jain religion teaches that non-violence (Ahimsa) is the highest religion. The practitioners of this religion have lived a non-violent lifestyle for many millennia, as Jainism is one of the oldest religions. It existed in India in the Shamanistic culture of the South long before the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions came into being. That it has survived for so long is a tribute to the intelligence, spiritual discipline and moral character of those following it. There have been no Jain wars, no inquisitions and no holocausts:.
You see, when you honor the lives of all creatures, you also honor the lives of humans.
You, on the other hand make light of the killing of geese whom you INTEND to kill. Your approach is in all likelihood consistent with the view towards animals of your religious heritage. This disrespect and callous indifference are a product of teachings which sanctify the harming/killing of animals. It does not occur to you that there is anything wrong with consuming the flesh of non-human animals, wearing their skins or killing them when they become a ‘problem’.
Furthermore your track record of putting to death untold numbers of healthy dogs and cats in the poorly run and underfunded ACC of NY is one of the worst in the nation.
Ironically you are from a people who has throughout history been the target of persecution. Your inability to extend the same compassion you would claim for your people to other living beings indicates a serious flaw in your ability to understand compassion.
“…in their behavior toward creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right”. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer
Despite all the trappings of wealth and power, your smug disregard for the life of a goose, or any other animal for that matter, reveals your true worth.
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