When we look out into the world it sure looks like we are all separate beings. We have separate bodies. We have different interests. We have different perspectives and experiences. But at the core of who we are, we are creations of Divine Mind, Divine Heart, Divine Soul. We know that all matter is derived from the original ‘breath of Spirit’ or ‘Big Bang’ and we are all made up of the same stuff. As Joni Mitchell so beautifully wrote in her 1970 hit Woodstock, “We are stardust. We are golden. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
Why am I talking about this?
When you are able to get at the soul level that ‘we are One,’ then life truly arises in a different way. You awaken to ‘there is no other.’ The belief that ‘we are One,’ calls us to know no ‘other.’ It enjoins us to Love without conditions or boundaries. As One, we understand that when we hurt another, we hurt ourselves. Jesus knew this when he taught, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31) and “Love one another; just as I have loved you, you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
But despite our knowing these golden teachings, we are generally okay with hurting those whom we deem to be ‘others’ every day of our lives.
Why is that?
I actually don’t think we are okay with it. I think most of us live busy lives and we don’t want to think about or see anything that might make us uncomfortable - even if it is staring us right in the face. In the same way that we rarely stop to be in awe of the amazingness of the Universe, we also rarely stop to question our habits, or look into anything that might cause us to feel bad. We protect ourselves by putting the things that we don’t want to see into mental closets. And we close the door, not realizing that that which is holed up inside is something that our soul is imploring us to examine.
Here’s a question to examine: “How did this food actually get to my plate?”
Since our earliest days, our caregivers placed food on our plates that was called “meat” and if we connected it to anything, it was to mental images of happy animals living happy lives on happy farms. We may have even had stories read to us or learned songs that supported that mental image.
But that’s not a true picture. I’m not sure it ever was, but I am sure that in today’s world – where the demand for meat has increased 600% since 1950 - it surely isn’t. (The Atlantic June 13, 2013 "Peak Meat" ) Here are just a few snapshots of what mass production of 'life' looks like. Google image 'factory farm' and you'll get a fuller picture.
These intelligent and emotionally sensitive beings get to see sunlight for
the first time on their last day of life...while on the transport truck
headed to slaughter.
When we were young, we believed what we were told - simply that meat is what people eat, we need it and it is good for us. We didn’t give much thought that it was actually another sentient being that we were turning into food for our purposes. If we asked further, we might have been told that the animals were actually created for us to use in whatever way we wanted.
Hmmmm. Sounds like a ‘uniquely human perspective’ to me. Do you think we might feel differently if another species thought that way about us?
So many of the things we learned as children may no longer hold true for us as spiritually minded adults. In fact, some of it is downright not helpful to keep around. We can be free - if we want - from the patterns, beliefs and habits (all rooted in separation) that we inherited. We can change our behaviors in ways that match our growth from childhood consciousness. We are ALL One. Not just some of us; ALL of us. And we hold the power to create lives that express that.
If you are willing to look, you will see that what is called ‘meat’ is not a happy animal, but a dead body of a fellow sentient being. That in itself is enough to know. But she was also likely denied everything she needed in order to be who she was born to be, kept in abysmal conditions during her short life, and killed as a youngster. Like you and I, she wanted to live – to eat, sleep and play freely in the fresh air - to enjoy a full life and hang out with companions of her choice. And just like you and I, she didn't want to be separated from her mother or have part of her nose trimmed off with a heated blade. And she surely didn't want to be cooked in the oven. No one wants that.
All beings desire freedom of movement. All babies want to be near
their mothers. Why do we do this?
Debeaking of day old chicks is standard industry practice. This is because they tend to peck at each other in unnaturally crowded conditions.
And no one wants to make this dreadful journey.
There are no federal laws protecting birds used for food from inhumane slaughter, or requiring any level of care for them during transport.
If you are still with me, thank you for your bravery. Believe me, you haven’t seen the worst. All this may be unsettling and even bring up feelings of guilt. If it does, that’s a good thing, because it means you care and you are not defending or deflecting. I encourage you to be courageous and feel the feelings rather than run away. Guilt can actually be a very powerful force for good! It is a tool of your Conscience to turn you in a direction that is closer to the ideal of Universal Love and the tenet, “We are One.” Feel it. But don’t hold onto it. Let it go. Then give yourself permission to move in a new direction. There are so many other food options available that are healthier, kinder and more life-sustaining!
Please think on these things. Today. The non-human animals who share the planet with us are not some-things. They are some-ones. It’s really very simple when you think about it. Treat them how you would like to be treated. Be Love-in-action. Remember, we are ALL One.
© carol saunders 2016
Thank you for listening. If you are moved to grow today, here are some resources that may support you.
To learn more about the emotional lives of non-human animals:
To learn more about making a change away from eating non-human animals:
Rev. Carol Saunders
I am an ordained minister, speaker, writer and lover of all life. In 2010 I founded a spiritual community in Deerfield, IL, a suburb of Chicago, and have recently transitioned it to a weekly interactive gathering and podcast called The Spiritual Forum. Being a voice for the animals and a light for the spiritually-inclined who are willing to seriously examine the self and begin to awaken, are what Spirit has called me to be. I am here to support anyone who wants to move toward living in closer alignment with their deeply held spiritual values. Our world needs more Love, Peace and Kindness. We can make that happen. But we won't be able to until we transform some of the violent and unkind ways of living we inherited from our culture. Be Love. Be Peace. Be Kind. Today.