July 31, 2014

Just Doing My Job

Most of the time, I’m a reasonable person, but I admit I can be very… sarcastic at times. Well, a lot of times, actually. The older I get, it seems the less tolerance I have for the stupidity of all of this, all of this meaning the hypocrisy I see in these self-glorified beings. Their arbitrary value system — hence ignorance — is “hiding in plain sight.”

“We’re having chicken for Christmas dinner,” I was warned before the holiday. I was being prepped for the discomfort they thought I’d feel. But I wasn’t worried about me; I’ve made it my goal in life to dish it back, and I really believe what they end up feeling hurts them more than it hurts me. So, naturally, on Christmas morning, I visited the family household, and — making certain there were plenty of folks in the kitchen at the time (so as to be heard by as wide an audience as possible) — I opened the refrigerator door and found what I was expecting.

“Oh, look!” I exclaimed, as excited as a child finding presents under the tree. “A chicken!” In fact, there were several chickens, still cellophaned, plucked bare, dismembered, and decapitated in there. I couldn’t have asked for a better prop.

“You know what they say about chicken,” I added, holding everyone’s attention. They’ve got more room in this icebox than they had when they were alive.”

Now I’m not saying a shrimp is any less deserving than a chicken, but I did note more of them, and fewer bird parts, were eaten that night.

Me? I was just doing my job.

At the mall recently, I made out the distinguishable sound of a pig squealing. I’d heard it before: in holding pens at slaughter plants, but it was quite unexpected in a mall hallway. I followed the source of the squeal to a local feed store’s display, complete with a 10-week-old piglet and two baby goats. Children were gathered at the makeshift pen, their parents encouraging them to admire the animals, while a store employee held the squealing piglet closer. A young man told his four-year-old daughter, “You’d give anything to hold that little guy, wouldn’t you?”

We know that about our children, don’t we? That they’d cuddle, not consume, the fascinating creatures who share this earth with us. We’re not conscious of it — most of us aren’t anyway — of our humanness, our innate sense of fairness and compassion, but it’s hiding in plain sight. It comes through in the way we see the world when looking through children’s eyes, and how fragile and precious we allow ourselves to view other life.

I know, I know, there is so much abuse and apathy in the world, but if, by nature, we were blood-lusting creatures, we’d all be lusting for blood, and that can’t be said about all of us. If we were, by nature, a violent species — and I would appreciate your counter argument, given our history in the world with each other and nature — then we would all be prone to acts of violence, we’d all be committing cold-blooded murder, rape and pillage. But, even throughout history, these acts are limited to a few and the few who rose to stop them. Slaughterhouses are surrounded by high walls for a reason. The few who’ve convinced the masses they need to partake in the hidden violence know better, and they work to keep the blinders on, lest they lose their profits.

And so, when humans are watching their offspring play with the offspring of others, I’m watching them. I know none of them are thinking beyond the here and now. They’re not seeing the piglet grow into a butchering-sized beast of unnatural proportion; they don’t see the farrowing and finishing pens, the crammed transport trucks, the electric prods, dislocated joints, auction yard fear, the slaughterhouse blood. They don’t see the piglet’s pain-filled journey, feel its horrifying, blood-squirming thrashing, or hear its bloody murder screaming.

Cute little piggy.

So, naturally, I said to a nearby parent. “Weird to think someday that pig’ll be somebody’s bacon, eh?”

Oh, man, did I get the dirtiest look.

“You had to say that in front of the kid, didn’t ya?” came the retort.

“Yep,” I thought, not verbalizing it. “It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.”

Keep fighting the good fight. And never let them hide, especially in plain sight.

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