Sunday, October 07, 2007

The circle of life

This is an article that was written for Australian Shooter magazine (ISSN-1442-7354) by columnist Warren McKay. I added the hyperlinks.

Page 8 – Around the campfire by Warren McKay

Every living thing has a beginning. It lives and sooner or later it dies. And all, including humans, end up feeding, in life or death, something else.

To try to stave off the inevitable, many cultures have employed some form of embalming in an attempt to forestall the eventual “indignation” of being consumed by some of Nature’s smallest creatures. For all of our existence, man has looked to an afterlife to avoid the finality of death. The spirit may live on but the body does not.

Those of us that live in developed countries are sheltered from a lot of the realities of this cycle. Go to a “Third World” country and it is right in your face. It can be very unsettling to see the conditions under which many people live. Birth, the daily necessity of obtaining food, survival and eventual death are there for all to see. We are so shielded that many lose contact with reality. For us, the biggest concern about food gathering is whether or not we make it to the shop before closing time.

Not that far back, though, we were observers, as well as participants, in the circle of life. Many births were in the home, not hidden by hospital walls. Infant mortality was a fact of life and a death was often in the home surrounded by the extended family. Now, we tend to shield our children from what we perceive as the unpleasant parts of reality. Back then, the circle of birth, life and death was part of everyone’s lives.

Again, not that far back, many households kept chickens. They supplied eggs and the roosters became the Sunday roast. People understood where their food came from. Chopping the head off the rooster was as normal as pulling carrots out of the garden. Imagine the outcry today if you carried out that act with someone less in touch with the realities of life watching.

Very few of our western population have the task of supplying their own food. Most of us work to make the money to pay someone else to do it for us. We are so divorced from the need or responsibility for hunting and gathering our own food that this has led to a loss of connection with the natural world and the understanding of man’s role in that system.

It is this loss of understanding of our place in the natural scheme of things, I propose, that has led to an illogical line of thinking and the resultant emergence of radical animal rights groups. They scream cruelty for just about everything to do with animals, yet are prepared to ignore the fact that the meat they eat was a living animal. When confronted with the hypocracity of her stance one activist that I “crossed swords with” could only put forward as a defence, “But that is different”.

Once our supermarket meat came on a white polystyrene tray with a white absorbent mat. Now you’ll notice the trays and mats are black. Why? The sensitivities of some people are upset by the sight of blood. It offends them in one of two ways: either it reminds them that the meat was once a living, breathing animal whose death they are responsible for by wanting meat to eat, or it reminds them of their own mortality. They don’t like the reality of either.


We are a living organism on this planet. We are just as much a part of the circle of life as every other living thing and like all animals, we have to eat to survive and that means something else dies so that we may live.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said!

Carolyn B. said...

"It is this loss of understanding of our place in the natural scheme of things, I propose, that has led to an illogical line of thinking and the resultant emergence of radical animal rights groups. They scream cruelty for just about everything to do with animals, yet are prepared to ignore the fact that the meat they eat was a living animal."

Although I completely concur with the author on the observation that most humans have lost the "understanding of our place in the natural scheme of things', many animal rights groups are heavily populated by vegans, not meat eaters. Vegans do not eat any animals under any circumstances.

Is it the place of homo sapiens to determine the natural scheme of things? I think not, but we continue to make such claims. Perhaps a better position is, if you're willing to eat it, you should be willing to kill/harvest it.

That's where we've lost our way. We have been totally sheltered from the act of slaughter, and that is to the benefit of the factory farm conglomerates in this nation. If everyone knew the killing process by which the beef, pork, or chicken reached the Styrofoam packs in the grocery store, many would not buy the products of slaughter, leading to a reduced consumer base.