Living Graves

young lives cut short:

C Santhanam Gopalakrishnan from India wrote me a few days ago:

“…you people are doing a great job by advocating vegetarianism. May your tribe increase.”

Santhanam attached to his letter a truly horrifying video. In an unnamed Asian restaurant kitchen, a smiling chef takes a very large live fish from a tank, and scales it while the fish is still living. The fish is threshing wildly as his skin is being flayed, and slips off the bench a couple of times in his writhing agony.

The chef, while holding the fish firmly by the tail, then quickly dips the whole struggling fish in batter and lowers him face first into smoking hot oil. After only a few seconds in the oil, (so he does not die yet) the fish is lifted, still grasped firmly by the tail, and placed on a plate of vegetables, quickly slit down it’s backbone with a sharp knife, and rushed to the table of hungry, smilingly expectant diners.

The camera pans in for a closer view: The fish’s lips are clearly opening and closing. He is still alive. ‘This is what the diner’s came here for’, gushes the CBS reporter. It’s the restaurant’s specialty: The freshest fish.

Later I turned to the concluding moments of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on a delayed broadcast from PBS Network in USA and observed their nightly ritual: the latest list of US servicemen killed in Iraq, with their photos and rank scrolling down the screen in respectful silence. A dozen more slaughtered young men and women, many younger than some of my children.

Again I am reminded of the inexorable connection between violence to our non-human brothers, and war. It ceases to amaze me how so many people just do not see (as my mother used to say) ‘the bleedin’ obvious’.

A few, like famous vegetarian playright George Bernard Shaw, did see it. Here is his poem “Living Graves” which is as relevant today as it was in 1951.

We are the living graves of murdered beasts,
Slaughtered to satisfy our appetites.
We never pause to wonder at our feasts,
If animals, like men, can possibly have rights.
We pray on Sundays that we may have light,
To guide our footsteps on the path we tread.
We’re sick of war, we do not want to fight –
The thought of it now fills our hearts with dread,
And yet – we gorge ourselves upon the dead.

Like carrion crows, we live and feed on meat,
Regardless of the suffering and pain
We cause by doing so, if thus we treat
Defenceless animals for sport or gain,
How can we hope in this world to attain
The PEACE we say we are so anxious for.
We pray for it, o’er hecatombs of slain,
To God, while outraging the moral law
Thus cruelty begets its offspring – WAR.

Posted by Kurma on 6/5/08; 2:35:28 AM

Life and Travel

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