Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Even if we can't, so what?

A country stained for so long by slavery and its aftermath has elected an African-American to lead it.  The outgoing president has finally justified his existence.  His torching of countries and ideals made possible the otherwise impossible election of Barack Obama.  So the world rejoices, as it should.  But it's hard not to look a little further down the ballot and see that here in California voters took it upon themselves to tell people they've never met, sorry, but marriage is for us, not you.  And then a little further down still the proposition to "end cruelty" by adding a few cubic feet of legroom to the pre-slaughter lives of pigs and laying hens won a resounding victory.  In the minds of the voters, the issue has been resolved.  The all-you-can-eat conscience-free buffet is now open for dinner.

People are still giddy from last night's seismic change.  Suggest to them that maybe the passage of Prop 2 is a setback instead of an improvement and they'll shake their heads in frustration.  How can anybody be thinking about farm animals during a time of economic upheaval, unjust wars, corporate pillaging and catastrophic climate change that some day soon will render all other issues moot?  Can you really be such myopic, single-issue obsessives?

The answer is yes, when that single issue is society's daily imprisonment, torture and slaughter of millions of sentient beings and when this daily slaughter takes place with barely detectable resistance from people who eagerly join the fight against every other injustice.  Talk to these people about a day when animals are no longer deemed human property to dispose of as we see fit and they'll tell you it's naive, self-indulgence by wide-eyed fools tilting at windmills.  "It'll never happen, I wish it would but it won't, no matter how much you hope it will," someone said to me a few days ago.

Hope?  Who said anything about hope?  Dan Cudahy, author of Unpopular Vegan Essays, wrote recently in a comment on the Animal Person blog,
I'm not going to get into my personal lack of hope about the future regarding animal rights ... because it has nothing to do with my advocacy/activism.  I advocate for what I think is right regarding sentient beings ... regardless of my doubts of ever achieving it.  ... I have no need for hope.
We're guided by what we see in front of us, and what we see is one species, which has the capacity to reason, using that reason to decide it's perfectly legitimate to torture and kill other species who cherish their lives just as we do, who fear just as we fear and suffer just as we suffer.

A proposition to put an end to our dominion over other species won't be on the next election's ballot.  It probably won't be on next century's ballot either.  So do we really truly hope to succeed?  Do we honestly think people will ever give up enslaving and slaughtering millions of their fellow animals each day?  What we hope is beside the point.  It must be stopped.