HITLER, HENRY FORD, AND THE JUNGLE

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Last night I braved the cold (seriously, it got down into the 20s not including the wind), so pat on the back with my good arm, for my monthly vegan book club discussion. We talked about The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle, Ph.D. I recalled receiving bemused looks from an older couple who noticed the title as I read in a coffee shop. I heard the gentleman read aloud the title which prompted his woman friend to turn around and look at it for a moment. Then she turned back to her companion and mentioned eating the best sausage she’d ever had recently.

Sigh. I’m used to this behavior and yet it never ceases to amaze me. How many millions of Americans attend places of worship each week, give thanks before meals, listen to preachers preach about peace, and pray for peace? Then they see a book title, The World Peace Diet, most knowledgable enough to understand it’s about veganism, and scoff at it. Re-read the previous sentence–they equate the word peace with vegan, a life-affirming, life-altering equation and concept I’ve tried to explain to non-vegans. Who doesn’t want peace (except our government and conglomerates that bribe it to do their bidding)? Remember, I grew up in church. Two plus decades of Sunday school, sermons, youth groups, singing in the choir, member classes and “graduation,” youth Deacon. Lots of talk and bible verses and praying for peace.

The god thing eluded me; fellowship, that sense of community, brought me pleasure. This pleasure was felt most keenly at the extra-curricular activities: church suppers, church cookouts, singing Christmas carols at the local nursing home followed by food and drink at a member’s home. Food, always food and fellowship, and meat, lots of meat. Looking back, I see the contradiction so clearly. As clearly as the above couple knew the book title dealt with a vegan lifestyle. And just as quickly when the cognitive dissonance kicked in and talk turned to tasty sausage.

So here’s my question–do you want peace or not? As far as I can tell, millennia of praying for peace has proved woefully insufficient. Oh, it may make those praying feel good until the next meal or Sunday, but it’s not just about YOU, the prayerful. It’s about all of us. Peace was made a possibility for all beings, human and non-human. Not one being is less deserving of it no matter what you were brought up to believe.

“Mainstream religious teachings typically tell us we are special if we agree to an exclusivist creed. They rarely question our violent food choices but rather encourage them by declaring that animals have no souls and that God gave us animals to eat–and they sponsor barbecues, pig roasts, fish fries, and turkey dinners in communities across America. It was not so long ago, when the fourth-century emperor Constantine made Christianity the Roman state religion, that its earlier vegetarian emphasis was completely repressed and actually became a heresy, with Constantine reportedly ordering his men to pour molten lead down the throats of any Christians who refused to eat animal flesh.” (161)

Don’t think science hasn’t proved to be just as instrumental in perpetuating the “rightness” of subjugating and killing animals:

“It’s helpful to realize that conventional science and religion, while often feuding bitterly with each other, are in actuality strikingly similar in their underlying assumptions. They are two proud sons of the herding culture, and they both tend to reinforce the reductionist mentality required of those who inhabit their father’s culture. This mentality is required to sustain the practice of enslaving and eating large animals, and to support an economic system based on exclusion and exploitation…conventional reductionist science flatly denies the existence of any reality beyond what can be physically quantified. This materialist mythos ignores spirituality and the mysterious adventure of consciousness, and tends to reduce both animals and humans to mere survival machines propelled by genetic and chemical forces.”

“In stripping away the inherent meaning and worth of animals and nature and reducing life to material processes, genetic programming, and operant condition, our own meaning, our worth, and our status are redefined in terms of how efficiently we serve the ends of the economic/political complex.” (154-155)

OK, I’ll leave you to ponder the connection referred to in this blog post’s title. It’s truly disturbing and blew my mind:

“In Eternal Treblinka, historian Charles Patterson shows how the parallels between the ways that the old herding cultures abused both animals and humans have continued into the present day. Focusing on the rational, democratic culture that became Nazi Germany, he points out the startling similarities between our domination of other people and our domination of animals for food. Adolf Hitler kept on his office wall a framed picture of Henry Ford, the consummate capitalist and racist supremacist whose assembly lines inspired Hitler’s mass extermination mechanism. Ford, in turn, got his assembly line idea from the disassembly lines in the old Chicago slaughterhouses.” (Hence using Sinclair Lewis’s expose/novel about the horrific conditions at Chicago slaughterhouses, The Jungle) (177-178)

Lack of communication is unhealthy.

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