This weekend, my eyes were opened a little bit wider.
Yesterday, I joined the Save Movement and stood outside a slaughterhouse for the first time to bear witness, for a few hours, and see with my own eyes cows coming into the facility. JBS yearly kills over 2 million cows. That may sound astonishing but you don’t get a clear picture of what that actually looks or feels like. In about an hour, I saw four trucks enter the facility and three more as we were leaving. The reality of seeing the frequency of these trucks, filled two levels high with terrified cows still haunts me. We were able to stop two semis and interact with the cows before police officers showed up and we were forced to watch in pain from the side. Approaching the trailer, I didn’t know what to expect. I want to believe these cows are okay, that they lived good lives and were loved. What I saw was terror. They were drooling and covered in poop. They were very stressed and uneasy, bumping into each other and the sides of the truck. I locked eyes with them and tried to talk calmly to them.
There is an inspiring, growing number of people who are open and actively seeking truths about our system. However, I often hear excuses from Americans when they are asked to make decisions and take actions based on truth and ethics, particularly when it comes to food. Who is to stay one way is right or wrong? Every individual is different and must make personal decisions on what they eat. I do not believe in strict labels and rules, instead I believe in truths and ethics. Truths about climate change, human and animal rights, spirituality, and most importantly the truths about history seem more and more cloudy. Why are there laws that ban cities from plastics bag banning? How can consumers agree with USDA programs like HIMP, running faster slaughter lines with less government inspectors? If we see the realities of big agriculture will we decide to still buy into it? Have people really looked at the facts around these issues and made decisions based on their ethics? How can we reach peace among humans if we kill billions of the most innocent beings every year?
Willful ignorance: when someone knows the truth, but chooses to ignore it.
I imagine being in a semi without water, packed in tight with people on two levels, riding for hours with no bathroom break. I imagine these things in my body and then I imagine being in a cows body. I imagine all of this in the summer, when it is 112 degrees out.
What I saw yesterday was a small step in enlightening myself and others. I refuse to turn away from these truths. Standing on the side of the road, I enjoyed watching peoples reaction to reading our signs and seeing all of us gathered. Some honked and gave us thumbs up, some stared in bewilderment, others flipped us off or gave us thumbs down. Either way, they noticed us.
“When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to him who suffers, and try to help him.”
– Leo Tolstoy