I encountered this pig on the streets of Cité Soleil, Haiti in March 2016.  I’ve been thinking about him – or her – a lot lately.  I am certain he is happier rummaging on this garbage-strewn beach than the millions of pigs raised on industrial farms in a space no larger than a refrigerator.  I imagine he laughs with the children as they frolic in the dirty water.

In the new year, I will reduce my intake of meat.

I am a carnivore and enjoy a good steak, a moist pork chop, and a perfectly roasted fowl.

My decision to moderate my intake of meat is not a dietary one, nor a decision motivated by the unnatural chemicals we force our animals to eat, although both are important and worth serious consideration.

My decision to reduce my intake of meat is a moral one…

In 2020, I was – and will continue to be – highly active in an agricultural project in the Sonoran Desert.  The word ‘sustainability’ has become important to me.  If you’ve heard it before but can’t define it, let me help you.  While you may find many and varying definitions, this is how I’ve come to consider ‘sustainability’

The ability to exist by avoiding the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

Several weeks ago, a friend I met through the farm project introduced me to Waterbear Network, “… the first interactive streaming platform dedicated to the future of our planet.”

The first film I watched on Waterbear was “M6NTHS.”  The 12-minute film presents life through the eyes of a piglet who grows up on an industrial farm.  He lives his short life – 6 months – caged in a concrete room with a herd of fellow pigs.  Life for the pig is two things

  • He eats – more accurately is stuffed – so that he gains weight quickly.
  • He stares out the 12-inch x 12-inch opening in the upper corner of his cell and is mesmerized at the sight of a green-leaved branch blowing in the breeze against a sky blue background.  What could it be, and how much more beautiful and vibrant than the grey stone that imprisons him and his companions?

He wonders what life is like beyond the concrete walls that confine him.

The ONLY time the pig leaves his concrete bunker is when he is herded out and loaded into the truck that will deliver him and his companions to the slaughterhouse.

This is no way to treat a creature, I thought.  I felt shame that I contribute to the misery of his brief and uneventful life because I have purchased products from those who treat him so inhumanely.

I recall the opening scene of one of my favorite films – 1992’s “The Last of the Mohicans” –   Hawkeye, Chingachgook, and Uncas chase an elk through the forest, and Hawkeye’s sure aim brings the elk down.  Before the hunters do anything to the carcass, the three men kneel before it and apologize for taking its life, and then honor its speed, strength, and courage.  That is how it should be.  We should give thanks to the creatures whose lives sustain us, and we should honor them by allowing them to live their lives as God intended, in the open fields and forests, not crammed in concrete bunkers or immobile in countless rows of stalls where their only activity is to eat… where their only exposure to the world is a few square feet.

All life matters.

Mitakuye Oyasin

 

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  1. I am almost through with the Faith of Job. I can’t put it down. I like the way you weave the characters together. Have you heard of Corrie Ten Boom? She and her family sheltered Jews in Amsterdam, Holland. She and her sister were captured by the Nazis and sent to POW camps. Her sister died. There is a pretty well known book and movie called the Hiding Place that talks about their lives.