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March 6, 2010

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

Václav Havel

A few days ago I saw this horrifying picture on someone’s Facebook page.

I look at that picture and I see a woman whose sense of fun took the most valuable thing from the world that she could: life.  She did this with no justification- other than that she thought it would be fun to shoot an animal. Also disgusting, were the comments posted by her friends:

“Fuckin awesome. Guess his feet were’t to lucky”

“Sweet Jesus, what the hell is that??!!”



“That’s the biggest fuckin’ rabbit I’ve ever seen. Kudos to you!”

“ahhhhh! did you seriously kill that thing? His ears are Massive! haha baby stanley is WAY too cute to kill!”

“he is no Stanley !!! he needed to go… lol”

These comments remind me that acts of cruelty and disrespect for life are commonplace and socially acceptable in our culture. Finding hope becomes difficult in the face of this reality. Finding the place inside myself, where I can live in a world in which this picture and the act it captures is actually funny, is a daily struggle. This woman is holding a dead rabbit that did nothing to deserve her fate. I think of that rabbit suddenly, unexpectedly suffering the hot sear of a bullet ripping though her body. If she had time to contemplate what was happening, she must have thought, What? And then, Why?

I can’t imagine the confusion and the pain this rabbit felt. And when I try to imagine it I feel nauseous and angry and confused and lonely and scared.  Neither can I imagine what makes someone consider this a fun or funny endeavor. I am horrified. I am confused. I am lost.

I don’t understand why it is that most people choose not to see the things that I see so clearly.

I see animals who are denied all freedom and killed in scary painful ways. I see the eyes of a fox, his skin torn off of his body before he is killed. I see him, crying, whimpering, slowly dying, shocked by the pain. Most people see clothes.

I see concentration camps and torture chambers and kidnapping and environmental degradation and heart disease and cancer. Most people see “meat”.

I see emaciated, hungry cows with broken tails and swollen hooves. I see impoverished people working in tanneries, hands covered in boils, cancers taking over their bodies. Most people see shoes and purses and watchbands and car seats and briefcases and jackets and belts and furniture.

I feel fear and pain and panic when I think of the rabbit in that picture. Presumably, that woman feels fun or accomplishment and doesn’t acknowledge how cruel and brutal she has been.

A world with so much violence and selfishness and horror is not a world I know how to live in.  It becomes tempting to give up all hope. And some days I do. But it is the hopeless days when absolutely nothing gets done. So today, like every day, I will try to muster up all the hope I have. I will hope that if I keep trying and pushing and working for what I know is right something will change. I am not optimistic, but I am hopeful.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2010 2:45 pm

    We do not respect other peoples beliefs.
    In every subject, opinions or on issues we evaluate peoples reasons.
    We do not for instance respect the beliefs of Holocaust deniers or racists.
    We do not respect the beliefs of people who think its ok to sexually abuse children.
    Yet on matters of believing that the lives of non humans do not matter….we completely change the rules. The belief that it is OK to steal the life of another because he/she is not human is a belief that should no longer be tolerated.
    We need to demand that our society and culture no longer allow the belief that animals are different and that their lives don’t matter. We need to be just as intolerant with this ludicrous belief system and behavior as we are about other belief systems that are seen as unbelievable or morally repugnant and have no evidence to back them up.
    When people believe something to be true…they are making their best effort to represent reality in their thoughts. Either you have good reasons for a belief or you don’t. The idea that animals lives are worth less than human’s lives is part of a belief system based on no evidence whatsoever. In fact the opposite is true.
    Believing that God said animals were put here on earth for humans to use for any purpose lacks validity. Just because this is written in a book claimed to be dictated by the creator of the universe does not make it true. There is no evidence for this belief…none.
    When you hope something to be true you are imagining a possible state of the world.
    That is why hope has a chance…this is why hope is much more powerful than a belief..especially one without evidence.
    We need to begin to marginalize these belief systems that cause so much suffering and death for non humans.
    I hope that this will happen soon.
    Thank you.

  2. March 7, 2010 12:31 am

    Strangely enough, it’s things like this that make me believe in a higher power or purpose. If it weren’t true that we’re here in this life to learn something in service of a greater understanding, all this shit would be totally unbelievable.

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