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Equality of Life

by Rita E. Anderson

Before I begin, I want you to picture this in your mind:

You are walking down a busy sidewalk one afternoon. You have just clocked out from your job for the day, and you feel as if you really could fly up into the air, throught the clouds, and touch the sky if you wanted. Because not only is today Friday, but your boss just informed you that you'll be getting a 10% raise for dedicating so much of your time and effort into your project. You feel that there is absolutley nothing that could put you out of your good mood.

So you're walking down the sidewalk, smiling and nodding your head to people that you pass, when you come upon a big commotion. There is a group of about five or six boys all surrounding one small, very miserable-looking child. They are pushing him back and forth from one person to the next, and as they knock him around, the pair of scotch-taped glasses that had been esting on his freckled nose fall off, and are crushed under the weight of one stomping foot.

The boys continue shoving him around, and you can hear them making comments like: "You're so stupid, you retard! You don't even know how to read, and they're still letting you start middle school."

Then one of the rather taller boys walks up to the one in the center, chest all puffed out like he's the king of the land. He says, "You little faggot. What's wrong with you? Can't you even defend yourself? Oh, but wait! I forgot! You're too stupid to do something like that, you retard. Are you mental or something? You belong in a nut house. People like you don't belong out in the real world; you shouldn't be let loose like this. Why can't you just get it through your thick skull that we're better then you and there's nothing you can ever do to change that?!" Turning to the others: "Come on. I think we need to teach this little freak just who's the boss." And then they proceed to beat him senseless, darkening his eye, bloodying his lip, knocking the wind out if him.

Completely forgetting about your raise, you look around, desperately seeking someone that can help you stop these monstrous people from possibly killing the little boy, the little boy whose only fault was that he wasn't as smart as some other people. But no one even seems to be paying attention. They just walk on by as if it weren't even happening, becuase this is something that happens so often anyway. People are being murdered every day for reasons that are so stupid. A 17 year-old girl is stabbed to death because she happened to be looking the wrong way at the wrong time. Another girl is beaten unconscious because her teeth are crooked and others view her as being "different." So they walk on by and don't help you help the boy becuase it's best if they just leave things alone and don't get involved. It's not like it's going to prevent someone else from being killed tomorrow or the next day. And by thinking this way, the boy goes on being punched and hit, and eventually dies in the hospital that night from excessive bleeding and brain damage.

This horrible scene that I just put through your mind--does this disturb you? Do you feel bad for the little boy who had to die? Probably. Most people would. But then, how often do you feel this way about an animal who's been killed? If you're like a lot of people, and you include meat as a part of a healthy diet, you wouldn't think twice about the cow who had to die ti make your hamburger. You wouldn't hesitate to swat a mosquitoe that had landed on your arm, or reel in the big fish that got hooked to your line. Yet if a person, imagine--a real PERSON, were to die tragically by the hands of others, you would gasp and say, "Oh, that's so sad!' Then you would wonder, "What kind of society are we living in where innocent people are killed like this? What is this world coming to?"

Believe it or not, this type of thinking is defined as SPECIESISM, a prejudice against others becuase they are of a different species. Though increasing numbers of people are turning away from this way of thinking, it still poisons the minds of millions. And what are we teaching our children> We feed them the bloody flesh of all those suffering animals, and soon they learn that it's alright to kill, that because the animals aren't as good as us or as smart as us, it's okay if they die.

The whole idea of eating an animal is really very gruesome. Imagine this now:

Your best friend of twenty years dies of cancer. In all the years that you've known each other, you've gronw so close, that you no longer think of her as your friend, but as your sister. When you first heard that she was dead, you didn't believe it, thought that it was some sort of sick joke, becuas ethings like this aren't supposed to happen to good people. But as the hours slowly tick by without a word from your friend, you begin to realize the truth, and you are shattered. Your heart aches so much to be able to see her again, that you go back down tot he hospital and ask that you be able to keep the body so that you'll always be able to look at her, because talking to a grave stone just isn't the same as talking the the person's face.

You take the body over to the taxodermist to have it stuffed. And when you get home, you carefully place her in a rocking chair, cover her legs with a blanket, and make her look presentable for anyone that might want to see her.

Now, you probably think this is really disgusting. Anyone who would do something like this needs to find some professional help. But how is this any different from stuffing ann animal? I'll tell you how. When you have an animal that's been stuffed, you most likely killed it yourself. You went out, purposely put a bullet in its neck, and then hauled your kill home with you. And the animal didn't MEAN anything to you. It's not as if it were a family pet. You just felt like killing something that day. So, epending on how you think about it, keeping your dead friend in your house, crazy as it may sound, makes a lot more sense than hanging an animal on your wall.

If an animal dies, one thing that might happen to it is, instead of being wasted, it's eaten. But if a person dies, they are most likely either burned to ashes or buried in a wooden box six feet underground. They aren't eaten. Their bodies aren't put to any good use. They're just left in the ground to rot and are forgotten, much the same way as garbage or trash from the dump is buried or burned. But, what if--just think about this a for a minute--what if those bodies were used tofeed all of the starving people in homeless shelters or sent to the starving children in Africa? Do you know how may people that would keep from starving? Thousands. Millions, maybe! But the reason we don't do this is because the people of today's society feel that humans are better than animals and definitly don't deserve this kind of treatment. To a lot of people, animals are not forms of life. They are not beings with hearts and feelings. They are used only as targets or as "play things," as if they are incapable of feeling pain, when in truth, they feel just as much as we do. But why? Each of us is, after all, an animal. We all have an equal right to this Earth, to live and be happy. So why must we kill and take it away?

You may be wondering, "If we didn't hunt or kill any animals, then wouldn't they become over-populated?" or, "If other animals kill each other, why is it so bad that we do it too?"

In answer ot this first question: If they were to become over-populated, many would not be able to find enough food, would eventually starve, and the problem would solve itself. And even though some animals would stil end up dying, at least we wouldn't have contributed to it, and we'd be allowing nature to do its work instead.

As for the second question, the same thing goes. Animals will kill each other, but that doesn't mean we have to help. Animals kill for food becuase meat is the only thing they can digest. But humans do not need meat in their diet (in actuality, eating too much meat can cause heart problems).

So I guess my reason for writing all this is not in hopes of instantly converting everyone into a vegetarian. But more along the lines of opening people's eyes to a lot of the cruelty and thoughtlessness that we have in this world. Next time you bite down into that thick, juicy hamburger, remind yourself of what that animal had to go through in order to provide you with a tasty meal--not a healthy, necessary meal, mind you, but more like a good-tasting snack.

Here are three very great links for you if you're interested in looking at them:

The World Wide Fund for Nature
Vegan Outreach
The World-Famous San Diego Zoo