On January 31, 2009
We live in troubled times, there's no doubt about that. Some say the worst in a very long time. So many people are hurting; so many people are suffering. Not just here but everywhere. Fear has been loosed upon the planet. It's tough not to lose your perspective during such times, to not lose your bearings. It's tough to keep track of due north.
But few said it better than Dickens. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
During times of trouble, we show who we are. And humanity, for all its faults, seemingly rises to meet the challenges before it. It's what we do; it's how we've endured. It's what builds our character and defines it.
Right now, many are in survival mode. Fear does that. And when one is in survival it's hard to see beyond one's self and inmediate situation. It's kill or be killed; eat or be eaten.
What get's lost in the fear is love and compassion. It's a lot easier to be compassionate when times are good. And it's hard enough to be compassionate about our fellow human beings much less the other animals on the planet. Charity toward others becomes strained.
So . . . what's this got to do with horses? Horses are domesticated, like dogs and cats. They depend entirely upon us for their survival. But unlike dogs and cats, they don't sleep in our beds and keep us warm; they can easily become another mouth to feed -- an expensive mouth to feed. And so they become quite expendable. People can't afford them anymore and so they are among the first to go. But because they're domesticated they aren't afforded the same respect given to the Polar Bears of the Artic, the baby Fur Seals of Nova Scotia, or the Bald Eagle of North America. Horses aren't endangered and they are, after all, beasts of burden. Not quite cows but close, at least to those except horse people. So they are becoming easily discarded like toys we no longer need, or can afford.
What happens to them? They get shuffled around. Maybe they find a good home, or after being shuffled around long enough they end up at public auctions where they're bought up as meat on the hoof, shipped off to Mexico or Canada in crowded double-decker trucks. It doesn't matter if they suffer, or even die along the way because when they get where they're going they're going to be slaughtered anyway. A worker will stab them in the forehead with a knife as they go through a shoot, or in the neck to sever the spinal cord, an act considered barbaric and illegal even in Mexico. Maybe his aim is a little off and it ends up in the horse's eye. Either way, the horse get's quickly strung up and hung from his hind legs. A knife cuts open his jugular vein and the blood poors out. The intelligent creature isn't intelligent enough to know what's happening. Maybe that's a good thing but even so he's terrified. He feels his life draining out of him but there's nothing he can do. Usually, it takes too long for him to die completely, or the workers are impatient, so they start to cut him open, disembowel him before he's dead. The sounds of screaming horses that come from the slaughter house will chill your blood and make you sick. The images of such incredible, beautiful, intelligent creatures being tortured and gutted will (should) rob you of your ability to sleep at night.
If they did that to dogs and cats, what do you suppose people would do? If they were doing it to Polar Bears or baby Fur Seals, what do you suppose people would say? Horses have been rightfully called the Dolphins of the plains. Can you imagine the outcry if that was being done to Dolphins?
It's not just about them. It's about us. What kind of people are we that we can allow such a thing? More on that later.
For the horses . . .