My son has been asking me questions lately. He wonders how come people migrating to Australia massacred the indigineous population. He wonders why people have driven animals such as the dodo into extinction. I try to be a good father and relieve him from the burden of worrying about historical events, and I explain that the people who did those atrocities acted as per the values and culture of the time. I tell him that back then, dark skinned people were not considered people; non Christians were not considered people; animals were considered soul less beings; etc. But I add that today we are different because we know better.
That is what I tell him. Me, I like to think that I would have been above standard. I’d like to think that if I were a German, I would save Jews. If I was a white plantation owner, I would set my black slaves free. Because I’m that kind of a guy, you know. I’m a good guy. I like to be able to look myself in the mirror.
Clearly, I’m deluding myself.
Fast forward the tape a century or two forward, and consider what future generations will think of ours. Forget about global warming; they would file us in the same folder we file the executors of human genocide for a crime that takes place everywhere, all the time, without much of a whisper from any but a select few. I am talking about our handling of domesticated animals.
Consider what we are doing to them. We constrict them in tight ghettos, make them live their entire lives with hardly an option to move, force them to live in their faeces, separate mother from child, and then kill them in well engineered mass production facilities so that we can enjoy their meat. Every year, billions of animals are butchered this way after living short and incredibly miserable lives so that we can have a good meal. What is this if not genocide?
I am a product of my time. Try as I may to reduce my consumption of meat, milk and eggs, I find it all but impossible not to be seduced by the aroma of bacon or the lure of cheesy pizza.
So tell me again, in what way am I better than those slave owners of yonder?