When I composed the “About” page on this blog, which was almost a year ago, I didn’t include the term “animal lover” in some casual fashion. It was not meant as mere biographical filler or an anecdotal tidbit about myself designed to sound cute and make me look like a “feeling person”. It’s a cause that has meant a great deal to me my whole life. I haven’t jumped on the animal rights/vegan/PETA bandwagon only in recent years because Hollywood celebrities have made the cause trendy (which is fine with me anyway). The cause of animal rights runs through my veins. For as far back as I can remember, since early childhood, concern and compassion for animals is something I’ve carried around every single day. I couldn’t divorce myself from it even if I wanted to, which I don’t. It’s inherent to my character, my nature, my humanity. I am one with it. And my heart beats stronger because of it.
I was out with my good friend Fred the other night, and we discussed this issue over some chai tea at Starbucks. I told him that I’d been mulling over the idea of starting a second blog, one devoted to animals and the animal rights cause. But two blogs is a lot of work, and demands a lot of time that I don’t have, unfortunately. I already put a lot of effort into Museworthy, and I would hate to author two blogs and find myself neglecting one over the other. So I was torn about what to do. But Fred, who is a loyal reader of Museworthy and someone who knows me very well, assured me that I could integrate animal issues into Museworthy and that my readers wouldn’t mind one bit. He reminded me that this is still “Claudia’s blog”, and that I shouldn’t worry about straying “off topic” or god forbid publishing a post that doesn’t deal with art, artists, or art modeling. Besides, I happen to know that there are many animal lovers among my readers, so no one will shoot me for it (at least I hope not!) :puts on bullet-proof vest:
So please understand that it’s not my intention to be strident and strict about this issue, get on a sopabox, or anything of that nature. What I would like to do, however, is simply share with my readers a couple of very special organizations and books which I hold in very high regard. If you decide to check them out, you might just find your heart enveloped with mercy and compassion, much like I did when I learned about them.
One of my favorite animals is the elephant. I’m in awe of them. They are incredibly intelligent, sensitive, and complex creatures who deserve our respect. I can’t imagine why anyone would abuse an elephant but of course, they do. Here in the United States, in Tennessee of all places, we have the Elephant Sanctuary. A wonderful place that rescues elephants from abuse in circuses, where they are exploited for inane entertainment purposes. The elephants all have a unique personal story and have endured terrible adversity. At the Elephant Sanctuary they are finally given the opportunity to live safe, peaceful, dignified lives, among rolling hills, old-growth forests, and clear ponds.
Another organization I support is the Farm Sanctuary. They have two beautiful locations; one in northern California and one in upstate New York. Livestock animals have it worst of all because they are exempt from animal cruelty laws. They are subjected to treatment that is so cruel it is downright sadistic. While it is easy for people to get indignant and outraged over, say, Michael Vick and his dogfighting, because dogs are our cute, faithful companions, farm animals are the ignored, forgotten souls. They are the slaughtered sentient creatures who die in terror, hung upside down dangling from a conveyor belt, squealing and crying out in a state of fear and confusion. The Farm Sanctuary gives them hope, and provides a humane haven for these passive, docile animals.
The new book by Karen Dawn, Thanking the Monkey is superb. I almost feel like buying one for every person I know. Again, the arguments are not shrill and intolerant. If anything, Karen presents practical choices and understands fully that expecting every human being to adapt major changes in their lives is not necessarily realistic. But for anyone who feels even traces of empathy, or harbors unspoken discomfort over animal abuse, there are alternatives available to them. I can give you one example from my own life. A while back, I was horrified to discover that a major cosmetic company still engages in pointless animal testing that is not only cruel but primitive and idiotic. For years I bought makeup products from this shitty company. When I found out about their barbaric experimentation, I wanted no part of it. So what did I do? Very simple solution. I stopped buying their products. And in doing so I discovered an animal-safe company whose cosmetics I like a lot better anyway! No inconvenience to me at all. The easiest change I’ve ever made in my life. Different makeup, big whoop. Will it save every animal on the planet? Of course not. But it’s something.
Last thing I’d like to share is what I think is probably the best book ever written about animal welfare. And it was written by a political conservative and former speechwriter to President Bush! Never thought one of my favorite books would come from anyone in politics, let alone a conservative Republican. But there it is. The book is Dominion, by Matthew Scully. And it is truly a work of art. There are some passages in that book that stirred my soul (sorry for the cliche, but it’s true). He presents his point of view with such profound humanity, and argues his points with a thoughtful, sensitive, and philosophical wisdom. Great book. If any publication has the potential to “convert” someone, Dominion is it.
“As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields” – Leo Tolstoy
“The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but rather ‘Can they suffer?” – Jeremy Bentham
“If a man aspires toward a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals” – Albert Einstein
“All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?” – Buddha
Thanks for reading everyone 🙂