Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crushed by the Rolling Stone

I have been debating on writing this blog because, if you are like me, some things are just too horrible to bear. It has taken me about two weeks to write this because this blog might have a two-fold effect: one positive and one negative. The positive effect is that you will read the article in question, and the negative effect is that you will read the article in question.

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article in Rolling Stone magazine about a number of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan who went on a killing spree. Earlier this year when the shootings took place in Arizona and Australia was hit with major floods, I went on a hiatus from reading the news as sometimes it is so incredibly disturbing that I can’t sleep.

But when I saw this article in Rolling Stone, I thought, as I often do, that I need to have a good understanding about the horrors that the U.S. military (among our other entities) perpetuates against innocent people – aside from the war we ravage against them.

Admittedly I was not completely prepared for the physical and emotional reaction I would have. The images of the bloody body of the fifteen-year-old child who was murdered were chilling. Though when I got to the pictures of the soldiers (despicable, murderous psychopaths) posing with the young boy’s body as if he were a deer killed in a hunt, I had to stop, as my stomach was sick and I was short of breath.

I had viewed these images while at work, and I had to step outside the office to get some air. All I wanted to do was go home and cry. At the same time, I had to question why I looked at those images. And why did some bother me so much more than others?

I knew why I looked at the images. For the same reasons that I investigated factory farms, slaughterhouses and auction houses: the need to bear witness. The need to speak with some authority and, of course, the need to understand…or at least try to.

It took me a while to really analyze myself – my stronger reaction of the humans involved who perpetuated the savage act– the undeniable, unbearable acceptance of our utter cruelty. For some reason having the killers there made it unavoidable to accept how despicable we as a species can be. Filming pigs, chickens, ducks and cows in factory farms was difficult, but watching the majestic and beautiful black Angus slip at the auction house was painfully intense. It was hard to see a huge, strong animal fall and have some idiot poke and prod at him to get him to stand. The human participates in this act. Or to watch the ducks at the slaughterhouse struggle to upright themselves as they have been shackled upside down. The people there were hanging them, watching them.

These soldiers, murderers in Afghanistan, took delight in their killing spree. Like some serial killers, they took pieces of the bodies of their victims.

Sigh…. I write this knowing I have no solutions, and the only thought that I can cling to is relishing the fact that I can’t understand this--that I can’t relate to it-- and I am proud of that. That this type of wickedness is beyond my comprehension.

Thankfully, many of you reading this are on the other side of the wretched coin I saw exhibited in Rolling Stone – you, like me, are doing what you can to turn the tide. To expose these types of horrific acts and do what we can to end them.

Reading the article left me feeling a bit powerless and in anguish. I guess that is why so much of my energy is spent working on issues that I know I, and we together, can have a positive impact on. After spinning in my mind on how to fix the military – I decided it was a bigger task than I was capable of.

Kind of like when I was younger and overwhelmed with apartheid in South Africa, animal suffering, war and the death penalty. I realized that with certain issues – not eating animals and at the time honoring the boycott of grapes (on behalf of the farm workers)— I could do my part.

It’s not too difficult a task to not contribute to the slaughtering of animals for food, to encourage others to not buy “meat,” eggs and dairy, to work for justice for farm workers and an end to slavery in the chocolate industry – these are relatively simple ways we can all help to make the world a better place.

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