I was talking to one of my new neighbours and she asked what I was doing on the weekend. I replied that I was going hunting. She reached over the fence, ‘politely’ slapped me on the shoulder and said, “How could you go and kill animals?” She asked what I was hunting and you could visualise Bambi pushing the emotional response button when I mentioned deer. “How could you? I want my son to grow up appreciating the environment and loving animals,” she said.
I explained that hunting wasn’t ‘just going out and killing things’ and that most of the meat my family eats comes from the wild; that our steak, sausages and mince comes from deer that were wild and free.
I her asked the usual question: “What is the difference between my killing a deer and butchering it to provide meat for my family and you paying an abattoir to kill animals and a butcher to cut it up so you can feed your family?”
“But that’s different,” she said.
“How’s it different?” I asked.
“It’s all right to kill the cattle because they’ve been bred to be killed,” she said.
I thought for a moment and then replied, “So slavery is all right then?” In response to the puzzled look on her face and before she could speak I added, “If they’re bred to be slaves, that is.”
“What’s that got to do with cows?” she shot back at me.
“It’s the same logic,” I replied. “If it’s okay to kill some animals because they were bred to be killed, then slavery must be all right if they were bred to be slaves.”
The almost indignant response to my ‘ludicrous’ statement was “But people aren’t animals!”
Therein lies the crux of the problem. Many people in our highly urbanised way of life have been so far removed and divorced from the reality of our place as a species on this planet that they see humans not as a species of animal, which we are, but rather as being above and different to the other living inhabitants of this planet. People have forgotten that our very existence is reliant on the land, that our very life is dependent on the plants and animals we eat.
In ‘Finding Common Ground’ from A Hunter’s Heart (edited by David Petersen), Richard K Nelson states, “More than anything else, our forgetfulness is created by the supermarket, where we pluck from the shelves processed bits of plants and animals that are hidden inside boxes, cans, and packages - creating the illusion that we can have food without harvest, that life can be maintained without death, that our daily existence is separate from the land, and that we are fundamentally different from all other organisms.”
Getting back to my neighbour, a highly intelligent woman, she told me that she was “realistic” and had explained to her young son that ham and bacon came from pigs and that there are ‘milk’ cows and ‘meat’ cows. And, when driving behind a cattle truck one day, she explained that it contained ‘meat’ cows and they were going to the abattoir and we would eat the meat.
In the end, she acknowledged that her stance was illogical. “But I can’t help it; I just think that it is wrong,” she said.
People have a wonderful ability to disregard what they ‘don’t want to know’ and can ‘justify’ their beliefs even if it defies facts, logic and natural ecology.