Yesterday, I walked in on a disturbing conversation. The discussion centered around the millions of poultry and hogs drowned due to flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina. The news that day was full of the health hazards posed by potentially toxic hog manure (which contains antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria) making its way into streams, rivers and the Atlantic Ocean, and the mind boggling task of collecting and disposing of all the bodies. The mood in the room was somber, subdued and anxious. “I hear the health department is telling people in Lumberton to boil their drinking water just to be safe,” someone said.
What wasn’t said was what it must have been like for the animals trapped in their cages and pens as the waters rose. The fear, the frantic calls, the desperate attempts to escape – animals scrambling and climbing over one another to shove their snouts and beaks above the water as it rose.
All this was churning around in my guts as I fought back tears. “Those poor animals,” I finally said.
Conversation stopped. It’s not often that we are reminded that a significant portion of our food comes from taking the lives of other creatures. It’s not often that we are reminded that humanity is not a species but a state of mind. I think Antoine de Saint-Exupery said it best when he wrote, “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
We were responsible for the animals that perished in the flooding from Hurricane Matthew, but we let them down, first by treating their lives as disposable commodities, then by abandoning them to die horrific deaths. We knew a full week before the waters rose that animals would die if something wasn’t done, but we did nothing.
I’m sure there are many reasons (financial and practical) why the animals couldn’t be saved. But the fact remains that despite previous experience with hurricanes and flooding, there were no emergency plans in place. We knew something like this was possible, but we chose “business/profits as usual” over the lives of creatures who depended on us.
Today, I am not proud of humanity. Today I am sad and sickened and ashamed of how we’ve behaved. Whatever your beliefs, however you choose to define the spark that fuels your life, know that that same spark burns in all creatures. Our lives are inextricably connected, and what hurts one hurts us all.
So I am going to ask you to do something out of the ordinary. I am going to ask you to take a moment out of your busy day to think of the millions of lives that left our planet this week. Think of them, let yourself feel, and send love. It’s the least and only thing left to do. – Jena Ball
Copyright 2016 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.