True, graphic images and descriptions
of the hidden reality of modern
On February 27, this message
was posted by Wayne Hsiung of Chicago
to Vegan Outreach's Adopt
A College email talk group:
I witnessed a death two days ago.
I am trying my best to get that
image out of my mind, but I'm going
to write about it here in the hopes
that writing will be a catharsis.
An hour before I was planning to
head out to leaflet, a friend of
mine, Dan Dunbar, called me up and
said that he had spotted a stalled
transport truck with a downed dairy
cow inside. I drove out to meet
I arrived to witness a grisly scene.
The poor girl was collapsed on the
ground inside the truck, in a 3-inch-deep
cesspool of feces and urine. You
could see her wide, terrified eyes
staring into nothingness, her entire
body quivering ever so slightly.
But she was making no sounds. The
other cows had trampled her broken
body; she had bloody wounds and
bright red lesions that were clearly
visible through the filth. Her udder
was swollen to many times its normal
size. We noticed a ghastly sliver
of flesh on a gate mechanism above
her. (It was later suggested to
us that this might have been her
tongue. Cows tend to lick the sides
of the truck, in search of moisture,
but when it's a frozen mechanized
gate, that desperate attempt can
have tragic consequences.)
As we stood witnessing this terrifying
scene, the truck driver sat in his
car, on the phone, no doubt cursing
his misfortune, to have two broken
"machines" (the truck,
and the cow) on the same trip. The
other cows had already been removed
to another truck, which left our
poor friend alone in her quiet torment.
In the abstract, we all know about
the billions of individuals suffering
and dying all around us. We all
have seen footage and images from
the concentration camps we euphemistically
describe as "farms." But
nothing has quite the impact as
seeing an innocent die before your
eyes. I've witnessed the tortuous
death of an innocent victim a few
times before, and that is a few
times too many.
HAS to stop.
My friends, this is the enemy. The
fear, the pain, the utter desolation
... our non-human brethren have
done nothing to deserve such a terrible
fate. And yet that fate is cruelly
forced upon them, over and over
and over again ... an endless procession
of torment and death, a procession
that sometimes may seem invincible
Whenever I lose hope for this movement,
whenever I am feeling overwhelmed
by the weight of the oppression
all around us, I just look around
me a bit more carefully. And when
I look a bit more carefully, I see
something different and even beautiful.
I see the inspired stream of emails
coming in from the [Vegan Outreach
Adopt a College email] list. I see
a few dozen people standing on a
frozen Chicago street, calling clearly
for animal liberation. I see a passerby's
pained expression of empathy when
she stops briefly to look at a sign.
And when I see these things, I see
that our enemy can be defeated,
that the holocaust raging all around
us can be stopped, and that our
vision of a just and peaceful world
for all animals can become a reality.
poor friend died that day, on the
filthy floor of a bloody transportation
truck. We witnessed her body go
cold, and her eyes stop moving.
Her entire life had been enslaved
and twisted by violence and prejudice.
But I think that, despite her cruel
death, she had moments of peace
and joy the sweet smell of a new
and unexpected food, the gentle
touch of a rare worker who had not
been desensitized to pervasive industrial
cruelty, or the fresh taste of cool
water on a hot summer day. Of course,
much of her life was torment. That
cannot be denied. But because of
people like you, and because of
brave activists all over the world,
from San Francisco to Chicago to
Amsterdam to Moscow, her torment
will not be forgotten. And some
day soon, those few moments of peace
and joy, that our poor friend experienced
ever so fleetingly, will no longer
be just moments.
All of these thoughts were sifting
through my mind as I headed out
to leaflet a couple hours later
than I had expected. My mood was
somber. I could still visualize,
and indeed feel, the terror in my
poor friend's eyes, as she wallowed,
slowly dying, in torment and filth.
And when I arrived, I looked around:
I was alone on a cold Chicago street.
But I didn't feel alone. Because
I thought of the hundreds of activists
on this very list, the many thousands
who have rallied for the rights
of animals in cities across this
nation, and the millions all over
the world who have spoken and stood
for the rights of oppressed classes,
in a centuries-long struggle for
equality, justice, and freedom.
All of you inspire me. All of you
give me strength. All of you give
me hope. And for all of our superficial
disagreements and differences, for
all of our human pettiness and peccadilloes,
the common vision and passion we
share -- of a just and peaceful
world for all of us on this planet
-- makes me glad and proud to call
each and every one of you a friend,
a friend in the fight for liberation.
As to the leafleting itself? The
traffic was low at Robert Morris
College. I don't remember any interactions
of note, perhaps because I wasn't
my usual self. But at a moment when
I should have been drowning in despair
over the suffering I had witnessed,
isolated on a cold street, facing
an oblivious or outright hostile
public, I did not feel despair.
I felt hope and kinship. And I have
all of you to thank for that.
There will come a day when the animals
are all free. I don't know if it
will happen sooner or later, but
I have no doubt that it will come.
And when that day comes, the world
will look back on our times, gratefully,
for the brave work that you do,
for your passion to stand for those
who cannot stand for themselves,
and most of all, for your hope ...
your hope in a movement where it
is so easy to wallow in despair.
But this email has now gotten much
longer than I had anticipated. So
let me conclude with a quote by
an activist much braver and better
"I come to say to you this
afternoon, however difficult the
moment, however frustrating the
hour, it will not be long...because
THE ARC OF THE MORAL UNIVERSE IS
LONG, BUT IT BENDS TOWARD JUSTICE."
If you are ever in despair or frustration,
remember those words. Dr. King was
right about his movement, and he
will be right, too, about ours.
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