By Uttam K. Jain -- Chicago, IL (India Tribune, Nov-27-1999)
Millions of sentient beings cramped into huge metal sheds, purposely kept out of the public eye, imprisoned and in pain, too sick and weak, get their first breath of fresh air when they are removed and packed into the metal crates to be loaded on the truck and then hauled, to the slaughter plant. While at the farm, these beings, created -- by application of artificial methods of feeding and breeding -- with unnaturally enormous weight to profit from such extra flesh, cannot support themselves or hobble to mechanical food or water dispensing facilities. Over 500 million turkeys are bred every year for slaughter in the US.
The horrific living conditions at the farm include: most turkeys being confined in less than three square feet of space and suffering from diseases in filthy and inhumane conditions. Because of their abnormal weight, many die of heart attacks, and many others develop crippling leg and joint disorders. They do not get any medical treatment.
At the slaughterhouse, they are murdered at the rate of 1.4 million birds a day, 58,000 an hour, nearly 1,000 a minute, 16 a second.
The ironic part -- I call it the cruelest part -- is that, after all this horror and carnage, agony and pain, stress and diseaseful living for turkeys, Americans have symbolized the carcass of this domestically mutilated and mutated bird with a national day of gratitude. Who are we thanking on the day of Thanksgiving? Are we thanking the deceased ones for suffering from the inhumane treatment? Or are we thanking some crazy "God" for providing us with innocent and sentient beings to be mercilessly butchered and then buried in the graveyards of human bellies?
And it isn't that only Americans celebrate "Thanksgiving" by consuming turkeys; many of our own brethren migrated from the religious and compassionate nation of the exponents of nonviolence, to name a few Mahavir, Krishna, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, Krishnamurthy, Swami Vivekanand, etc., also do so. Not only that, some even take pride in feeding turkeys to homeless people. I would rather feed an excellent satisfying vegetarian meal, instead.
Cattle, lambs, fish, snakes, frogs, lobsters, shrimps, goats, pigs, etc., go through the same horror before winding up in one's dinner plate. Around the Christmas time, people sit around their dinner table with big hulk of flesh of what used to be a sentient being, praying such as: "Thank you Lord for all the guests, and thank you for the food... And so on..." All beings are protected by God, and so, we are His protectees. While praying and thanking God for the flesh, are we thanking Him for the flesh, are we thanking him for letting us terrorize, torment and finally murder his protectees and then expect that God would bless us?
Another arrogant, ignorant and stupid incidence I remember is a TV advertisement by some carpet store, around Thanksgiving time, wherein the advertiser -- with a live turkey standing next to him -- announces a gift of free turkey sale, the turkey quacks and the advertiser assures the turkey: "Don't worry about it, the sale lasts only three days."
We complain about the prevalent violent atmosphere of crimes in our society and wonder why? Do we ever wonder if our own actions against the innocent members of animal world have any linkage to it? For our horrendous behavior against the innocent lives, should we feel qualified to attain salvation? And we even malign some God by dragging him into this carnage by thanking him! When human insanity gets to go this far -- this far, that, it is considered not only a part of normal life but also something to celebrate -- you can be assured of even greater violence in our lives as we move on. Violence begets violence. With flesh of murdered beings lying in one's belly, neither can he be peaceful nor can he emanate peaceful vibrations towards others. Mahatma Gandhi once said: "The character of a nation can be judged by the way she treats her animals."