Animaux et Religions Abrahamiques

J’ai souvent dit aux religieux, avec qui j’ai eu l’occasion de d’aborder ce sujet, de voir le documentaire A Sacred Duty (version avec sous-titres sur YouTube, voir plus bas). Je reprendrais désormais les citations ci-dessous, de Marguerite Yourcenar et de l’archevêque Desmond Tutu, face à certaines défenses d’abus des animaux.

L'oeil vert d'un carnivore et texte: L'homme est l'espèce la plus insensée - il vénère un Dieu invisible et massacre une Nature...
L’oeil vert d’un carnivore et texte: L’homme est l’espèce la plus insensée – il vénère un Dieu invisible et massacre une Nature visible, sans savoir que cette Nature est ce Dieu invisible qu’il vénère — Hubert Reeves

“J’ai été témoin de la façon dont l’injustice est effacée quand elle est à l’encontre des victimes vulnérables et sans pouvoir, quand celles-ci n’ont personne pour faire entendre leurs voix et aucun moyen de se représenter au pouvoir. Les animaux sont précisément dans cette position. Si nous ne sommes pas attentifs à leurs intérêts et si nous ne parlons pas pour eux à haute voix, l’abus et la cruauté se seront pas contrés.” Desmond Tutu – The Global Guide to Animal Protection

Il y avait dans le christianisme tous les éléments d’un folklore animal presque aussi riche que celui du bouddhisme mais le dogmatisme et la priorité donnée à l’égoïsme humain l’ont emporté. Il semble que sur ce point un mouvement supposé rationaliste et laïque, l’humanisme, au sens récent et abusif du mot, qui prétend n’accorder d’intérêt qu’aux réalisations humaines, hérite directement de ce christianisme appauvri, auquel la connaissance et l’amour du reste des êtres ont été retirés.

Ce qui me paraît importer, c’est de posséder le sens d’une vie enfermée dans une forme différente. C’est déjà un gain immense de s’apercevoir que la vie n’est pas incluse seulement dans la forme en laquelle nous sommes accoutumés à vivre, qu’on peut avoir des ailes au lieu de bras, des yeux optiquement mieux organisés que les nôtres, au lieu de poumons des branchies. Ensuite il y a le mystère des migrations et des communications animales, le génie de certaines espèces […] Et puis, il y a toujours pour moi cet aspect bouleversant de l’animal qui ne possède rien, sauf la vie, que si souvent nous lui prenons.

Marguerite Yourcenar (qui, visiblement, était aussi consciente que le lait est issu de l’exploitation des vaches)

J’aurais commencé par citer Al-Ma’arri si je parlais d’arabes végétalien-n-e-s mais parmis les sites musulmans je n’ai trouvé que ce blog marocain, deux sites en anglais dans mon article précédent – à noter que je fonctionne nettement plus en tant qu’anglophone sur les réseaux sociaux, comme sur la toile; voilà des années que le français n’est plus ma première langue.

Animals and Abrahamic Religions

I often refer religious folks to documentary A Sacred Duty and I’ll now remember these quotes by Marguerite Yourcenar and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Original quotes (I translated these from) by Yourcenar will be in the next post.

“I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu – The Global Guide to Animal Protection

There were all the elements of an animal folklore, almost as rich as that of Buddhism, in Christianity but dogmatism and the prioritising of human selfishness took over. It seems that a movement allegedly rationalist and secular, humanism, in the recent and abusive sense of the word, which pretends to be concerned only about human realisations inherited from this watered-down christianity from which knowledge and love for other beings have been removed.

What, to me, seems to matter is to have the concept of life enclosed in a different form. It is an immense gain if we can realise that life exists not only in the form we experience, that one can have wings instead of arms, optically more sophisticated eyes, gills instead of lungs. Then there is the mystery of migrations and communication between animals, the genius of certain species […] Then there is always, I think, the moving fact that an animal possesses nothing but their life that, too often, we snatch from them.

Marguerite Yourcenar

There’s a number of specifically vegan muslim communities on facebook in English, Arabic or both. Otherwise see this section of the IVU website among others and this blog which speaks of veg*nism. Easter 2014 edit: see this discussion on Christ and Buddha at Sistah Vegan. I’m reminded of Yourcenar’s quote but I’m not familiar with the religions or texts.

Note: I have linked the blog for those who may be interested but can’t see the above documentary.

Animals and Hinduism

This is technically part 2 of this Animals and Religions series. I never thought BUAV’s association with religious organisations looked potentially effective, curious to see the impact the new video [neither captioned nor subtitiled, previously embedded here, something happened where my blog replaced it with a sega, so look for Vanaron ka Udhaar] will have, perhaps song is the best medium to carry the message to Hindus? I had met the vet involved in monkey breeding, a Hindu, who came to a ‘debate’ to defend the monkey trade and call anyone who didn’t support it terrorists. There was otherwise no apathy at the event but it’s disheartening to witness the levels of individual apathy concerning absolutely every issue here (by most, not only religious folks).

An example of this apathy may well be reflected in comments to the video on YT: One comenter said ‘May Hanuman help [the monkeys]’. Will people help them too? In a country far from secular, one could think this ‘trade’ shouldn’t be happening? We need to help raise awareness, help bring a stop to this. When politicians use religious and cultural places as their personal platform, I wish religious leaders who have pledged support to BUAV would confront them on the monkeys’ behalf but it seems unlikely.

Whether or not one is inspired by the ancient epic where Hanuman is a character, bottomline: hinduism claims to preach ahimsa. What actually happens in our lives and everyday life is anything but. Arguably himsa is a defining trait of our world but Hindus go over and above that. Should temples and monasteries not at least quit dairy when they have cow vigilantes killing for the meat that results from dairy, or rumours? And shouldn’t they tell that animal testing entails false claims that it is potentially helpful when it is actually harmful? Are they telling people that animal reseach is scientifically unsound? No they rather encourage the drinking of cow urine for alleged health benefits. Just as well they stay silent, when people have been brainwashed to be skeptical of even the few scientists who can speak about this openly without repercussions (funding issues or worse)? Are Hindus reminding people that most detergents on sale in this country involve pointless and cruel tests on animals? It’s extra relevant, people shower and wear clean clothes specifically to attend a Hindu ritual or go to the temple.

Many people go on religious pilgrimage to India regularly and because of the demographics most Mauritians surely know a relative, neighbour or friend who goes there. The culture here is such that one may ask for purchases one cannot find or find as cheaply here, usually these entails jewellery and traditional clothing, in Tamil or Marathi regions, and Benares and so on, mostly silk – cruel silk, and in what conditions were the gold or stones mined (emphasis on pilgrimage!)?

Ahimsa by the way was borrowed from Jainism. “There are a number of animal sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas such as mantras for the sacrifice of a Goat in the Rig, the Horse sacrifice and the Human sacrifice in the Yajur, whilst in the Jyotistoma three animal-sacrifices are performed. The Yajurveda is considered the Veda of sacrifices and rituals, and consists of a number of animal sacrifices, such as mantras and procedures for the sacrifices of a white goat to Vayu, a calf to Sarasvati, a speckled Ox to Savitr, a Bull to Indra, a castrated Ox to Varuna and so on. During the rule of the Buddhist king, Ashoka Maurya, an edict was passed and from then on, social reaction with regard to the sacrificial (brahmanas) texts can be traced. A reaction against these sacrifices came from the Charvakas, who documented their criticism in the Barhaspatya sutras in the 3rd century BCE.” See Ahimsa, vegetarianism and other food customs. Ghee is considered food and fuel for the privileged hindu castes. Ghee is even used for burning sacred lamps in South African hindu monasteries that run on donations (and while it is a product of murder of a calf and immense suffering). They claim it makes the light soothing.

Ambedkar said in 1936 that ghee is something untouchables were to stay away from.

“The main battle is not the Mahabharata, but the fight between Krishna and Jarasandha who is killed by Krishna. Ultimately, the Pandavas and Balarama take renunciation as Jain monks and are reborn in heavens, while on the other hand Krishna and Jarasandha are reborn in hell. In keeping with the law of karma, Krishna is reborn in hell for his exploits (sexual and violent) while Jarasandha for his evil ways. Prof. Jaini admits a possibility that perhaps because of his popularity, the Jain authors were keen to rehabilitate Krishna. The Jain texts predict that after his karmic term in hell is over sometime during the next half time-cycle, Krishna will be reborn as a Jain Tirthankara and attain liberation. Krishna and Balrama are shown as contemporaries and cousins of 22nd Tirthankara, Neminatha. According to this story, Krishna arranged young Neminath’s marriage with Rajamati, the daughter of Ugrasena, but Neminatha, empathizing with the animals which were to be slaughtered for the marriage feast, left the procession suddenly and renounced the world.” Jain version of Mahabarata. While I can’t elaborate in this post, I must add: the concept of karma is an oppressive tool (inherently an excuse to condone violence or apathy or the caste system).

The Killing of Marius the Giraffe Was Easily Avoidable

Dylan Powell

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The internet is lighting up with outrage today upon news that the Copenhagen Zoo – a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums  (WAZA) – have publicly staged the killing, dissection and lion feeding of a young giraffe named Marius which they had declared “surplus.” The 18 month old giraffe was approaching maturity and the Zoo claimed that he was excess as his breeding would have complicated blood lines at the zoo.

Within a short period of time a petition circulated with over 25,000 signatures, international media coverage erupted and there are reports of last ditch efforts by other zoos to offer re location. Other simple options – like neutering Marius – were deemed “inhumane” by the Copenhagen Zoo who in that situation would have had to feed and shelter an animal that could not grow their “stock.”

News of Marius’s death travelled fast via social media with…

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Angela Davis on a revolutionary perspective

I wonder why Hochschartner didn’t link the transcript from the 27th Empowering Women of Color Conference in his article which is basically a series of quotes from Angela Davis. Oddly he linked the wrong blog when quoting Dr.Davis again from a blogpost with video A. Breeze Harper uploaded. Hochschartner is a rubbish writer and uses ‘blind’ as a slur, but what to do, the existing talk and Q&A are getting more attention just because he writes for money, or something. Is there a bias that perhaps gets put on hold from reading a non-vegan publication or one that has a version that costs money? Here are the quotes (not a rehash of his article) from “On Revolution: A Conversation Between Grace Lee Boggs and Angela Davis”, part of the 27th Empowering Women of Color Conference, ‘A Holistic Approach: Justice, Access and Healing’.

“I usually don’t mention that I’m vegan but that has evolved, I think it’s the right moment to talk about it because it is part of a revolutionary perspective – how can we not only discover more compassionate relations with human beings but how can we develop compassionate relations with the other creatures with whom we share this planet and that would mean challenging the whole capitalist industrial form of food production. It would mean being aware – driving up the interstates or driving down the 5, driving down to LA, seeing all the cows on the ranches,” she stated. “Most of people don’t think about the fact they’re eating animals. When they’re eating a steak or eating chicken, most people don’t think about the tremendous suffering that those animals endure simply to become food products to be consumed by human beings. I think the lack of critical engagement with the food that we eat demonstrates the extent to which the commodity form has become the primary way in which we perceive the world,” she said. “We don’t go further than what Marx called the exchange value of the actual object- we don’t think about the relations that that object embodies- and were important to the production of that object, whether it’s our food or our clothes or our iPads or all the materials we use to acquire an education at an institution like this. That would really be revolutionary to develop a habit of imagining the human relations and non-human relations behind all of the objects that constitute our environment.”

At a talk Dr. Davis gave, in response to a question from Dr. Harper: “I don’t talk about this a lot but I’m going to do this today because I think it’s really important. The food we eat masks so much cruelty. The fact that we can sit down and eat a piece of chicken without thinking about the horrendous conditions under which chickens are industrially bred in this country is a sign of the dangers of capitalism, how capitalism has colonized our minds. The fact that we look no further than the commodity itself, the fact that we refuse to understand the relationships that underly the commodities that we use on a daily basis. And so food is like that.”

Dr. Davis suggested the audience watch the film Food, Inc. and added “And then ask yourself, what is it like to sit down and eat that food that is generated only for the purposes of profit and creates so much suffering?”

“I think there is a connection between, and I can’t go further than this, the way we treat animals and the way we treat people who are at the bottom of the hierarchy. Look at the ways in which people who commit such violence on other human beings have often learned how to enjoy that by enacting violence on animals. So there are a lot of ways we can talk about this.”

The 8 White Identities

By Barnor Hesse

There is a regime of whiteness, and there are action-oriented white identities. People who identify with whiteness are one of these. It’s about time we build an ethnography of whiteness, since white people have been the ones writing about and governing Others.

1. White Supremacist
Clearly marked white society that preserves, names, and values white superiority

2. White Voyeurism
Wouldn’t challenge a white supremacist; desires non-whiteness because it’s interesting, pleasurable; seeks to control the consumption and appropriation of non-whiteness; fascination with culture (ex: consuming Black culture without the burden of Blackness)

3. White Privilege
May critique supremacy, but a deep investment in questions of fairness/equality under the normalization of whiteness and the white rule; sworn goal of ‘diversity’

4. White Benefit
Sympathetic to a set of issues but only privately; won’t speak/act in solidarity publicly because benefitting through whiteness in public (some POC are in this category as well)

5. White Confessional
Some exposure of whiteness takes place, but as a way of being accountable to POC

    after

; seeks validation from POC [person of colour]

6. White Critical
Take on board critiques of whiteness and invest in exposing/marking the white regime; refuses to be complicit with the regime; whiteness speaking back to whiteness

7. White Traitor
Actively refuses complicity; names what’s going on; intention is to subvert white authority and tell the truth at whatever cost; needed to dismantle institutions

8. White Abolitionist

Changing institutions, dismantling whiteness, and not allowing whiteness to reassert itself

The introduction was missing before, I forget where I got it but it was also on an image like where I found the intro – an always interesting tumblr, twitter or WP to follow.

Content note: examples of non-black prejudice. There could be a parallel list for anyone who benefits from anti-blackness, personally or through the system. In Mauritius (as in Rodrigues and Agalega, it’s the Abolition of Slavery day), when it comes to anti-blackness, most people of colour, parts of ethnic groups even mixed-black, would also oppressive. White supremacy in spite of a minority white population does not surprise anyone, and there is ethnic, class and caste supremacy too. I went to a non-black POC dermatologist the other day who asked seemingly weird questions to my non-black POC dad, to determine that he could then rant about how our hometown is today and reminisce the good(not!) old days where the town was white managed and surrounded by ‘cités’, which remains the Mauritian equivalent of shantytowns, where the white people’s black employees stayed. That situation was better according to the racist doctor (who grew up in a privileged area there, before Independence). Our older doctors have usually studied in Europe, well, just to illustrate with an example. Another is the denial (tacit or not) that race has anything to do with the fact that just in the past few weeks (April 2015 edit), there has been rapes (and a murder) of a 13-yr old and an 11yr-old black girl from the ‘cités’. People blame poverty, not systemic violence, they don’t realise they hear of a few compared to many unreported cases. Even with that age group, I’ve seen educated liberals say, on sharing the news, that they hope it’s not true. Never ever say that, more so to/about a very young black girl!