From all-creatures.org
and The Mary T. and
Frank L. Hoffman
Family Foundation

Letter from Ruth About Compassion to All at Easter - 15 Sep 2009

As Easter approaches I would ask you to consider extending your circle of compassion to include ALL living beings. Since Easter celebrates the resurrection of a man of peace and compassion, it is reasonable for these values to be reflected in the Easter celebration. As such a vegetarian would be a true reflection of compassion.

While there are provisions within Christianity for the care and stewardship of animals a more complete version of these provisions could be expanded to include the notion that stewardship should not condone the killing of an animal for consumption. There is an irony inherent in caring for a living being, so that you may kill him for your own use.

Religion exerts a tremendous influence on the lives of its followers and as such should strive to teach the highest and greatest good. When you allow for or endorse the killing of a non-human being for man's use, you fall short of this goal.

Please consider whether the killing of an animal can ever truely be considered compassionate. The larger animals such as pigs and cows suffer terribly at the time of slaughter. They are terrified and in pain.

A vegetarian diet is not incompatible with Christianity. Seventh Day Adventists follow a vegan diet. This has led to greater good both for the practitioners and the animals not killed. Seventh Day Adventists enjoy the healthiest and longest lives of all Americans, proving that it is not necessary to eat meat to survive and thrive.

I would like to present you with an alternate view. The Reverend Andrew Linzey of Oxford University has founded an The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics to explore the philosophy and religion as it relates to compassion for animals.

Reverend Linzey is rooted in the Christian tradition, but has also studied eastern religion, in particular, the Jain religion of India. He has noted that a message of total compassion for the lives of all beings, as practiced by the Jains, has indeed resulted in a greater level of compassion for animals. Please refer to the following and consider whether a message of total compassion can be incorporated into Christian teachings and practises as well:

For there is nothing inaccessible for death. All beings are fond of life, hate pain, like pleasure, shun destruction, like life, long to live. To all life is dear."
- Jain Acharanga Sutra

These words of the venerable Mahavir found in the Acharanga Sutra are some of the profoundest ever found in a religious scripture. They are a result of a tremendous but simple spiritual discovery: all life is holy, sacred or God-given. Life, therefore, has intrinsic values - and all that lives has an interest in living.

To almost all Jains this will sound obvious. But to many in the West, this spiritual realization has been a long time coming. It is true that many religious traditions contain notions of non-violence. The first Buddhist precept is not to kill. The Hebrew Bible speaks eloquently of how the lion will lie down with the lamb. And in Christianity there is the idea that love will finally triumph over violence. But only Jainism has made ahimsa its central doctrine. It alone has consistently held the vision of a peaceable world, realizable by moral effort and spiritual discipline.
- Reverend Andrew Linzey, Professor of Religion, Oxford University.

Thank you for considering my thoughts on this issue. Best wishes for a happy and compassionate Easter,

Ruth Eisenbud