Articles From The Writings of Vasu Murti

Both sides now

“How to show her both sides of the political picture?”

At least you believe in presenting balanced information, and letting your daughter form her own views; draw her own conclusions. Conservatives aren’t as reasonable on animal issues, which really ought to be seen as bipartisan rather than progressive.

Recently, someone on AlterNet commented:

“Vegans are the new born-againers…is an all-or-none advocacy the proper way to go? A more reasonable alternative would be to limit meat consumption…”

I responded:

Since you draw an analogy, comparing vegans to born again Christians, I’ll ask:

Both animal activists and pro-lifers see themselves extending rights to an excluded class of beings, and compare themselves to the abolitionists in centuries past.

Would pro-lifers settle for restricting the killing of the unborn and reforming the abortion industry, rather than abolishing the killing of the unborn altogether?

Would pro-lifers settle for limiting abortion to only certain days of the week, or banning it only on holy days, or days of fasting, feasting, penance, etc.?

Can pro-choicers give the possible rights of the unborn a fair hearing, and then dismiss them with an “okay…”, a promise not to disrespect the pro-life position, but without promising to protect the unborn, either?

Can pro-choicers exempt themselves from any moral duties or obligations to the unborn by citing biblical sound bites (often out of context) like II Corinthians 12:8-9. where Paul claims the risen Jesus told him three times, “my grace is sufficient for thee…”

Can pro-choicers dismiss concern for the right to life of the unborn as “good works”, the way born again Christians often dismiss the animals’ right to life, failing to see animal issues as central to their faith, as they now view the right to life of the unborn?

“God’s second-best…” ?!

Can pro-choicers pay lip service to protecting the unborn by acknowledging it as a biblical moral ideal, similar to Genesis 1:29, but that after the Flood, we live in a fallen world, and the common aren’t expected to live by a higher standard?

St. Filippo Neri, for example, spent his entire life protecting and rescuing other living creatures. Born in Florence in 1515, he went to Rome as a young man and tried to live as an ascetic.

He sold his books, giving away the money to the poor. He worked without pay in the city hospital, tending to the sick and the poor. He gave whatever he possessed to others.

St. Filippo loved the animals and could not bear to see them suffer. He took the mice caught in traps away from people’s homes and set them free in the fields and stables.

A vegetarian, he could not endure walking past a butcher shop. “Ah,” he exclaimed, “If everyone were like me, no one would kill animals!”

Can pro-choicers likewise say being pro-life is not an ordinary ethic the general mass of people are expected to follow, but rather the morality of saints and religious reformers: “Ah, if everyone were like me, no one would kill the unborn!”

Can pro-choicers acknowledge abortion as a moral wrong, but then say, “Also, since we are all sinners, we shouldn’t be judgmental…” and leave it at that, and allow the killing of the unborn to continue, as born agains often do with animal issues?

What if it’s necessary to first end the killing of animals before we can end the killing of the unborn? Contemporary Hindu spiritual master Ravindra-svarupa dasa (Dr. William Deadwyler), wrote in a 1979 essay:

“A (spiritually) conscious person will not kill even animals (much less very young humans) for his pleasure or convenience Certainly the unconsciousness that allows us to erect factories of death for animals lay the groundwork for our treating humans in the same way.”

Pro-lifers talk about the “silent screams” of the unborn while ignoring the very real screams of animals.

Their lives don’t count, because they’re not human?

Is that any different from saying, “Their lives don’t count, because they’re not white.”

Opponents of global warming; global hunger; the energy, environmental, population and water crises don’t take it personally when told veganism — ceasing to kill animals — is the solution to their respective crises…especially when the case is made in secular political language, supported with scientific data, etc.

Pro-lifers, on the other hand, react with hostility, even when the case for animal rights is made in biblical theological language, and when the case is made citing the long history of animal advocacy in Christianity.

(And I really don’t understand their reaction! Rosemary Bottcher, past president of Feminists For Life, once stereotyped pro-choicers as cold-blooded utilitarian social engineers, to whom killing is a useful social tool, like trimming hedges. Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation might fall into this stereotype, and he is an atheist. Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of PETA, is an atheist, as is Bill Maher, known for making fun of religious people. You’d think Bible believers, born again Christians, etc. would appreciate the animal rights message being presented to them in familiar terms, by fellow theists.)

The 2007 teen comedy Juno brought the pro-life message to mainstream secular American society. Similarly, a Christian vegan message needs to reach the religious communities.

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