The wonderful folks with Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals (CETFA) are calling for a roadside memorial in Manitoba at a spot where a semi truck crashed and killed 71 cows in January.
CETFA is asking for a sign to be placed at the crash site that reads: "Careless driving costs lives: In memory of 71 cows." The sign would be similar to the memorials created by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) that are placed near places where people died as a result of impaired drivers.
It occurred to me as I read this article that we don't always take time to stop and remember the animals that have died. I'm not talking about our pets, mind you. Most of us have lost a pet that was very near and dear to our hearts, and we take comfort in the idea of a Rainbow Bridge, where our pets play and frolic with other animals.
No, I mean animals like the 71 cows killed in the semi collision. Or the countless animals who've perished in factory farm fires in Canada and the United States during the past decade. Or the millions - ultimately - billions slaughtered by the Animal Murdering Industries (meet, dairy, leather, fur, etc.).
We vegans and animal rights activists stare down into the abyss confront death every single day. Day in, day out. We're surrounded by it. We stare at those animal death counters where the numbers are climbing at an astonishing rate (you know what I mean - "Animals Killed Since You Visited This Website" - those counters). We watch some of the most horrible videos imaginable. We feel sick inside when we see meat wrapped neatly in shrink wrap and styrofoam.
And those of us who love animals, who pray for animals, who want to see the bloodletting and the violence stop, die a little each time when we see these things.
So it's probably asking a lot to think about remembering and memorializing the animals who've died as a result of human violence, especially factory farm animals, fish and other aquatic lives, and fur-bearing beings. How do you mourn thousands? Millions? Billions?
When I grapple with this issue, I think of all the people who toss around numbers of human beings killed when talking about the past. More than 6 million Jews murdered under Hitler. Twenty million Russians killed in World War II. Millions who perished in gulags, famines and purges under Stalin. It all becomes miles to Pluto.
How do we put a human face on the millions? How do we put an animal face on the billions?
I look at the bottom of my blog page: 59 billion land and sea animals, murdered for Americans alone in 2009 (Source).
How do you mourn each one of those animals? Billions. Do you find one animal that is representative of all of them and mourn him or her? Or maybe a few symbolic animals who met such a grim fate?
Should we be mourning the dead? The dead cows? The dead pigs? The dead sheep? There are moments when I'm walking by the meat section in the store and I want to break down and sob. Death is everywhere. It swallows you whole in the meat and fish section of the supermarket.
Is there not a Rainbow Bridge for these animals, where they can frolic and play and have fun in the sun? A place where there are no factory farms, no fishing boats, no canneries and butcher shops? No one to rip away your baby when he or she is only a day old?
I realize I'm only asking questions, and they aren't questions with easy answers. I do know that those of us who have experienced our epiphanies about animals, who have awakened to the horrors, and who have consciously chosen to no longer participate in the mass murder any longer, are haunted far more deeply than those who haven't opened their eyes, who can't feel the suffering and who have no empathy for animals.
We're surrounded by death on all sides of us. Mourning is part of the process of loss. How do you mourn the violent end of so many precious beings?
Maybe Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals has the right idea. It begins with memorializing those 71 cows who met their tragic fate on that highway in the middle of Manitoba.
On the surface, it may not seem like much. But it's a start.