When I was a young child I loved joining my mother when she went out to buy groceries in the near supermarket store. In the middle of the shopping space there was a shallow metal pool where I loved taking my time and joyfully watch the carp fish that swam inside. Even as a meat eating child I had difficulties in understanding the purpose of this attraction inside the supermarket, nor did I connect the uneasy, almost forced smile of my mother, who insisted that we move on, to the fate of these fish.
The day I understood the purpose of that pool came later on when I was a little older and my parents sent me there by myself in order to buy bread for my school’s sandwiches. Standing in line before me was an elderly woman who held one of these fish, wrapped in paper, in her hand. The fish jumped suddenly, struggling to breathe and save himself from suffocating. The woman lifted the fish in the air and slammed him harshly on the counter. The fish stopped moving. So did I for a while.
You may already know this picture of a sign that asks you at what age did you lose your compassion. Personally, I do not think that this is the precise description of our problem in observing our world. I will be more accurate. It will be a complete waste of time trying to find compassion in places such as the slaughterhouse, for instance, but most people still have compassion in their hearts. That compassion is a feeling that some corporate bodies and people of influence who profit from animal torture need to tame for their need. Compassion has to survive within us so there is order and so that we can keep our peace of mind as beings who consider themselves moral and ethical. But this compassion also has to shift from the realistic line subjects to the virtual line so it does not interfere with our chosen, exploiting way of life.
The compassion towards the fish changes into the compassion towards the smiling fish logo on top of a seafood restaurant. A smiling cow sells dairy products and a strong bull symbolizes (at least here in Israel) a hamburger meal. Not many publishers would suggest that we will show empathy towards a drawing of a fisherman, butcher or dairy farmer as a logo of a business that profits from suffering yet willing to project integrity. Instead, most of our compassion is directed towards the animals, and a drawing of a happy cow will do a much better job than a photo of a real cow being tortured and slain for her meat.
This conversion of the enslaver and the victim can also be found on the sly brand that is titled “Freedom Eggs”. I am adding a photo we took in Israel, but I think you can relate to it wherever you live. We do not see a photograph of the people who imprison the chickens, or of real chicken living on green grass (because there are no such chickens), but instead we see poor graphics which mixes a clean image of a chicken and a composition of a green field. This lie is yet another example of how the business of the self proclaimed “Freedom eggs” has to fall in line with the general agenda by which affection towards animals has to move into the virtual and the theoretical, and never to the real animals who are prisoners of these businesses.
Finally, the organization ILAF (Israeli lab animal forum), which supports experiments on animals, is a more extreme example in my opinion. Since we don’t enjoy the death of lab animals directly as we do in the meat industry, for instance, and as this close forum is directed towards scientists who participate in these experiments, I find it even stranger that they have a smiling rabbit in their logo. Be it a product of self deceit or a total lack of self awareness, for some reason these people chose the smiling rabbit over, let’s say, a smiling child that has recovered from a disease. After all this is propaganda, and as such it needs to touch our deepest feelings and hidden affections, those that made us respect our companions in this world. Once, when we were young children.