Saturday, October 16, 2004

In the Locker Room, Part II

Sweet Handsome Bastard TomCat
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.

In addition to the sweaty, stinky dance of disrobing I'm forced to perform with Barbie most Tuesdays and Thursdays in the gym's locker room, there's another reason I'm changing my locker location: the flyers on the shelf just adjacent, where I park my towel and shampoo. Most days there's good stuff--voting pamphlets, old "People" magazines, postcards for upcoming theatrical performances. But one or more denizens of this locker room is involved in animal rights, so brochures for PETA and AAVS appear regularly too.

I absolutely support these organizations, and I'm glad there are people who have the determination to further these issues. But many times the publications use very graphic photos, and it upsets me tremendously. (While wine-tasting one day last year, I came across Pit's Letter at Roshambo Winery and was devastated for two days.) Vivisection and factory farming are just pits of cruelty and torture, and the idea that most people think it's just fine is also upsetting. How can people of good conscience perpetuate these practices? While there may be instances when scientific experimentation is necessary, surely it can be reduced to minimal levels.

I think what bothers me the most is the idea of utter helplessness, with no possible opportunity for deliverance. (Why animals and not people? Don't get me wrong, my heart aches for human suffering as well. But everyone agrees it's wrong and should be stopped--the same cannot be said for animal suffering.) Sometimes, when I rub my dog's belly or when my cat lolls on his back in sun, I can't help but imagine them on a surgical table, in pain, dying slowly and miserably. For some reason, when I feel stressed out (like lately), these images haunt me, keep me awake. I also can't push away feelings of self-loathing for not doing something about it--but I would lead a life filled with despair. I simply don't have the courage to confront these issues in a constructive, personal way on a regular basis.

I'm not sure if reincarnation is what happens when we die, but occasionally I find comfort in the thought that the animals being tortured alive might contain the souls of those who have previously tortured others. But in my heart I suspect there is no justice in the after-life (there may not even be one)--and the randomness makes it all the more heartbreaking.


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