Compassion is a Theme in my 2008 Novel, and it’s Why I’m Voting YES on Prop 2 in California

Yes on Prop 2

You may wonder what this post has to do with art, writing or music, and why I am mentioning this issue on my artist blog. Some of you know that I’m involved in writing my eighth novel, in part for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Well, there is a connection; when I write novels, I approach each one differently, but what they all have in common is that I usually begin with a theme in mind, or maybe more than one theme. Each novel is about something, even if that theme is subtle, illusive, or woven into the characters’ actions and dialogue. This year, I’ve only written 3,603 words so far, but a theme I am beginning to see emerging is compassion, and how it can be defined differently by different people in different situations. One person’s idea of compassion might even be the opposite of another person’s in a given set of circumstances.

We don’t like to think too hard about where our food comes from, especially if it involves live animals. Our modern society has made most of us feel so far removed from how we get food that some of the horrors of factory farming are not known to us. When I saw some of the heart-rending videos of animals being crushed, left half-dead and suffering on conveyor belts, crammed into tiny cages and chained so that they cannot even lie down, stand up completely, or turn around and stretch their limbs, I’ll be honest—I cried. I can’t even look at some of those videos or pictures now.

When I first truly grasped how some of the cows, calves, pigs, chickens, lambs, ducks, turkeys and other animals I was eating were being treated—even egg-producing hens—I felt like I was looking at Auschwitz for animals. I responded by becoming a vegetarian for several years, until my doctor told me I wasn’t eating enough protein or getting some other essential nutrients I needed—but that was my fault. I was always in a hurry, overly busy, and I wasn’t taking enough time to learn how to prepare food properly and eat a well balanced vegetarian diet. That was also a few decades ago, and properly balanced, nutritious and delicious foods that don’t contain meat products are much more accessible now.

In the years since I resumed eating meat, but haven’t felt right about it, I have gradually eliminated one animal at a time from my diet, starting with veal, foie gras, and some of the most egregiously produced food products. Later, I cut down gradually on steaks and roast beef, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, lamb, pork (including ham, and yes, bacon), rabbit, and lobster. Now, I’m trying to eat mostly “free range” poultry and even cut back on all poultry. I still love eggs and cheese, but I’d rather eat “organic” eggs, especially after seeing how egg-producing chickens are treated on large, factory farms. The conditions in which animals are kept in these facilities are not only incredibly barbaric, but also, unsanitary. Consequently, many of them are given large doses of antibiotics—and those go into our bodies when we consume meat or eggs. We know it is not good for us to consume antibiotics when we don’t need them—that has been documented in a number of medical studies.

I know not everyone is going to become a vegetarian, and let’s face it, buying all “free range,” organic food products that are grown on small, more humane family farms takes a lot more work and often costs more than just buying the most common brands of factory farm meat products and eggs that are conveniently available at your local supermarket or fast food places. So, if we can’t prevent everyone from eating meat and eggs, let’s at least do the minimum to provide the animals involved with a slightly more decent life than they have now. Proposition 2 provides some important relief, such as requiring farmers and meat breeders to give animals adequate space to at least stand up, lie down and turn around in their cages and pens, and it provides some other, more sanitary measures for keeping egg-laying hens less cooped up, so they are not surrounded by their own waste. I know this sounds disgusting—and it is. If you find out the facts about how some of your food is produced, it might make a real difference in your choices.

Read about Proposition 2, the Fact Sheets, and which organizations endorse YES on Prop 2, which includes nearly all the most reputable humane and veterinary organizations in the United States and California, as well as the leading newspapers. You’ll find that the people who oppose Prop 2 are those in the industry who want to raise your food prices and are willing to continue making animals suffer in the most cruel ways to increase profits. Then, let compassion light your way—and vote for California Proposition 2, please. The animals can’t represent themselves here, so we have to speak out for them. VOTE YES on Prop 2.

You’ll also find another post on this blog that involves using both compassion and logic, and that’s to VOTE NO on Prop 8 in California. I also mentioned it here. The moral of my story is…vote with your heart as well as your head. In my opinion, we need to bring compassion to whatever we do in this life.

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