“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world: my own government, I can not remain silent.” April 4th, 1967.
Martin Luther King
More often than not these days when trying to write something for this group I am stumped with little coming to mind. Perhaps in part this is due to my having exhausted my “story”. And to be sure these days at my age I find myself doing many fewer things that might be worthy of repeating to anyone.
However, with this topic as I have pondered it over the past week I am struck with how many things actually do come to mind to write about. This may be related to the fact that through cable news, the Internet and social media in particular all manner of bad crap from the world over is continually barraging us and much of it is tear inducing.
I am a believer though that we live in the best of times and the worst of times. Not falling for a false romanticizing of ages gone by I do believe that for most of Earth’s people things were much worse in the not so distant past. Much work of course remains to be done however. I hope for worldwide Democratic Socialism and the death of Capitalism. That will require great effort, much more than just a Resist t-shirt, the occasional demonstration or a bumper sticker. To quote Oscar Wilde on the difficulty of the individual effort involved in creating change: “Socialism is great but it takes up too many evenings”.
Thinking about my own tears I am aware that it seems much easier for me to cry these days than it did several decades ago. For me the years 1985-1995 in particular were filled with so much death and suffering that perhaps I had become numb and immune to it and stopped being able to muster any tears. The death of my partner David in 1995 from AIDS related issues did however break the dam open and the tears began to flow again. Are the most genuine and painful tears always personal?
Now it seems I can cry around a whole variety of issues. Things I see on TV often trigger tears. Rescues of abandoned pets or animal shelter adoptions that go well that are dutifully recorded on video and most often posted to Facebook prompt the waterworks.
Seeing people return to there burned out homes in California is particularly tear inducing. Also footage of refugees in boats is almost always a trigger for tears. The cholera epidemic in Yemen fueled in no small part by U.S. support of the Saudi inflicted violence raining down on that country is a very sad case in point and speaks directly to King’s statement above.
I was though most recently brought to tears reading a piece by Glenn Greenwald he had posted to the Intercept (the intercept.com):
It is a multilayered and long story that is a very difficult read because of the content and the numerous photos of pigs being horribly abused in a factory farm in Utah. It is the story of two rescued piglets named Lilly and Lizzie and the draconian measures carried out by the FBI at the behest I assume of the factory farm in Utah that breeds and slaughters over a million pigs a year.
The piglets were rescued by an animal rights group called Direct Action Everywhere: https://www.directactioneverywhere.com
The FBI was enlisted to track down the piglets since animal rights activists on occasion have been designated as terrorists and numerous states now have AG-GAG laws which criminalize whistleblowers photographing and exposing the horrors of America’s factory farms. Good news on this front is that Utah’s AG-GAG law was recently ruled unconstitutional based on the First Amendment by a Federal judge. Stay tuned however since the First Amendment is under attack from many corners these days, very possibly including the Supreme Court.
So your tax dollars were at work when a caravan of FBI agents accompanying a veterinarian descended on an animal sanctuary in Erie Colorado to collect DNA samples from the suspected escapees Lilly and Lizzie even though the sanctuary itself had nothing to do with the piglets’ liberation. As of this writing Lilly and Lizzie are thought to be safe and both have recovered nicely from their horrific beginnings.
So for me I guess my tears are often painful but cathartic. But is crying about anything ever enough?
I don’t want to end on a preachy note but oh well what the hell. Addressing the carnage in Yemen will require many necessary evenings of activism, sorry Oscar, but helping Lilly and Lizzie and their millions of kin is much easier: just quit putting so much animal product in your mouth.