What Goes Around Comes Around
by Will Tuttle, Ph.D
One of the fundamental ideas found throughout the world's religions and
emphasized by spiritual teachers of many times and cultures is that in the
big picture we inevitably reap what we sow. We are all connected, after
all, and to the degree we love, give to, and bless others, we will
ourselves experience being loved, given to, and blessed. The same is true
of harming and using others. This idea has gone by many names, including
karma and the Golden Rule, and in our culture it's usually been applied to
our relations with people, but not with animals because, well, we've been
raised to believe that animals don't matter much.
We're learning, though, that animals - particularly the food animals we
slaughter by the billions - are profoundly capable of physical and
emotional suffering, and in light of this, it's remarkable to see how our
mistreatment of them boomerangs back to us, just like the old "as you sow,
so shall ye reap" adage would predict.
For example, we pump huge quantities of drugs into millions of defenseless
animals, and as a culture we find ourselves experiencing drug abuse, drug
dependence, and all the perils of living in a society increasingly drugged
with both medical prescriptions and illicit substances. We force farmed
animals to live in extremely polluted environments, breathing noxious air,
living in their own waste, and eating contaminated feed, and we find
ourselves living increasingly in our own waste as our air becomes more
polluted and our water and food are increasingly contaminated.
Looking further, we can see the chickens coming home to roost in virtually
every aspect of our shared cultural reality: we force food animals into
cages, and we find that more and more of us live in gated communities,
behind bars and locks, or in prisons, with prison construction being one
of the biggest growth industries in America today. We torture them by the
millions and we find Amnesty International reporting that human torture of
other humans is at an all-time high. Forcing horror on animals, we find
horror in the mass media and in popular entertainment increasing. As we
kill animals for food at a young age, we find child and teen suicide
skyrocketing. As we terrorize animals in slaughterhouses and in laboratory
experiments on fear, we find our own chronic fear increasing, along with
terrorism. As we force them to be fat, diseased, overcrowded, afraid, and
stressed out, we become the same.
You can probably think of many more examples. Animals are lined up to be
stabbed, one after another, and in today's high-volume cardiac units,
people who have eaten many animals line up to be stabbed, one after
another. Ultimately, what we do to animals we do to ourselves. Though
animals cannot retaliate like people can, our violence toward them itself
Scientists are hard at work now breeding food animals that will be as
dull, insensitive, and controllable as possible, in order to better
survive the unimaginable pain and stress they are forced to endure on
factory farms. They want to create animals with minimal feelings and
awareness, animals born with broken spirits, with no zest for life and
with no purpose other than to serve the ends of their dominators. That
would be good for business. Are these really the seeds we want to be
As a culture, we're called to ponder deeply the wisdom of the Golden Rule
before it's too late, and begin to actually live it with respect to the
animals who are at our mercy. What goes around comes around, and it's
coming around all around us.
Will Tuttle, Ph.D., composer, pianist, and Zen priest, is cofounder of
Karuna Music & Art and of the Prayer Circle for Animals and Circle of
Veggie Jews is an on-line and real world organization with events in local communities dedicated to supporting Jewish vegans and vegetarians of all ages and spreading vegan, vegetarian and animal rights values into the Jewish community. Our non-Jewish friends are always welcome. Please tell a friend about us. We're on the web at www.groups.yahoo.com/group/veggiejews.
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