Letters to the Editor

Farm animals treated as things

In my weekly reading of the Arlington Times I came across an editorial about a chicken who got picked up by a woman studying language in Russia. The woman was hungry, and the chicken was friendly, so she picked it up and took it home to her apartment. Once home, she and her roommate proceeded to try to kill the chicken, starting with drowning, then twisting its neck, then slowly sawing its head off. While this story was obviously meant to be an endearing Christmas story, I found it to be quite telling of our lack of consciousness and downright cruelty to our fellow beings.
While living on a local farm, I had the opportunity to keep 12 chickens. They provided my family with eggs, and I provided them with a clean comfortable home and plenty of grass to spend their days. Chickens dont seem to live very long, and what with natural causes and the neighbors dogs we were down to a single chicken by the end of two years. Rather than live out in the coop where she may have been lonely, this chicken chose to spend her days on the back porch with my dog, and her evenings roosting on some steps in the garage. If you came out and sat on the porch, she would approach you, cooing and clucking, and set up shop right next to you. She was also known to sit on our laps. We gave her the name, The Friendly Chicken.
About a year later she passed away in the night, in her garage roost. I cried when I found her, because she was such a joy to have around the farm. It had been quite a while since she had laid an egg, but her value was worth much more than that. Many people had enjoyed her company. Not long after that I gave up eating meat. I asked myself if I could kill an animal, and, if not, how could I buy the meat in the store? Since then I have been observing the ways that people treat animals.
America is a land of paradox. We have clothing, jewelry and even purses for our pocket sized dogs. Entire aisles of the grocery store are devoted to our pets needs. Yet for some reason farm animals are treated as if they are things, not living beings. I believe that if we took care of our farm animals humanely we would not have mad cow disease, or even some forms of cancer that are affecting our human population.
What we do to others, we do to ourselves. This includes the members of the animal kingdom. Perhaps that woman in Russia was being approached by a friendly chicken one who had been a pet and was used to being treated well by humans. Perhaps she could have kept that chicken and been provided with eggs for some time to come. Quite possibly we can all consider our treatment of the innocents the children and the animals; and ask ourselves if we could be more compassionate. This can only help.
Kara Keating
Director Movement Arts

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