When I watch shows like Yellowstone and The Mother, I see characters that can’t eat something they’ve seen alive. I grapple with how they feel about it because I’ve grown up seeing a sheep become chops. I’ve seen rabbit stew on the dinner table that was running around on the farm the week before. Why is it so hard to understand that all life displaces life? Sharks displace fish as they hunt to survive. Rabbits displace other native Australian mammals as they eat their food source. Mice displace crops we eat. It is all one extensive network, circle of life, chain. Whatever you want to call it, it’s inextricably interconnected.
When did we stop honouring that connection? When did we become a species that thinks they’re above displacement? We are the ultimate parasite on this planet. The very least we can do is give thanks and be grateful for the organisms we displace as we live.
Those that cannot eat an animal that they’ve seen alive, I feel for you. There is an innate beauty in minimising displacement while paying my respects to the animals and plants I eat. I take comfort in the fact that I knew the animal, that I respected it, that I did not let it suffer, that I looked it in the eye and thanked it, soul to soul.
If we continue to look away from life’s reality to minimise feeling the pain of another soul, we will lose everything. Connection is how we thrive. It’s how we learn and grow and become better as a civilisation. The only way that rape, pillage and plunder can occur is without an emotional connection. The second we care, it cannot happen.
Perhaps I’m mistaking an inability to connect with forced reconnection. I know that overwhelming moment comes with feeling the pain of the soul before you. That’s a real thing too. If that pain overwhelms you, please take a moment to think about the farmers who bear that for you so you can eat. Is it right that a small portion of the population should carry that weight? Is it fair that doctors and nurses shoulder the burden of helping our loved ones die comfortably?
Sure, we all have specialised skills. I’m not great at confrontation and negotiation. Most lawyers are highly skilled in this field, and we pay them for it. In the end, it’s about being thankful that someone else can do the things that we can’t. Just because someone can kill an animal and turn it into steaks in a supermarket does not make them a villain. It makes them strong. Strong enough to help feed a planet. Strong enough to feel and not fold under the depth of those feelings.
So please, before you vilify a farmer, hunter, butcher, nurse, teacher or any other living creature, take a moment to consider why you find their actions or profession confronting. Is it them? Or is it you?