Respect For Life by Greg Calise

 

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This is something to ponder. Each of us has his idea of what this means, to what extreme do we honor all life? For some it means to be a vegetarian, for some, not to kill even an insect. And for others it pertains only to his fellow human beings. And each of them considers his belief to be correct.

From my own personal perspective, I see we are living in a barbaric world, where every body is food for another. We cannot avoid the destruction of life if we expect to live here. Some feel that we should limit it to just our necessities. But what is really necessary? These are just a few questions about life. Was it necessary to drive to your friend’s house, and in the process kill so many bugs on your windshield? A vegetarian may feel superior to a meat eater, but does he consider that plants are also living? They have feelings, intelligence, the ability to communicate and a very advanced memory and ability of recognition. To plant the crops, the forests were cut down, destroying those plants and destroying the natural habitat of so many animals, birds, insects and plants. So where does one draw the line? Is there even a line to be drawn?

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“You fight others all the time for your survival as a separate body-mind, a particular name and form. To live you must destroy. From the moment you were conceived you started a war with your environment—a merciless war of mutual extermination, until death sets you free.”
Nisargadatta Maharaj

It seems whatever we do we are destroying life. Even breathing kills countless microbes. To build a house you must clear the land, and cut down trees for the wood, the manufacturing of concrete and so many building products. So it is impossible to avoid killing.

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Many people advocate a vegetarian diet, as it is less cruel. I prefer not to make your choice for you in such matters. Each body has different needs. Many can exist on a vegetarian diet, but many cannot. There are many vital nutrients that cannot be obtained from vegetarian sources. I find that I personally would stay away from any meat that the animal was raised or butchered with cruelty. And personally I eat as whole and natural as possible to remain physically and mentally healthy. But I personally refrain from advocating that one must be a vegetarian or anything else. I prefer to simply ask questions and let each of you to answer them yourself. I leave that choice to each person. Agriculture is not without cruelty. So much of our existence here is cruel. We simply do our best. We find ourselves in a barbaric world. It is what it is.

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By nature we are omnivorous. If we look at the history of humankind, we see that we were hunter/gatherers. They lived in harmony with Mother Nature and respected all life. They were in complete balance with Mother Nature. As soon as we developed agriculture, we moved out of balance. We became destructive to the natural environment. Destroying forests and meadows to plant our crops and destroying the natural balance of the environment. This was the beginning of civilization, and we know what followed after that.

Vegetarians can be very judgmental and self righteous. And yet they do not even acknowledge that the plants they eat are also living beings. There was never any society that was ever vegetarian in history. Vegetarianism came about when monasteries began appearing. The monks were agitated, and it was found that a vegetarian diet was better for them, as they did little physical labor. In modern times, many people can stay healthy on a vegetarian diet, and that is good. But many cannot.

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Cats are carnivorous, so do they accrue “bad karma” by eating meat? We are omnivores, so would we accrue any sin? These are questions to consider. Yes, it seems to be better to limit animal consumption, as it does seem less cruel. But can we draw lines in the sand? The American Indians seem to have a very reverential attitude to all life.

“For the Lakota, kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky and water was a real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakota safe among them.

The animals had rights — the right of man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness — and in recognition of these rights the Lakota never enslaved an animal and spared all life that was not needed for food and clothing.

This concept of life and its relations was humanizing and gave to the Lakota an abiding love. It filled his being with the joy and mystery of living; it gave him reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.

From Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things — the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals… Thus all things were kindred, and were brought together by the same Great Mystery.”

~Chief Luther Standing Bear~

I simply walk softly in gratitude.

– Greg Calise