Vegans Know The Animal Perspective - Empathy Trumps Civility

>>  Sunday, July 31, 2011

On my Provoked blog I made an entry that mentions viewing history in an animal perspective.  Now I know that what Steve Best spoke of and what I'm about to write are different - Still, the idea of viewing life or circumstances through a subjective viewpoint brings these two ideas together for me on this post.

So while the memories are still fresh, I wanted to tell of this minor surgery I recently had done to my shoulder... And my "animal" experiences during the time I was "processed".

First, a disclaimer - I'm not one who has had many medical operations or procedures... The only other cause for me to "go under a knife" was the removal of my tonsils as a kid - So, I grant that any experience with being in the vulnerable physical control of others is new to me. Perhaps this is why my "animal insights" were so intense?

After check in I was fitted with assorted equipment that would monitor vitals, keep tabs on my breathing, heart rate, etc. While I was on the gurney surrounded by strangers who were touching, (poking and prodding) me, I couldn't help but relate that this is what a nonhuman must feel like - Somewhat helpless and apprehensive to say the least.  Still, I was there with consent and had the comfort of rationality to ease any distress.  Yes, nonhumans left in the clutches of man endure much anxiety.

Once I was undressed and "prepped" the cluster of staff and aids wheeled me away from my waiting station and halfway to O.R. the last injection I was given put me out...  Of course I was never awake for the worst of it... But somewhere in my mind I knew that my animal friends were not so fortunate in their ordeal with the unfamiliar, the frightening and the torturous.

It would be a short time afterward before I became lucid... And in that in between state of being half aware and half drugged, many people respond in different ways.  Behind the curtains at other post-op stations one could hear a woman in a fret over lost keys, an elderly gentleman was arguing about a parking ticket... And I even heard someone cry over a no-show prom date - Yet none of us was younger than in our 40's.  

But my semi-conscious wailing was even more unique and unexpected... So much so that they called my husband in pre-maturely to "settle me down".  What was I ranting about?  The animals of course!  The caged, imprisoned ones.  The trapped ones in chains... The ones suffocated at birth... The ones dragged away from their mothers.  The ones that were beaten in factory farms and the ones delivered to the slaughterhouses.  Yep, those all too familiar desperate scenes that have shaped my outlook for the last few years was vehemently vocalized - Even through the disorientation of drugs and anesthetics.

Now... It's not odd that this would be at the forefront of my mind - I've heard many say that even in dreams the plight of nonhumans is an inescapable issue.  But what is note worthy is the reaction of the nurses and staff that were my guides from one fuzzy reality into the socially condoned (fuzzy) one... The "civilized" one, where one dares not talk about such things - Especially not with unchecked emotion and blunt truth.

So it is the conduct of the staff from then on, revealing our culture's disconnect with their own sense of reality, that I write about... 

Prior to my surgery everyone was personable, considerate and attentive.  Yet afterwards as I was being re-examined and made ready-for-release, I sensed an abrupt, aloof, callous distance from the very same people I was joking and smiling with a few hours before... It was obvious I became a different person to them - I became one who was a "threat" to their false-notion that humans are kind to animals... And I exposed that the harms that come to nonhumans really are institutionalized brutality.  And that not only is murdering the innocent chronic in our culture, but pragmatically buried away from our "sensitivities".
Yes, my genuine concern bled through my un-awake state... And it shed a light on to their indoctrinations. It revealed cruelties habituated from dead hearts and/or blind minds.  Even a week later, my once cordial physician had an unusual air of terseness.  My imagination? Perhaps, but doubtful as it's no secret that patient reactions before and after surgery - comical or sorrowful - are discussed among professionals.

And now, as my arm heals and I literally and figuratively move in different ways... My experiences of being a subject, placed in submissive circumstances, "man handled" and then marginalized only reaffirms what I already knew about our nonhuman friends.  That what they experience at our will and for our whim, as an everyday "norm", is a relentless trauma to them. Historically the whole of what the animal nations have tragically endured puts them, in my eyes, ever more deserving of the respect we now withhold.

Is there an outside hope that someone listening to my incoherent concerns decided to think or investigate further? Better yet... Is there someone here reading this now making the connection?  Please, if you are not already on their side... If you are not already vegan... I urge and implore you - That now is the time to be so. You have no idea how not doing so violates these very innocent beings...  


CQ August 2, 2011 at 3:35 AM  

I read this quite a few hours ago and didn't know quite what to say, so I left it alone and came back just now to reread it. I expected to see other comments -- but I seem to be the first. Perhaps all your other friends are digesting this sad story.

I was stunned not only by your ordeal, Bea: your cry for help for the animals that cut through your foggy state of mind, the abrupt attitude change of the nursing staff from kind to brusque (what a memorable description of that scene you give us), and the vivid videos and illustrations you carefully chose to accompany the tragic tale.

We readers could be excused, I hope, for forgetting all about your shoulder as the drama unfolded and we were glued to your every word.

I gather since you are once again typing up a storm that you finally feel fit as a fiddle -- physically, anyway. That's GOOD!

As to the mental, I sense your mind is still on those freezing turkeys jammed in that open-air truck, and your heart remains with the pigs and cows, whose terror and despair know no end -- until they find great peace in the Great Beyond).

Have Gone Vegan August 3, 2011 at 5:01 PM  

What a powerful post! I'm still digesting. Thank you for sharing and I do hope you're feeling better. Hugs.

Bea Elliott August 7, 2011 at 2:59 PM  

Thank you both CQ and HGV of course I didn't intend this post to be a cry for sympathy... At least not for myself.

I think it's amazing what our minds and hearts hold on to in an "other-world" state. Very telling of what we're capable of holding on too.

Yes, I'm doing much, much better... And these people I "enlightened" in my own crude way - Well, I don't mind them one bit. I'll never see them again. Besides, who knows maybe someday I hear of a story about someone who woke up themselves via the rantings of a mad woman in a post op room! Stranger things have happened. ;)

Anyway, thank you both for dropping by with your get well wishes and welcomed kind remarks. ~peace~

veganelder September 13, 2011 at 4:19 AM  

That's an interesting and perceptive equate what happens at the hands of the medical establishment to what happens to the animals. Especially in light of your lack of experience at being 'medicalized'. good work.

As far as freaking out the "meatheads" are aware that in the past, being identified as a "hippy", a "women's libber", a "anti-war protestor" or numerous other labels would rapidly elicit various degrees of withdrawal and wary behavior from folks. I have come to believe that vegan or animal-rights notions are seeping enough into cultural consciousness that people are (consciously or unconsciously) beginning to see those phenomena as a threat to "their way of life", and as a maybe unspoken condemnation of them.

Change spooks folks and elicits exposed yourself as an agent of now you get to be "handled with care"...cause if you're might cause some change. Congratulations!!

Bea Elliott September 19, 2011 at 5:23 PM  

Hi VE - If it is perceptive... I'd have to attribute it to how I felt in my raw, awakening state... I learned what I could about the actual "process" of meat (I think we all do that to a degree)... The thing that struck me most though were the images of the cold, stainless machinery... The cutting, slicing, puncturing instruments. To think that we use these as weapons against defenseless, unwilling victims stays in my mind as an abomination to this day.

I can't think of anything more foreign or frightening to other animals than what meets their bodies during their tragic, violent end.

Ugh! Looks like I might have saved all that for a post! :/

On freaking out the meatheads --- Yes, just think at another time under the same circumstance they may have offered me a frontal lobotomy or a hysterectomy! Or even at another time still, a nice charring on the stake. :/

I totally agree about the (reluctant) change seeping in... And even though I disagree with Jonathan S Foer on some conclusions, he confirms exactly what you said about being perceived as a threat:

"There are ideas that can literally put you in physical danger, which this one can. There are ideas that are socially dangerous, which this one is. There are ideas that are dangerous because of their potential to change things in a dramatic way, which this one also is. So by most definitions, I would say that not eating animals is a dangerous idea.''

Hope reason continues to spook people into questioning deeper... There is only one course to proceed once the answer is found. "Handle with care" - Yeah, I wish more people did that regarding the victims rather than with us the messengers.

... Congrats! Back at ya!