On Eating Our Friends & Night Terrors - Kids See Murder

>>  Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nicola at Diary of an Animal Lover has started a new series of posts regarding Children and Animals.  And with a week of Halloween goblins and ghouls behind us - I thought I'd throw out some questions regarding kids, animals, "meat" and monsters...

Given that most adults have a difficult time reconciling the bloodshed with the burger on their plate,  it's no wonder they go through great lengths to "protect" kids as well.  And even though I'm not a parent I have a hunch as to the stories told to bury this topic - out of sight, out of mind...

Moms and dads, grandparents, kin and neighbors are all in collusion with Old McDonald's where cow's "let down" their milk, wool and eggs are "given" freely and the pigs are always happily fed!  And these innocent images work for a time - 
But depending on how inquisitive the child is... As they age the questions for reality become more pressing.  Astute kids start formulating the truth in their own heads and it's not a pretty sight!  And as one who likes to dabble in armchair psychoanalysis I began to wonder if this might be in part, an explanation as to why some kids have "night terrors".  
As a kid I had my own petrifying attacks accompanied by several years of sleep-walking. None of this is terribly uncommon for kids between 4 - 8.  Everything I've been able to research attributes these interruptions to several possibilities: diet, irregular bedtimes and emotional distress.  I suggest that the emotional distress in lots of kids is the full realization that your nonhuman friends are not only killed but eaten as well! 
Most people admit that they hardly recollect the exact time they understood where meat comes from...  And then others recall a specific adult telling them "all about it"... In either case - The knowledge of this extremely grave (friend-eating) truth must trigger deep feelings of betrayal... In some sense I'm certain that mistrust and fear are created. 

And no wonder!  How confusing!  How frightening!  In one moment adults lovingly teach about soft bunnies and cute calves and then comes the horrible knowledge that consuming them is condoned!  Heck... You suddenly realize you've been eating them too!    
I think this news is terrible enough to cause nightmares.  I simply don't understand why child development professionals don't talk about this more.  Sometimes I wonder if they might even be suppressing their own hidden and buried grief about this awful news.  (?)  Adults in denial - Am I reaching too far?  (snort)

I intend to talk about this subject a lot more... It's my own therapy so to speak.  Try as I might I can't remember my own childhood discovery about what we do to our friends.  But I certainly remember a re-awakening as an adult!  And the obvious cure to the ills of eating your friends - Is to Go Vegan! If you have the moral courage of a child that is...   


veganelder November 10, 2011 at 2:12 PM  

It's curious that you wrote this, I just wrote a piece about rabbits and nightmares.

Bea Elliott November 10, 2011 at 3:33 PM  

Not only curious but a little spooky! At first I thought you meant rabbits "in" nightmares!

And I would think this having been a Buffy fan and recalling one of the character's Leporiphobia. Of course everything was humorous... But this is where my mind went: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr1SafMbn48&feature=related

Now... On a more serious side - I am curious if my theory on kids and night-fears has any substance. And why oh why don't health-care professionals investigate more about our subconscious horror in knowing what's done to innocent life? I'm sure to some kids it must be like waking up to the fact that the adult world is surrounded by ogres?!? Where and how do you escape?

Maybe all therapists should be required to watch Earthlings to get a better grasp on the reality many of their young patients face at learning the truth about "meat"? :/

Certainly your post about bunnies having bad dreams possibly due to frightening experiences has made me that much more aware. If *I* can empathize - Surely a doctor charged with caring for emotional trauma should be able to too!

veganelder November 11, 2011 at 6:09 AM  

Oh jeez Bea, let me think on this a bit and give you a more informed and careful reply...which is deserved. I'll be back.

Bea Elliott November 11, 2011 at 9:03 PM  

That would be great... Anytime you get a chance. Thanx!

Harry November 12, 2011 at 5:15 AM  

Hi Bea

VeganElder will provide an expert opinion but before he does let me shout from the rooftops that I'm with yours. I find it hard to believe that such betrayal - first our parents betraying us and causing us to betray our earthling friends and later us betraying our fellow earthlings without any acceptable excuse - will not have deep consequences. I cannot believe that our awareness can be buried without any consequences whatsoever. We HAVE to feel it deeper inside. We have to burn inside. Cry inside. Rage inside. And wouldn't we start that first as children?

Do we honestly think that we can partake in such atrocities and get away scot-free? We may be able to hide such knowledge from others but never from ourselves.

Bea Elliott November 12, 2011 at 2:27 PM  

Thank you so much Harry for your support in my unique (perhaps "crazy") notion that this horror DOES indeed stay with us - hidden deep in that special, secret place within our conscience.

And what little I know about how the mind works (or doesn't) I have a hunch these buried monsters often force us to misbehave, lie, and cheat just to reinforce and feed him. I think in part, we let this boogieman we've created "win" against our mistreatment to humans - so it will never emerge to show our bad spirit towards other animals... It makes our dark shadow bigger than us. :(

That internal crying and raging I feel it! Obviously you do too! I'd put money on it though, if I were the betting kind - That if such tales of grief over our ruthlessness to others was ever told to a professional... They'd likely say our problems were unfounded, due to a plant diet, a matter for the clergy, or any other suggestion that would dismiss their own obligation to examine the truth.

I think if we could get the mental care experts to objectively examine the negative harms done to children, slaughterhouse workers, and society as a whole - We'd have that much more ground to stand on that these practices result in extreme damage to our spiritual state. In my mind, and I know you're in agreement - It's the worst cancer in existence. It is the stem and root of everything vile that we tolerate... And the cure to it all is so, so very simple. If only we'd heed.:/

Thank you Harry-It's great to have you back in full swing, hitting the points right on the mark as usual! ;) xox

veganelder November 13, 2011 at 8:54 AM  

Bea, I'm opting out on this. It is too big of a thing for me to be able to address coherently. The children I saw in when practicing had, for the most part, been so wounded by their families that not much else even showed up on their radar screens.

Now I think a fruitful direction to look in is the kind of teaching we do about power...about how one being that has more power than another being should behave viz-a-viz the one with lesser power. By definition we all start out with relatively little power and we learn how to treat those with little power by observing and absorbing how we are treated by those with greater power. One of my old arguments against using violence in service of discipline was that you cannot do that without also teaching the lessons that 1. Violence is a solution to a problem. and 2. It is acceptable for those with power to be violent toward those with less power.

I suspect we have to move toward an appreciation of and an attribution toward living beings as possessing a sacred component that must ever and always be respected. Their boundaries must be honored and their beings not molested...for any reason not in their best interests.

We betray our children from day one and we betray ourselves constantly...we then tend to think nothing of betraying the rest of the beings of our planet.

Insofar as night terrors and parasomnias in general go it is very rare that such a presenting symptom was the reason a child came into therapy...at least in my experience and when they were mentioned they almost always had to do with trauma witnessed or trauma inflicted on the child...and the trauma was usually human to human violence or sexual abuse.

A great leveling of the considered worth of the lives of beings is going to have to occur. All must be sacred, all must be honored, all must be protected and all must be celebrated. I'm pretty sure lots of nightmares will decrease when that happens.

Bea Elliott November 15, 2011 at 8:53 PM  

Hi VE - Sorry for the delay - I got sidetracked by way too many distractions (life).

I want you to know I do appreciate you taking the time to explain many things about the power structure kids are under the spell of. It does help validate some of my layman's theories. (for me).

I never mentioned this before, but I'm more certain of it now after reading your summation - Corporal punishment only instills a "might makes right" attitude to kids. It never really teaches. It only promotes fear, subjectivity or a bullying mentality. It's a horrible way to mold a future adult. The rod will ruin the man.

And verbal power can sure have it's wounds too. A close friend of mine was repeatedly told by his father (before beatings), "I brought you into this world and I can take you out!" How he grew up to be kind and senstive - I'll never know! With such damages done by guardians and caregivers - I can't think of a better reason to have humans tested and licensed before they can be intrusted to be a parent. A license to drive... But not have kids - Doesn't make sense. :/

What you've seen and heard throughout your years must haunt you often... For all the ills that humans do to each other - I'm so, so sorry - For all of us. :(

And this "sacred component that must ever and always be respected" - YES!!! I see it as an invisible "no trespass" sign. It's there - Every being has it! Even if some choose not to acknowledge it.

Thank you so much VE... Nightmares... The more you know, the more rare and precious sweet dreams are. Innocence is bliss. And I think that's the very justice I long for - For everyone to be given back their innocence. And in this way no one would ever be harmed... (sigh).

veganelder November 17, 2011 at 6:46 AM  

One factor to keep in mind about violence and behavior control is that in the short term it is effective in terms of modifying behavior...this is one reason it is so prevalent. It requires little thought, doesn't take long and makes behavior change. Great, eh? Well, the problem is all those other things...teaching that violence is acceptable, bullying is ok, etc...all that other teaching goes on but isn't immediately apparent...hence...many people get the vapors if you advocate discipline without violence.

My thought is this, if you as an adult are unable to out think and out strategize a child much younger than you to where you can manage their behavior without violence...maybe you shouldn't be responsible for a child.

Same thing goes for all the other species on the Earth. If you can't interact with them and deal with them without violence...maybe you shouldn't be allowed to be around them.

Violence (or threats of violence) are the bane of human behavior...we seem to embrace it and revel in it...it appears to be addictive in some ways. Bad juju. :-)

Bea Elliott November 21, 2011 at 8:58 AM  

Yes VE - What you said about adults being restrained from having kids if their unable to communicate without violence... I totally get. It sets to motion a horrible cycle of co-dependent or bullying "bossy" adults. The victims usually grow up thinking they deserve unkind or humiliating treatment - Gravitate to the monsters and so feeds our disfunctional world.

Bad juju - in a nutshell! Thanks again for reflecting sanity back in my direction.