Thou shalt not kill. But how do we stop?
Thou shalt not kill. Probably one of the greatest moral directives ever thought of by mankind; but utterly impossible to adhere to.
All humans have to kill for their food even if they themselves just go to the market to buy it and have no hand in killing anything themselves. The thing would not be there to buy it if there was no demand at all for it.
Now, of course many will tell us this biblical directive was talking about humans killing humans, and specifically children of the god of Abraham not killing each other. Fair enough, because what happens later supports the idea that killing other humans was demanded by god, so the only conclusion one draws is that killing is fine if god says so, and killing gods not so chosen is ok. So I’m not discussing the Christen/Jewish or Muslim explanation of their book’s confusing directive.
Not killing has long been thought of as a high moral position and goal. Not just people killing other people, but people killing other things. Buddhism teaches that all life is sacred regardless of what it is. Hinduism has the same idea.
But really the only people who can practice this way of life are the priests because they rely on what people give them to eat. Without people looking after these holy men they would have to starve.
There is a story about a Hindu master who noticed that the drinking water had been contaminated with mosquito larva. To allow others to drink the water meant exposing them to malaria. Dumping the water and refilling it would have meant he would have killed hundreds of lives. So what did he do? He told a passerby to dump the water.
Was that a real solution? The passerby was innocent because he didn’t know he was killing anything, and he thought he remained innocent as he didn’t do it.
But of course he knew what his request would do, so to me that doesn’t absolve him of the killings, lt makes him the same as anyone who hires an assassin.
Once he knew there were mosquito larva in the water he had no choice but to sin no matter what his choice was. He had to choose between human life and insect life. In fact, he was killing bacterial life as well.
Every doctor who has cured someone of a bacterial of viral invasion is a murderer, and proud of it.
So perhaps most of us can justify the killing of insects and bacteria as a self defence move? After all, they are attacking us, not we them. Self defence is always a good reason to have killed: Survival.
But we can see that holding all life sacred is a worthy idea. Everything is made of the same substance; atoms. Everything is connected. Even though it isn’t possible to completely comply with “thou shalt not kill” we can still keep our killing to a minimum, can’t we?
That’s why some people become vegans or vegetarian. Many people feel that we shouldn’t kill animals for food. It’s cruel and unnecessary.
Of course one has to know that vegetables are alive too. Just because they can’t scream as you skin your carrot alive, it is still a life form, and therefore sacred, if you will. Studies have shown that they do react to being attacked. But of course they don’t have a brain so according to many can’t feel pain.
Instead of insisting that feeling or emotional response may not require a brain, as all hardwired responses have physical consequences. Or that motions and feelings are needs felt and that all things respond only to real or perceived need: you wouldn’t blink if not for a need, I’m just going to ask: since when did whether a thing feels pain or not become the reason to kill it or not?
Well if all life is sacred then the veg is no less sacred than the cow. You can tell yourself there is big difference, and there is to most of us humans, but in the grand puzzle: is there?
It’s survival. If I kill by eating and supporting meat production, and I kill by supporting the agriculture industry, mashing potatoes like witch hunters pressing people to gain confession, what can I eat? It’s eat or die, simple as that.
The only animal that doesn’t kill is a scavenger. The true scavenger eats what it finds already dead, and cleans the area by ingesting what would otherwise rot and attract disease. Yet scavengers are looked down on by many. Come to think of it, vegans are looked down on by meat eaters and meat eaters are looked down upon by vegans.
Plants that can live on the energy provided by light, nutrition in the soil and water also don’t have a moral dilemma. But humans do, and so does all the meat we eat. Perhaps we should just eat meat?
Am I suggesting that we should stop eating and all do what a Buddhist monk once did, sacrificed himself to a hungry lioness and her cubs when he saw their need? No. If that’s your thing then... well, I better not encourage you.
Am I saying we should become scavengers? Certainly not. Wouldn’t be enough to go around anyway.
What I’m saying is there is no way around it for humans. Both sides are wrong. It is wrong to kill animals, but just as wrong to take any life for any reason, never mind torturing veggies and making them bleed in your soup. No use looking down on anyone for their opinion on which is more or less humane. Killing is killing. But survival insists we are responsible for something’s death.
In the north, of course there is really no choosing to be vegan. It’s meat or fish your family dies. Some insist that doing the killing one’s self is a humbling lesson in living and the relationship between humans and their meal. Natives often thank the animal they kill. Again, all good for some, not for everyone.
The universe is set that way. Atoms don’t die, they just merge with other systems. But systems, like ourselves, die. The energy that was us is then recycled to make other things. Nature is a constant renewal process, constantly transforming everything.
If there is a conscious god responsible for this should we not be pondering whether we can forgive it or not for it’s cruelty? But of course if it is just nature; just the way it is and must be, then there is no reason to forgive anything.
We all have to make choices in life concerning what we will and won’t eat. Some will eat anything, guilt free. Others have guilt about it no matter what they choose. Do what you are comfortable with, with my blessing. Try to do what makes you fell healthy and the least guilty. The fix was in from the start: Thou shalt not kill never had a chance.