For at least five years, I've been writing a media column for Veg News magazine. A media column? In a veggie mag? Well, while reading Derrick Jensen's latest book, Endgame, I came across a passage that effectively explains this curious arrangement.
Jensen tells of how the New York Times, after 9/11, published, "profiles of people killed in the attack on the Word Trade Center." Through these profiles (which were syndicated throughout the country) readers learned, for example of the "efficient executive" who "never forgot the attention to spit and polish, in his work or play," and a top stockbroker: a "prankster with a heart" who'd "pull up next to you in his Porsche-a 911-flip the bird, grin, and take off in the wind." Jensen's reaction is what I wish to share with you:
"Imagine how our discourse and actions would be different if people daily detailed for us the lives-the individuality, the small and large joys and fears and sorrows-of those whom this culture enslaves or kills. Imagine if we gave these victims that honor, that attention. Imagine if everyday newspapers carried an account of each child who starves to death because cities take the resources on which the child's traditional community has forever depended. She never ran, the article might read, because she never had the energy, but she loved to be tickled, and loved to watch her mother, no matter what her mother did. When her mother carried her in a sling on her back, her large eyes took in every detail of her surroundings. She loved to smile at her neighbors, and smile also at little birds that landed on the ground near her mother's feet. Imagine if we considered her life as valuable as that of the 'efficient executive,' and if we considered violence against her to as heinous as we consider violence against him. Imagine, too, if our discourse included accounts of those nonhumans whose lives this culture makes unspeakably miserable: the billions of creatures bred for torture in feedlot, factory farm, or laboratory; the wild creatures worth money, who are pursued and destroyed no matter where they hide; the wild creatures unvalued by the economic system, who are eliminated because they are in the way of production. Imagine if we spoke of the threespine sitckleback, the Miami blue butterfly, white abalone, spectacled eider, southwestern willow flycatcher, Holmgren's milkvetch, Pacific pocket mouse, individually and collectively. Imagine, finally, if we considered their lives as valuable as our own, and their contribution to the world and to our neighborhoods to be as valuable as that of a stockbroker-or even moreso-even if the stockbroker does drive a Porsche, flip us the bird, and take off like the wind."
So, that's why I write a media column for a vegetarian magazine...
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.