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The Widely Accepted Darkness of Human Cruelty

By       Message Joan Marques     Permalink
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As I progress through life I realize that there are no coincidences. Everything happens at the right time, even though that time sometimes comes across to us as very inconvenient However, once we start seeing our experiences as lessons and decide to invest some serious thought into them, we find important lights flashing on, and unbelievable insights emerging.

In the past week, I was confronted with various instances, which all seem to point in one direction: the dire darkness of humanity's lack of awareness and the disastrous effects this has on other living beings.

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It all started with a visit to a nature exhibition hall in the hills surrounding the little valley I live in. While I often drive around in that area, I decided to visit this small exhibition room, and see what was displayed. There were two deer near the entrance, prepared with taxidermy as if they were frozen in time. There was a collection of "exotic" bugs, which were pinned in small cases and boxes. There were, however, two living creatures on display: a snake and a tarantula. The tarantula had tragically retreated behind a small rock in his glass cage, while the snake was moving from one dry branch to another one in his tiny prison. A little boy was smacking against the glass walls of the snake's cage, but there was no hiding place for the reptile.

Tarantula in cage by

My heart sunk. I wondered what would happen if I would visit again the next day when there might be a nice, friendly person sitting behind the desk, ready to provide information to whomever was interested. What if I walked up to this person and asked her how she liked her job? She might say that it was nice and quiet. Upon that, I might ask her what time she would be leaving for home, and if she said five or six o'clock, I could tell her, "Lucky you! The poor snake and tarantula have to tough it out in their small boxes day after day after day, while their only crime was to come too close within reach of a human being." She probably would call the cops on me, or at least wonder why I was being so "irrational."

Our sense of prejudice and discrimination has come a long way in the eyes of some. But when I see these things I realize that we still have an even longer way to go.

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Today, I received a small clip from a friend. It was titled, "exotic food", and of all the things I may have expected, what I saw was absolutely the last: the clip showed a cuisine contest, Chinese style, where snakes and fish had to be prepared by competing chefs. Oh, the displays were beautiful, but the details were gruesome: the major prerequisite of the contest was that the "meals" still had to be alive when served! Imagine: a snake with a head chopped off, outer body layer skinned, but with pieces that were still moving and a heart that was still pulsating. Imagine: a fish, dipped in water just warm enough not to kill it, then unshelled, and slightly chopped, but only to the point that under the layer of onion, tomato and other colorful veggies, he was still breathing.

Fish served while alive by

I hung my head and cried at this sight of infinite suffering of one living being, instilled for the pleasure of others. I have nothing against any specific human group -- not in regards to race, age, culture, education, or any possible distinction. But I have a huge problem with cruelty. What amazes me most is that hundreds of people attend these events and clap in their hands about it. Is humanity desensitized to such a terrible extent that we have lost the ability to empathize with other living beings, simply because they don't resemble us? Is the fact that also breath and also have a heart not enough? Or is our sense of care and concern limited to very specific beings? Are culture and tradition so strong that they overrule any critical thinking or human awareness skills? What else is there to say?

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Joan Marques is the author of "Joy at Work, Work at Joy: Living and Working Mindfully Every Day" (Personhood Press, 2010), and co-editor of "The Workplace and Spirituality: New Perspectives in Research and Practice" (Skylight Paths, 2009), an (more...)

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