New Scenes from Peaceable Kingdom
Today’s post was going to be a bit of a downer, based on Greg Critser’s "Of Men and Mice" in this month’s Harper’s. But at the last minute I decided on something more upbeat and affirming: Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. Jenny Stein and James LaVeck have released three scenes from the upcoming film, which will be released next year.
I am fully convinced that the way we are going to shift human perception regarding nonhumans is to find or create as many ways as possible to present the reality that nonhuman animals are individuals. Yes, the capacity for pleasure, pain, boredom and affection is important. Sentience cannot be underplayed. However, to see a goat at play, a mother hen teaching her baby chick, and a cow grazing with and nuzzling her calf as they walk, unremarkably, across a field, says: these creatures are simply going about their lives. And they have a right to. They have a right to live their own lives, without being branded, without being de-beaked, without being crammed into a shed or crate, without being raped, without being drugged and without being slaughtered.
Watching the first clip, Scene 9, reminds me that we have barged into the lives of chickens and completely taken them over. We’ve altered their bodies, their behaviors, and their families. And then we cheer when their abusers agree to giving them a bit more space. Their lives are still not their own. Their bodies are still not their own. Their babies are still immediately taken from them and the males are slaughtered soon thereafter.
Watching the second clip, Scene 18, of Willow Jeane Lyman, is disturbing as I have yet to grasp how anyone can brand a calf the first time, let alone ever get used to doing it. When you have to restrain a creature, who then screams in pain as you and he both smell his burning skin, flesh and hair as you create a wound that will leave a lifelong scar, what goes through your mind? More important, what goes through your heart? And why do some people look at what they’re doing and realize how wrong it is, while others laugh at them?
The third clip, Scene 6, is what I would send to friends if I could choose only one. Cayce Mell describes when Seneca, an abused cow at the farmed animal sanctuary she started, began to trust a person (Jason Tracy):
Rather than just not trust anyone ever again, it’s like they recognize that not all humans are the same. Animals are capable of recognizing us as individuals, and I think the greatest gift that we can give to them, is to recognize them as individuals.
It’s evidently easy to look away when an "other" is being used in a way you’d never allow a family member to be used. Our mission is to shatter the illusion that there is an "other."