Where to begin? Do I give an objective account of NARD (National Animal Rights Day) or just spill my emotions? I’m afraid that to do the former, I would have to wait a while, if ever dispassion in this case were possible.
As a first time participant of the NARD at Union Square in New York City, which took place today, July 24, 2016, I did not know what to expect, although I have dabbled in activism. I protested a rinky dink circus that rented enslaved African animals for entertainment; I marched with Farm Sanctuary through Central Park; I staged my own protest of Benoit Restaurant in New York City that “celebrates” spring by serving infant piglets cooked up whole; I have campaigned against bow hunting deer in my community; I have written countless unpublished letters to editors, and donated money for farm animals. I had been looking for the bigger event that would attract attention and was eager for NARD.
What sets this event apart is that is consecrates a time to grieve for the dead and the soon to die and those suffering. I have never had the chance to grieve for the tragedy of animal cruelty with others before, and for that chance I am grateful. Around eighty people assembled, lined up in rows, in the plaza of Union Square North shortly after noon. As with all funerals, music called out the truth and emotion. Over the sound system first came the mournful choir of wailing female voices to accompany handing out the dead animals. About fifty dead animals were distributed to participants. Those in the back, who exceeded the number of animals, held posters. After the somber wailing came the tolling of a bell, and then the hell sound of the slaughter house with the mayhem and terror and the screams of the pigs and the banging of machines — sounds saturated with suffering and fear. If I had one wish, it would be for anyone who picks up a sandwich with slices of a dead animal or so called bacon to hear those sounds. I was transfixed to my spot and felt like I could stand there endlessly if it would ever help stop something so horrible. The woman standing next to me was sobbing. Many cried. I wanted to cry, so I did and I thought, I am a Stoic and believe in Stoic virtues, but if anything in this world is worth the tears, this is it. After the sounds of violence, terror, and dying, the song “In the arms of an Angel” made me, an atheist, wish as never before that there was some unearthly recompense for all the suffering. Following that song were the strains of “I’m in Here” giving a voice to the victims, and last John Lennon’s “Imagine,” that paean to all that is quixotic. Through it all, I cried for the pigs screaming at slaughter; I cried for a world that is so callous as to pretend that such suffering does not exist. Where is the end to such tears?
Here, dear imaginary reader of this, lies the problem. For every tear we shed and every message we send at our gatherings and protests in person and on the internet, the machine grinds out ten thousand messages to confine and kill. We are not even David fighting Goliath; we haven’t even figured out how to make the slingshot. Until we have the celebrity power, organization, and money to meet the meat and dairy behemoth on its own level—in the press, in advertisements, in government, and in popular culture – evil will win. Ecce sunt lacrimae rerum.