What makes us human

Reading about the recent findings at a Tyson Foods pig breeding facility made me sick to my stomach. Which is the reason why I usually stay away from graphic, visual descriptions such as “workers kicking piglets like soccer balls, swinging sick piglets in circles, and ruthlessly beating mother pigs.”  I don’t mean to be ignorant but it breaks my heart and so I try to focus on the positive.

In this case, I got far enough to read those details and as I was having a small angry crying episode, I kept asking the question “why“. I understand people taking the only available job at a slaughter house and having to deal with the standard abuses at commercial farms (minuscule cages, gestation crates, etc). I don’t agree with it, I think there are alternatives, but I get it. But why add to the cruelty? Even if you’re not an animal activist and don’t believe that pigs and chickens and cows have feelings and think of them as purely food, why proactively add to their pain?

This pointless cruelty somehow made me think of a Barbara Kingsolver quote about cock-fighting. “I’m not talking about chicken souls. I don’t believe roosters have souls. What I believe is that humans should have more heart than that. I can’t feel good about people making a spectator sport out of puncture wounds and internal hemorrhage.

The quote is about cock-fighting but I think it fits. I’m not expecting the farm workers to consider pigs’ emotional welfare or believe that they have souls.  But why make a disgusting, cruel game out of another creature’s pain?  I vehemently believe that humans should have more heart than that.  And it absolutely kills me that they don’t.