March 23, 2012 § 14 Comments
Last night I walked down to the birch knoll, so named for the thin copse of paper birch that populate the small hill, their white bark like bones against the sky. I carried the chainsaw, the splitting maul, a peavey, and a beer. The target was a fat length of ash I’d pulled from the woods over the winter. I knew it had at least a week’s worth of cookstove wood in it, and I set my goal on its demise before nightfall.
To reach the knoll, one must past the pigpen, where there are currently 17 two-day old piglets nursing on a pair of recumbent sows. There is no cuter critter than a two-day old piglet; they are soft as downy kittens, and sound like small ducks. Their ears are permanently folded back, like the wings of paper airplanes. They even smell nice, which I know because earlier in the day, I’d held one to my nose and just breathed, for at least a minute. Then it started quacking, so I put it back.
I stopped for a moment to admire the scene. The mothers looked as if they’d just set down the weight of the world; they lay with their soft underbellies exposed, as if they had nothing to hide, nothing to fear. The piglets had arranged themselves in neat rows, one per spigot. The late sun was slanting down, and it felt nice on my skin. It was as bucolic a scene as I’ve witnessed of late, and I’ve witnessed a few.
Standing there with the saw heavy in one hand, the axe and peavey awkward in the other, and my beer going warm in my pocket, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that within six or seven months, all of the pigs would be dead. In two months or so, after the piglets have been weaned and sent off to their new homes, I will walk to the pigpen with a .22 rifle in my hands and put a bullet in each of those sows’ brains. Their blood will spill over the very ground on which they gave birth and nursed their babies. The piglets, of course, have a bit longer: It will be a half-year or more before their demise.
I have come to realize that to be human is to be, by default, pro-death. It does not matter how many meatless “meat” patties you consume, how many leather shoes you forgo in favor of hemp or organic cotton. To produce each and every one of those “cruelty free” products causes the death of innumerable small beings, as the foundational crops are sown and harvested, and then causes more suffering as the industrial pollution machine grinds into gear during processing and distribution. This is not an argument against vegetarianism and veganism; I hold no qualms with anyone’s dietary choices. It is merely an acknowledgement of reality.
The inescapable conclusion is this: I am pro-death. I suppose it’s not the most politically correct statement ever, but then, I’m not running for office. Still, the core truth is slightly more complicated, because the notion that life and death are not interconnected and interdependent is a contrivance of human emotion. They each require the other, to the extent that they are not even two sides of the same coin: They are the same side of the same coin.
So yeah, I’m pro-death. Which makes me pro-life, too.