Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Milk vs. Human Kindness

An Open Letter to Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont, his constituent dairy farmers, et. al. 

Representative Welch, I read with interest an article (by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. of the Washington Post printed in the Chicago Tribune) about a letter signed by 20 U.S. legislators demanding the FDA require makers of soy milk, almond milk, and so forth to drop the word "milk" from their labels.

If it doesn't come from an animal, the word "milk" doesn't belong, the article said, summarizing your point. Of course, your own quote a couple of paragraphs later gets to the heart of the matter (or at least, why your heart's in it): these drinks are being placed in the dairy aisle (the outrage!) "right next to milk" you say, adding that dairy is "really crucial" in Vermont and much of "rural America," and dairy farmers are "hanging on by their fingernails."

To which I can only say: really? The end of the dairy industry as we know it? This could not happen soon enough!

Sometimes, we simply have to accept that a job that has been done for hundreds of years won't be with us forever. We have to accept that just because a profession has been in our family for generations doesn't mean we are entitled to it. We also have to accept that this might be for the better.

Often, it's technology that eliminates a job: consider the lamplighter whose gig was made unnecessary by our wired streetlights, or the telegraph and switchboard operators that have given way to ever speedier and more digital technologies, or even the bowling alley pinsetters whose work is now done by simple machine movement.

Sometimes, though, it's a moral goodness that eliminates a job. Where, now, are the slave traders that kidnapped thousands of humans, cruelly confined them, separated them from family members, and forced them into lives of suffering and sorrow that bore no hint of justice?

Please, Representative Welch, and dairy farmers of Vermont, open your hearts and minds to think about WHY people are buying more and more alternative "milks" and less and less of your cruel, unnecessary product.

We don't want to support an industry that relies on confining sentient beings.

We don't want to have adult females impregnated, only to then have their calves taken away (sometimes just to be slaughtered - a true wasted life).

Do you vouch for the health and safety of the cows on your constituents' dairy farms? Can you possibly assure us that the cows of your industry are not living lives of misery? You speak of farmers metaphorically "hanging by their fingernails" but what about newborn calves stolen from their mothers who are actually trying to cling to life?  Or adult cows living in years of imprisonment, unable to have the simple freedom to walk or turn or roam?

Perhaps people would buy more of your milk, so "crucial" in Vermont, if you could assure us it isn't manufactured in cruelty.

On the other hand, maybe we would continue to reduce the amount of dairy milk we consume, because as the populace at large learns more and more about how to healthily sustain and nourish ourselves, we logically turn away from your "crucial" product.

We might continue to realize on a grand scale that we simply don't need milk. Despite the years of successful lobbying, despite your oh-so-powerful Vermont/rural America industry that has brainwashed minds young and old with slogans like "Got milk?" and "It does a body good!" we know that it doesn't do all that much "good" for our bodies at all.

Humans do NOT need cows' milk. Drop the tired old argument about calcium (available in plenty other foods). Despite your having convinced so many of them that they do, humans who have been weaned from their mothers after breastfeeding should take a hint from the rest of their fellow mammals and move on to other foods.

Where else in the class Mammalia do you see animals suckling at the breast of another species? Do you see tigers feeding at the breast of camels? Raccoons drinking from wolves? When someone forwards an "aw, shucks" heartstring-tugging photo of a mother dog letting the poor, abandoned kitten drink milk along with the puppy litter, it's interesting BECAUSE it's an anomaly. It's an emergency situation, not a way of life. Yes, humans would be doing right and good to feed an abandoned human baby who had no mother from a cow's udder in order to save the human baby's life. That does not even remotely justify an industry of pain and terror. Those mother-puppy-feeds-the-kitten stories demonstrate the milk of canine kindness -- not a bunch of inhumane humans locking bovine species into captive servitude to create an industry of suffering,

And by the way? Milk and dairy really aren't that healthy. You might be amazed at how much better you feel when you eliminate dairy from your diet,  how easily you shed those few pounds of bloated abdomen that just accumulate and hang out when you're a milk drinker,

As a legislator, a position that purports to be about service and leadership, you ought to be spending your time and Congressional efforts creating sustainable, forward-thinking jobs and opportunities, rather than clinging to antiquated notions and perpetuating industries that have become completely out of control in the modern age as they scramble to produce enough for too many millions of greedy, entitled humans. You should be encouraging Vermont and others to build a healthy, happy future.

Is it acceptable for a rural farmer to have a couple of cows, milk them to provide for the family, and perhaps sell to a few local village households, while NOT removing and killing the calves, and while NOT keeping the mother penned but instead allowing her to be a free, roaming animal? Sure.

Is the massive dairy industry lobby that controls our nation now acceptable? Good god, no.

Please reconsider your ideas and strategy, and please try to use your position and your voice to actually do some (human and cow) bodies good.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

One More Day Before the Storm

As Macbeth said, "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow..."  

But I do believe that tomorrow, Monday, December 19th, will in fact signify something.
The future, which occurs after the present

I've had this super-weird confluence of personal, professional, and political timing, which all seem to be coming to a frothy head tomorrow. So, when I woke up today (Sunday, December 18th) and Facebook was offering up Fb memories of our three-years-ago trip to Hong Kong Disney, I decided this image of me at Tomorrowland says something important.

Tomorrow means hope. It's not all gloom and doom creeping in at a petty pace, Macbeth. Now, Macbeth is my boy (i.e. favorite Shakespeare tragedy) and he certainly has it right that there are fools and poor players all around us strutting and fretting (ahem TheDnldWTFTrumpface ahem). But the very notion of tomorrow brings hope, as one of my OTHER favorite plays of all time reminds us. So, so, so much hope for the wretches whom Macbeth might call "walking shadows" as they contemplate revolution in Les Misérables:

"There's a new world for the winning/Do you hear the people sing?"

When the Electoral College meets tomorrow, will they hear? Will they do the right thing, the moral thing, the Constitutional thing, and use their best judgment to cast their votes, which means casting them so that TheDnldWTFTrumpface does not ascend to the presidency?

While that's happening politically, I also personally have a huge and emotional development tomorrow in my professional life. (No, the electors aren't going to elect me...that I know of!) One era is coming to an end, due in large part to reduction-in-force layoffs that came slamming into one of my gigs, but not entirely due to that, as I have seized upon a blessing-in-disguise opportunity to do some stuff when this particular new little era of mine dawns. AND, just to compound the personal/professional/tomorrow timing of it all, the last month and a half has been a whirlwind, a mighty and fierce whirlwind, of me working two and a half jobs, laying groundwork, and figuring out lots of big stuff, and all this has been happening since Monday, November 7, the first "One Day More," which led us to the horrible Tuesday, November 8 election day or more accurately the horrible Wednesday, November 9 Day After. So for one month and a half I have been in this intense stirring up of life and time (working every day, sometimes two jobs, plus other events, with no time to think but just go go go with eyes on the prize), with big developments, and meanwhile this parallel thing happening of Trumpface and the end of the world and the burgeoning fight for the #ElectoralCollegeExMachina moment we all need and then after a particularly intense last burst of the 36 hours from 11 a.m. Friday through 11 p.m. Saturday where I was just everywhere serving three or more masters and just go go go went went went I came home and rested.

Sleeping deeply.

And waking up today to Facebook memories of Tomorrowland and the imminence of tomorrow, December 19, when one big thing ends in my personal life, AND there is one superbig chance for the whole world in political life.

Sing it, Les Misérables:

"Tomorrow is the judgment day
Tomorrow we'll discover what our god in heaven has in store
One more dawn
One more day
One day more."