Respect

Now that this place is officially closed, I thought it was about time to give it back some life. Recently I have been watching a lot of different documentaries and short films about how we live and what the human being has become. I find it extremely shocking and this is why I thought it might be an idea to return to our original or initial goal here at the BLS – to find great ideas, think about the world and maybe just make a little difference at some point.

So having said that, today I would like to write about respect.
For me, it is always been an important matter to respect others. And I generally also expect everybody else to respect me. The definition of respect by modern world’s Holy Grail Wikipedia outlines very nicely what respect is. So it says that “respect is a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion) and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. (…) Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures.” Professor Jonathan Haidt from the New York University Stern School of Business identified respect for tradition (…) “as one of five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals.” Respect can be given and also received.
The article continues to outline signs of respect. Cutting this long story short, respect shows itself in language as well as in physical gestures. Generally respectful behavior usually is shown by more subtle gestures and voice as well. I have not yet come across any situation when people were respectfully shouting at each other or fighting with each other on the street. (although apparently there is a lot of respect in martial arts)

Now, why this longwinded introduction?
I have recently watched a film that came out in 2009 already and I am sure some of you have watched it, too: Food Inc. It is a very realistic look at how our food, and more specific, our meat is produced nowadays. For us, it is normal to just go to the supermarket and buy a piece of meat. All that matters (for the majority) is, how cheap it is. Nobody asks the question where does this piece of meat come from? And what life did the animal live before it was slaughtered? We are not interested. We don’t care. The reality is that our meat is a mass-product. Of course “Food Inc.” shows how animals are kept in the US, and I am sure that we have not yet reached the same scale of factory farming, but we are on a good way. Animals are treated with no respect at all. It is important to earn as much money as we can with the meat. We feed cows corn, something they would not eat if they had a choice. We keep them in tight spaces with no real natural environment. The animals are literally standing in their own excrements – ankle-deep. If one animal is sick, every other animal will also become sick.
Chicken… another horror story. Nowadays they are fattened and grown so fast, it is absolutely insane. The food industry has “re-designed” the chicken, so that they grow bigger and we get to eat bigger chicken breasts. These poor animals become so big in such a short time, they cannot even stand on their own feed. Not all of them witness the day they get caught to be carried away to the slaughter house. They “live” crammed together in a long tunnel-like shed without any daylight. All of them are injured in one way or another and they get fed with food that contains antibiotics to at least keep them alive. In the slaughterhouse, not all is over as quickly as we think. Just recently there have been reports that not all animals are sedated when the machine throws them in boiling water…
Pigs – just another sad story of how cruel we have become. These animals are often kept in way too small cages where they cannot move. Just recently a team of investigative journalists managed to film in a shed here in Europe. The sow is locked in its cage, bearing. But it cannot even move to protect her newborns and they are trampled to death by the other – also locked in – animals.

This is just a small section of what is happening every minute everywhere in the industrialised world. We have become blind to the fact that we are cruel to life. We show no respect for life. Much the opposite. The poor animals that we have tortured for their whole life get kicked at if they move too slowly on their way to the slaughter house. They get tortured by forklift trucks if they cannot stand on their own feet any more. So where is the respect that we should show these animals? I cannot see it. Of course, the world population is ever growing. And it is obvious that there has been a need to industrialise the food production in a way. But to what cost? I mean, we over-produce chicken massively here in Europe. Germany alone produces way more chicken that it would need. Same goes for all the surrounding countries. In Germany the chicken-farming industry is highly subsidised. So basically by the tax money we pay we are directly helping this industry to grow even further.
I think this is the wrong way. We keep animals because we want their meat. They will not revolt – how could they. But because the human race has evolved to the top of the evolution, we also have a responsibility to respect life in general. We are fighting world wide that humans are granted their rights to have a peaceful life, without harm and terror. But we terrorise and harm animals on a daily basis, and I think this is agains what we say to believe. There are ways to “produce” good food but in harmony with nature. We have to stop the stupid and unnecessary subsidy of an already over-growing industry and return to a realistic production again.

If you want to learn more, watch Food Inc., or have a look at their website here.
Another really impressive but also sad story is told in “More than honey”. There it seems nature has already found a way to defend itself. Maybe there is hope. But I am not so sure if there is hope for the human race once nature starts to fight back…