I’m spending thanksgiving alone in Ohio this year, so I’ve had some time to reflect. Thanksgiving is such a beautiful tradition of appreication, family, and delicious food. It breaks my heart to know that some people in this world can’t afford a thanksgiving meal or can’t be with their families on this day. For that reason I’ve started making a point of donating a thanksgiving meal to the hungry every year. But just as heartwrenching is the knowledge that at the center of most thanksgiving tables lies the body of an individual who suffered a life of continual discomfort, pain, and misery just so we can eat her at in the course of one meal. It strikes me as a contradiction to the spirit of Thanksgiving that we take the lives of others in order to celebrate our own, especially when it is possible to have healthful and delicious meals without doing so.
Having a turkey at Thanksgiving is a tradition that we’ve all grown up with, and that we’ve all participated in for a long time, but that few people really think about. We look upon some behaviors and traditions of the past (such as slavery, the treatment of women, the persecution of jews, etc.) with disgust, and wish that people had stopped participating in them. But it is important to notice that injustice is not a thing of the past–it is very much a part of our present day society. We are participants in some of the most intense, widespread, systematic and socially sanctioned suffering ever inflicted by humans on this planet, and that is the production and slaughter of animals for food. It is a horror hidden behind closed doors, and one that will not end until we stop supporting it.
I hope that you take a moment this thanksgiving to reflect, to open your heart to the feelings of others, and to embrace the sense of compassion that I know lies within all of us.