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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2343

Why should millions of animals destroyed during Christmas to celebrate birth anniversary of one man?

By Senaka Weeraratna

Life is the most precious possession of all living beings. No religion can deny this simple fact. Reverence for life is the epitome of ethics. To confine the reverence for life to only one species and discard the claims to live unharassed of the other eight million species that share the planet with humans is ethically and morally indefensible.

Monotheistic religions ignore the ethical dimensions of this reality. But adherents of other religions such as Buddhists and Jains and free thinkers in the West are not prepared to do so.

This issue always comes up at time of Christmas. Because that is the time that the greatest amount of harm is caused to animals. However much one tries to deny or cover up with seemingly innocuous sounding language there is an underlying human complicity in this animal holocaust and savagery.

Christmas feasts are deeply associated with the consumption of the flesh of victims of violence. Meat is obtained by snuffing out the life of another living being that wants to continue to live. It is hypocritical to talk of love and peace to all at Christmas while gleefully tucking into the remains of a dead animal on your plate. This is what is called double speak. It is basically language used to deceive usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth.

All the hosannas sung to the good Lord and his acolytes at Christmas becomes nothing but hypocritical if one overlooks the enormous amounts of blood of innocent animals that is being shed on the eve of Christmas to bring the meat to your plate.

To eat meat without bothering to consider its true source is not right mindfulness. One must cultivate right mindfulness at all times particularly at times of religious observances. To disregard this requirement devalues the sanctity of the religious occasion. Christmas unfortunately has become a showboat festival sans true compassion for all living beings.

It is a ‘day of infamy’ from the point of view of dying animals. It is anything but a season of joy for them.

The screams of animals being slaughtered under most primitive unregulated conditions and in the backyards of homes during the Christmas season go unheard, unnoticed, and disregarded at times of prayer in Christian Churches, and more alarmingly in the corridors of power of this pre-dominantly Buddhist country. The rulers of this country in the pre-colonial era were animal friendly and upheld a culture of tolerance towards all living beings.

To talk of the high value of environmental conservation while ignoring the urgent need to enact the Animal Welfare Bill, is another instance of double speak that the Catholic Church is also guilty of. The Catholic Church and all other Christian Churches are maintaining a deafening silence on the necessity of bringing the Animal Welfare Bill onto the Statute Book. Animals have no votes. Sri Lanka’s self serving politicians can afford to ignore them. Their moral authority and credibility is nil. But religious institutions are a different kettle of fish. They are supposed to be the keepers of the moral conscience of a society. In this era of increasing awareness of the rights of others, how can one ignore the plight of other living beings?

A slaughter free religious festival would be a season of joy for all at least from the point of view of preservation of life. Humans and non – human animals alike. Vesak provides the best example where reverence and compassion for all forms of life is stressed and consequently on Vesak day an age-old custom is legally enforced – closure of slaughter houses and ban on sale of meat. A majority of the people abstain from flesh food consumption as part of the Buddhist religious tradition and practice on that occasion.

We in Sri Lanka can set an example to the rest of the world by doing likewise on Christmas day. The biggest beneficiaries would be the innocent animals. It is time that we all give consideration to their paramount interest in living until their natural life span ends just as much we humans do to each other.

Sri Lankans who celebrate Christmas should strongly consider commencing a new tradition of kindness and goodwill to all living beings by leaving meat off their plate on Christmas day. Instead of blindly aping foreign traditions mired in killing and bloodshed during Christmas, why not follow a more distinctive Buddhist (Vesak) tradition in Sri Lanka of total non-violence when celebrating the anniversary of the birthday of the founder of a religion.

It is never too late to start such a fresh endeavor this season. It will save lives. What can be more holy and noble than that?

Extend the spirit of goodwill to animals this Christmas by avoiding meat altogether on Christmas Day. That will be an unique and truly noble gesture.

All lovers of peace and non – violence (ahimsa) must campaign to make religious festivals in Sri Lanka slaughter free. That will bring a level of international recognition to Sri Lanka that no amount of empty rhetoric on Human Rights can bring.

“Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”

Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality

- Asian Tribune -

Why should  millions of animals destroyed during Christmas to celebrate birth anniversary of one man?
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