Practical Issues > Factory Farming > Cows
A Motherless Child... On Mothers Day

by Ruth Eisenbud
May 5, 2012

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child Sometimes I feel like a motherless child Sometimes I feel like a motherless child A long ways from home A long ways from home

"Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" African American Spiritual

These evocative words express the weariness and sorrow of enslavement, which removes children from their parents, so that both may be exploited.

a motherless child......

When a human child goes missing headlines proclaim the full tragedy of the loss... Every effort is made to return the child to his parents, as the lives of human children have considerable value.. Every year hundreds of millions cows have their children confiscated, so that they may be robbed of milk intended for their babies. The babies, if they are male face an automatic death sentence as their lives are superfluous to human industry -- Since they do not produce milk, male calves are valued, not as living beings, but only for their flesh. After being separated from their mothers, male calves are placed in confining crates to keep them from moving and developing muscular strength. This is done to insure as tender slab of veal parmigiana.

Such brutality is made possible by a distorted view which places man at the top of a hierarchy, above the animals. With this view, sanctified by the juddeo.christian tradition, comes the right to slaughter, dismember, confine and cause psychological harm to them. This position is codified and re-enforced by the doctrine of dominion.

Attempts by religious scholars, of the Semitic tradition, are made to soften the brutal reality of dominion. It is not possible to soften the sharp blade of slaughter with lulling words that create a false sense of compassion. Just such an effort to mollify the cruelty of slaughter was made by Maimonides, revered Jewish scholar:

"It is prohibited to kill an animal with its young on the same day, in order that people should be restrained and prevented from killing the two together in such a manner that the young is slain in the sight of the mother; for the pain of animals under such circumstances is very great'' Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, 3:48

a veal calf with a mournful eye awaits his fate...

The despair in the face of this confined calf, as he awaits his rendez-vous with a trattoria, highlights the duplicity of removing a calf from his mother to spare her witnessing his slaughter. This entire charade is conducted to avoid psychological harm to the mother and her calf, yet the face of the calf belies myth. The sadness and worry in his eyes reveal profound psychological harm. The same agony is inflicted on the mother with the loss of her calf. The sorrow of a mother who loses a child whether she witnesses his death or not is always great.

The sacred bond between a mother and child is universally understood, but not honored by dominion for animals It is honored in cultures whose sense of compassion has been imbued and informed by ahimsa:

"For there is nothing inaccessible for death. All beings are fond of life, hate pain, like pleasure, shun destruction, like life, long to live. To all life is dear." Jain Acharanga Sutra.

This view respects the rights of a cow and her calf to remain together. There are no fine points to negotiate the proper time and place for slaughter. The mother and calf are never killed. The sanctity of life of of both a cow and her calf is protected. The calf is not considered human property, but belongs to his mother. With Ahimsa cattle and humans live in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship. In ahimsa influenced India, there are hundreds of thousands of gaushalas, cow sanctuaries, ranging in size from 1 to 3 or 4 cows to as many as 18,000. For the most part these cattle are treated well. The calf is protected by his mother and both are aided by human intervention. At a gaushala a new born calf is seen receiving a helping hand as he learns to stand on his feet: He will remain with his mother until both are ready to separate,

a helping hand...


The story of Lucky.... A fawn was born prematurely when his mother was killed by a car. He was named Lucky by those seeking to rescue and raise him. Instead Lucky was taken away and killed by protectors of the wilderness. The contradiction though glaring to those who rescued him, was just business as usual to individuals who understand that in the judeo.christian tradition, man has been given dominion over the animals and with it, the god-like power to determine who will live and who will die. These decisions are rooted not in compassion or reason, but in the need to maintain control at all costs over animal kind. To show mercy, would be to set a precedent which questions the mandate of dominion. There is no room for a show of compassion for an infant fawn , who must be killed to maintain the established order.

Lucky was killed because FWP ( Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks) legislation, founded on dominion, grants man the right to destroy with impunity any animal he chooses, for any reason excused as necessary: Under dominion animals such as deer, may be declared unworthy of rescue: No exceptions. It was more than law that killed lucky, it was law based on the biblical dictates of dominion, where-in mankind can exterminate any animal under the guise of human need.

In keeping with the mandate of dominion, the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has claimed its biblical right of supreme judge and executioner over wildlife. Despite the kindness of strangers, who rescued a fawn born prematurely, when his mother was killed by a car, FWP showed no mercy. With despotic precision, they obeyed the law:

"...all orphaned deer must be killed as a matter of policy. Lucky was put to death." Nathan Winograd

Certain animals, at certain times or under certain conditions may be spared, if it is beneficial for human enterprise, but no animal is ever unequivocally safe from the wrath of dominion. For injured or orphaned hoofed animals in Montana, rehabilitation is always prohibited:

"...prohibits the rehabilitation of ungulates at the centralized Wildlife Center in Helena or by any third party." FWP

Lucky was killed because he had hooves..

"Lucky was born under very tragic circumstances, yet was miraculously saved by caring Montanans -- only to be indefensibly killed by the government." Nathan Winograd

Ultimately Lucky was killed by religious doctrine that did not value his precious life.

oprhaned fawn in Uttar Pradesh...

A more fortunate fawn who lost his mother was born in uttar pradesh India,. was rescued, rather than killed, by Wildlife Services. This motherless child, though he has no name, was protected by the embrace of ahimsa...He was brought to the Karuna (compassion in Hindi) Society sanctuary where he will be hand raised by caring and gentle humans until he is able to fend for himself, then be returned to nature. If it is not possible to release him due to injury, he will remain at Karuna and be allowed to live out the rest of his live free from human harm. There will be no government officials brought in to drag him off and kill him. The fragility and miraculous life of this fawn is so carefully cherished as he is cradled in the lap of ahimsa. I wish him the best deer life, preserved by the compassion of ahimsa:

embraced by ahimsa..

as dominion marches on... Dominion marches relentlessly on with support from religious institutions and leaders empowered to grant the right to abuse animals. Tradition is honored as young children are taught to hunt and kill. The preservation of violence to animals remains solidly entrenched. It is with this fervor that dominion marches relentlessly forward, unchallenged and unquestioned.:

'Outreach Outdoors is a Christian hunting ministry aiming to spread the message of Jesus Christ to non-believers and challenge Christians to live a life of purpose'

'Outreach Outdoors is a Christian hunting ministry - what does this mean? It simply means that God wants to use our gifts and passions to glorify Himself. It doesn't matter what the avenue is - ours just happens to be hunting - but whatever it is, God wants to use it to draw people to Him. So, Christian hunting is, to us, going out on stand with the goal of experiencing God and making Him the goal, versus leaving disappointed that you went home empty-handed once again.'

It is not possible to undo a belief system founded on such violence, if the justification of human need is not disavowed. Kind words that follow murderous intentions preserve these intentions. It is not possible to push back dominion, rephrase it or repackage it as stewardship, so it sounds more palatable. The very meaning and intention of dominion grants man the right to exploit animals for human benefit. One may call it survival, need, gluttony or greed. The reality remains: animals may be violated for a wide array of perceived human agendas. Animals deserve the best possible defense, not one that preserves judeo.christian doctrine, but will never break a cycle of violence, based on the questionable sanctity of human rights and superiority. Such rhetoric just placates those who would kill into believing they are righteous and just.

a prayer for lucky...

To honor the short, tragic, yet wondrous life of lucky, the hope is offered that ahimsa may someday supersede dominion:

Dearest Lucky, Your birth was a miracle. Though your mother was killed, caring people rescued you so, that you could be nurtured and allowed to enjoy the life that nature intended. Sadly, your life was taken from you by those who did not understand just how precious each life is. Those who took your life were not born cruel. They were carefully taught that since you are not human, your life is dispensable. You had the misfortune to be born in a christian nation, where man's dominion reigns supreme over animals, where even gentle harmless creatures such as you are somehow viewed as a threat. If only you had been born somewhere with kinder, gentler values...I offer you a words from a religion that would have cherished your precious life:

"All beings with two, three, four or five senses in fact, all creation know individually pleasure and displeasure, pain, terror and sorrow. ALL are full of fears which come from all directions. And yet there exist people who would cause greater pain to them...Some kill animals for sacrifice, some for their skin, flesh, blood, feathers, teeth or tusks;...Some kill them intentionally and some unintentionally. Some kill because they have been previously injured by them...and some because they expect to be injured. He who harms animals has not understood or renounced deeds of sin...He who understands the nature of sin against animals is called a Sage." Jain Acharanga Sutra

Those of us who are heart-broken by the taking of your life, want you to know that you were loved and cherished for the short time that you lived...Your life will be a lesson to us, with the hope that one day the evil of dominion will lose its grip, hopefully to be replaced by the compassion of ahimsa.

May your gentle soul find bliss.

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