Activists + > Literature > Poetry
Where Do We Start?

by Bonnie Snider

Every animal advocate has that one pivotal moment in their life when they decide to do whatever they can to help in the plight of animals around the world. I remember vividly the day I watched the documentary, "Earthlings". That was the day that changed my life forever. While I had always been passionate about animals, seeing that documentary was monumental in my decision to dedicate what's left of my life to being an advocate for animals. But, animal advocates reaching that point have that one big question: Where do we start?

This is a poem that I wrote on a day when I was looking at the overwhelming list of horrors inflicted on innocent animals, and was trying to figure out just where to start in order to help in even a small way. Please indulge this writer as I share this poem with you.

Where Do We Start?
The task so daunting.
Where do we start?
Every second of every hour of every day
They die in terror and agony.
Some part of the livestock "food chain".
Some for their coats.
Some for the "delicacy" of their meat.
Some for "sport".
Some for the satisfaction of a sickness that defies explanation.
Some people react with no reaction.
"Better not to know."
Some react with knowledge, but wear blinders.
"What I don't know won't hurt me."
Some react with disgust, but beyond that - just empty words.
Some react with horror, but it's just too painful to see.
Some react with outrage and soul-wrenching pain and say
We must do something to stop this!
And then the inevitable....
Where do we start?
There are the shelters and rescues that never have enough room
Who face day in and day out the need to choose
Who lives another day to hope,
Who dies because hope is now lost,
Or are run by the very evildoers we need to fight;
Monsters dressed as doers of good.
There are the poor ones who live in the streets.
Fighting for the tiny scrap.
Terrified to trust.
Always on alert.
Targets of the most brutal of abuse, torture, death.
There are ones born and seconds later ripped from their loving mothers
Tied in crates to make pale flesh.
The mothers impregnated over and over until the body breaks down;
For the milk intended for that precious torn-away baby
That billions of humans consume.
There are those whose lives are spent never stretching legs,
Never being able to turn around,
Chewing at bars and hoping to find a way out.
There are those who live having tubes rammed into their throats
To make their livers sick.
So some even sicker "humans" can have the "delicacy".
There are those who are crammed in wire boxes,
Plucking out feathers, breaking legs,
Hearing only the constant noise.
No soft nest to lay their eggs.
There are those skinned alive for their fur or hides
So someone can drape it over their body
And feel as if they are something above everyone else,
At the cost of so many beautiful lives.
There are those stolen from their homes,
Or bred on farms whose only aim
Is to provide the labs with those creatures they can control
So they are able to do nightmarish experiments,
These current day Mengele types.
Our animal holocaust, growing every day.
There are those who are bred to run;
Dogs and horses from fine lineage on paper,
Culled out to keep the fastest ones.
The others expendable.
Easily hacked up and thrown away.
Shot, starved, mutilated, hung.
The mighty beasts upon whose backs so many countries were built;
Bred for light and fast.
Fragile legs that shatter and it's over in an instant.
All the while the other offspring or too-soon-spent
Loaded onto trailers out back of the stables bound for Canada or Mexico.
Or others of so many types, sent from one continent to another.
Thousands of miles over days;
No food, no rest � only fear, hunger, thirst, pain.
To be sent off overseas to satisfy the palates
Of the ones who don't want to see what they are causing.
There are the ones in homes that were supposed to grow trust and love,
But instead are a pulsing business grown on forcing
A gentle giant to lust for the blood of another.
Which they do because they want so much to please;
Any scrap of kindness gobbled up.
And they do what they are told they should....
To the death.
I see this.
I feel this.
I want to run from this.
I know it is not in me to run.
And I think to myself....
Where do we start?
The answer is simple really.
We start wherever we can gain a foothold.
Whether it be music that reaches both the mind and the soul;
Sprung from the hearts and talents of those who truly care.
Or the rescuers whose life's work it is to try to save
As many as can be saved with whatever they have to save them.
Or the ones who take the pictures that can blister the eyes
Of those who have never looked.
Or the ones in power who have not been tainted yet,
Who will fight where it has to be fought so that people sometimes pay
For the horrors they commit.
Or the ones who make the choice to eat a compassionate diet.
Personal, individual choices that still hugely impact
The bottom line of numbers of those for whom we are too late,
But for whose offspring we might not be.
Or those like me,
Whose bodies won't allow the physical battle,
But whose mind can somehow spin thoughts into written words
For others to take in and ponder,
And sometimes say, "That's how I feel!"
Creating a tiny bond.
We were made for this.
All the guardians of the precious, voiceless ones.
Armed with a sparkling prism of ways....
To start.
With every small victory that I find - I cheer, regroup, and get ready....
For the next round.
Until then I know tomorrow brings
Another wretched list of the daily results of the holocaust.
I will see the visions in my mind, which shrieks at me to stop looking,
But knows I can't stop.
The visions of their complete helplessness, their inability to even try to fight back....
Or even know if they should try.
I will hear the screams as they ring in my head
Echoing so loudly as if I am right there.
The witness of their confusion, terror, burning desire to live,
As their blood drains their life away.
We will look into the eyes of our own beloved animal companions
And see there reflected back their total immeasurable intelligence, love and devotion;
Their only desire to be everything they think we want them to be,
And know that to some they would be seen only as a pelt, dinner, or an object to inflict pain upon just for a momentary thrill.
And we will hug them close and let them know
We are fighting the good fight.
We are trying.
We are looking for that foothold.
We are making noise.
We are being heard more every day.

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