Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cultures of Violence

MNR and Haudenosaunee representatives at White Meadows
So it appears we’re going to have another native deer hunt in Short Hills. That will be the second one this year, only this time the park will be closed for all four weekends in November, up from two weekends back in January. 

The announcement came from the Ministry of Natural Resources on September 19 at White Meadows Farms in Pelham, where the MNR staged an impromptu open house to answer the public’s questions.

A few representatives of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy also attended, to clear up any misconceptions people might have about the “harvest” and why we (anyone not native to Canada) need to respect the natives’ culture.

Nearly every viewpoint was heard that night. Farmers who want the deer culled because they’re eating the crops, residents who want to protect the deer, local hunters angry that only natives can hunt in the park, people against treaty rights, tree huggers, animal rights activists, NIMBY’s and more.

Now I sympathize with the Haudenosaunee and what the “white man” did to their ancestors, how they were driven off their lands and how they’re struggling to keep their traditions alive today.

It was our culture of violence that was responsible for almost wiping them off the map. Our progenitors saw themselves as “superior” to the so-called savages and this arrogance justified the near-annihilation of them. It was a terrible time in our history and I hope it is never repeated.

But the natives also perpetuate this culture of violence. They see the deer as resources, things to be "harvested", as if these animals were fruits and vegetables. They see themselves as "superior" to other forms of life, as if all the earth were here for them to do as they please.

Just as we do. We exterminate, slaughter, hunt and “harvest” any and every species that gets in our way, has a pleasing taste or gives a good chase. I can’t look at a native hunter as the “bad guy” while my own people commit even worse atrocities to other sentient beings.

When asked why the natives have to kill deer that are so habituated to human beings it’s like shooting fish in a barrel (according to the MNR, Short Hills is the first provincial park to allow hunting since the late 1970’s) the Haudenosaunee ambassador replied, “Don’t you eat chickens?”

He makes a good point. With the exception of a few vegetarians and vegans in the audience, everyone there that night eats animals of one kind or another. Why are we so appalled at the killing of a few doe-eyed ungulates but don’t think twice about the animals we eat three times a day?

The cows, pigs, chickens and other animals we breed, raise and butcher for food are just as vulnerable, just as cute and just as worthy of our compassion as those whitetail deer. We chastise one culture of violence but fail to acknowledge our own.

If you really care about animals and want to reduce the amount of suffering and violence in the world, go vegan.

No comments: