Nature, animals, humankind … make the connection. That is the tagline of this award-winning documentary film (@EarthlingsMovie
on Twitter) about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets
, entertainment and medical research. I would like to share a few lines from their homepage
that describe the documentary
, its impact and its making.
“Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs. The film is narrated by Academy Award® nominee Joaquin Phoenix and features music by platinum-selling recording artist Moby. Initially ignored by distributors, today EARTHLINGS is considered the definitive animal rights film by organizations around the world. ….. Nation Earth was established to produce documentary films on socially urgent issues. EARTHLINGS, released in 2005, was the company’s first feature film and is the first of a documentary trilogy. The company is currently at work on the second instalment, UNITY, which will explore the unifying force of consciousness found in nature, animals and humankind. UNITY is scheduled to be completed in 2009.”
Now I must warn my readers, as does the trailer of the documentary at the start, the footage in the documentary is very graphic. I had to stop watching the trailer half way through. But that is exactly the kind of “shock treatment” impact needed to get anything past our thick skulls. I’d say it is appropriately named “the Vegan maker” as it will not be surprising if you feel squeamish eating any kind of meat after you’ve watched this documentary. However, my view about this whole issue is very different from most people (as it is on many other topics
like human history
If we look around, we see that food chains exist on our planet, one species being dependent on the other for their dietary needs. Plants don’t consume any other species but simply CO2 and use sunlight. But from there upwards, someone consumes someone else, be it the herbivores, carnivores or omnivores. Nature
has designed us all to consume one or the other of our fellow earthlings. So then how are us humans different? We should not feel bad about eating other earthlings for our nutrition. However, there IS a difference between us and all the other species that we have morals. The lion doesn’t think of the deer’s suffering before digging his sharp teeth into its tender flesh. But nature has given the ability to understand other earthlings’ suffering. Shouldn’t we be using that ability when dealing with other earthlings?
I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking, “So you’re telling me, it is OK to kill the animals only if we do it in a way that they don’t suffer?” Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying. One species killing and consuming the other is a law of nature. Because if you say I don’t want any killing to be done at all for my needs, then you’d have to stop eating! Now you’ll say, “I’ll turn vegan/vegetarian/herbivore.” So my question is, just because you don’t see blood pouring out of a tomato or a banana doesn’t scream and protest when you detach them from the plant, you categorise that as “not killing” them? Think about it. Aren’t we being biased in our definition of violence and killing? So I don’t get this whole point of being Vegan. You are still eating someone … they’re just not as animate as some others whom us omnivores eat. Being herbivore or carnivore or omnivore is everyone’s choice. But no one should fool themselves
in thinking they’re helping the planet by choosing to be herbivores. You’re still using plants and animals for other purposes than food. If you really want to help the planet, strike a balance. Us humans have made this mistake too many times. We go all out in doing something and then when the ecosystem is out of balance due to it, we chose to completely stop doing it and feel proud of ourselves for stopping. No, that’s not how the Earth works. She wants a balance of everything. And all we’ve given here over and over again are extremes.
Because of our inherent intelligence, we have worked out ways of using our fellow earthlings for more than just nutrition. We make everything, from all sorts of basic commodities to absolutely unnecessary embellishments out of these species, plants and animals. So using these earthlings for food is only a part of our reckless consumption. What needs to stop is being reckless, not the consumption. What needs to stop is cramming of cows and pigs and chickens into “inhumanly” small spaces because we just need more of them. What needs to stop is making their life hell when they’re alive even if we are eventually going to kill them. What needs to stop is killing of snakes and seals and whales and tigers for the use of their respective body parts till only the last few of them remain on this planet. What needs to stop is capturing of animals from the wild and their confinement into cages for our entertainment, their abuse while being trained to do “acts” that nature never intended them to do. We need to acknowledge the right of other species to flourish on this planet and be able to live a good life. There are 6 billion of us on this planet. That’s a big number when it comes to making a difference … only if we chose the right direction
Update (12 Jun ’09): Two of my blogger friends, Linda MB Hughes and Sandip Sen, got inspired by my blog post and have written their own posts about the movie and their feelings after watching it. Must reads!