Love ≠ Harm
According to this article in the weekly times, the “love of cows” has brought farmer, Dustin Kemp, back to the dairy industry.
The article talks about Dustin’s roots as a dairy apprentice and the break he took from full-time work after losing his job. 10 years later he’s made a return to the dairy industry as a farm manager, because he “likes cows.”
I always find these sorts of stories disturbing because they highlight a failure of thought in our terminology – on both the individual and societal level. It is no wonder that our children grow up being incredibly confused about our relationship with other animals when you have parents telling them to love certain animals while killing others, and the media telling them that the ones we kill are “loved” too.
Depending on how far you take that trail of thought, if children are being taught that love can equate to harm and death, why are we surprised when they grow up perpetuating the horrifically violent society we have today? Isn’t it learnt behaviour? Think of all the violence that is committed in the name of “love” – to humans as well as nonhumans. It begins with what you put on your child’s plate every evening and what you put on their feet every morning. If you are feeding them the products of torture and death under the guise of “love,” then you are teaching them that the word “love” has no meaning other than being a device for justifying violence.
In portraying the enslavement, torture, rape, kidnapping, and murder of sentient beings as a form of “love,” not only are we are desensitizing children to violence, we’re bringing into existence generations of humans that believe love is consistent with violence. We are telling children that the two somehow go hand in hand.
When you accept the implications of this, it goes towards explaining a lot of our messed up behaviour. The idea that we can kill nonhumans “compassionately,” the idea that the rapist really did “love” the woman who didn’t give him consent; the child molester that “cared” about his victims, the wars fought for “love” of country. There is so much suffering and death justified by love that it’s difficult to keep track. We seem to have forgotten that everything done in its name is more akin to hate. Animal exploitation and our plethora of human injustices represent the very anti-thesis of love.
Yet still we tell our children that the dairy farmer, like Dustin, really did “love” his cows before he stole their babies and sent them to be killed. He really did “love” them when after 18 months their milk production had waned to a level that was economically unproductive and so killed them too, only to put their daughters on the same cycle.
Without veganism, “love” has no meaning other than being a death warrant for the vulnerable.