There is a gorgeous ritual, devised by John Seed and Joanna Macy, known as the Council of All Beings. Participants embody a nonhuman entity or species and speak for it. There are lots of ways to participate, ranging from mask-making and embodiment to speech; the idea is to offer, in a humanly understandable form, some insight into the ways in which human activities are affecting nonhuman life.
With so much human suffering embroiled in my work–prison suffering, plague suffering, fire suffering, protest suffering–it is easy to get caught up and forget that the conflicts that now seem vitally important to us are completely irrelevant to most of the natural world, and yet they affect it in horrendous ways. In many ways, the upcoming election is a desperate fight for the future of the planet by the one species with the power to destroy it all. But sometimes my attention is drawn to the suffering of nonhumans swept–as victims, as unwilling participants–in our all-too-human brawls.
Last week, my heart broke about the dead chicks caught in the war to preserve the post office. True, the chicks were destined to go to farms, where their lot in life would be miserable, but can you, for just one second, let your heart beat like the heart of a suffocating chick, terrified and overpowered and without any understanding of what is happening?
Today, I hear from my parents and friends about how the Israeli police has been using police horses to tame and overpower the protesters against Netanyahu. There’s a lawsuit arguing that the horses–wild, free, beautiful–are extremely stressed and frightened in these roles, and that driving them into crowds, noise, and violence is anathema to their nature. The very use of horses by police is sickening to me. What are police doing with horses anyway? Are we in the 1300s? What in the world is this medieval shite?
Nonhuman animals should never be used as pawns in the hellish situations we humans devise for each other. Animals should not be coerced into servitude, especially not in the service of these horrific institutions/situations.