Animals a Priority
Pope Francis’ encyclical speaks often about animals, and calls on humans to embrace a more humane path. The title, Laudato si (“Praised Be”), comes from Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun, which praises God for animals and creation. This Pope is a modern day St. Francis.
Il Papa makes it quite clear: “Every act of cruelty towards any creature is ‘contrary to human dignity.’” This interpretation of the Bible aligns him more with Eastern religious teachings, than with Western materialists, who have conveniently misinterpreted the scriptures.
Pope Francis seeks to correct the misunderstanding: “Our ‘dominion’ over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.” He calls for an “integral ecology”, to heal the fragile web we share with the earth and its creatures,
“Human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin.” (http://www.jesuspeopleforanimals.com)
Francis says that the ecological crisis is primarily a spiritual crisis, and calls on us to resist the quick and easy path of consumerism, and the lure of blind capitalism. As consumers, we give little thought to the depths descended and corners cut to bring cheap food to our tables. As usual, the poor and animals are hit hardest by our greed and ignorance.
Factory Farms Harmful
Factory farms are a classic example. Most meat, chicken, eggs and dairy comes from abused, constrained and inflamed animals. Unhealthy animal products are then fed to us and our children, and cause as much harm as good. We make animals suffer for profit, then they make us suffer in return.
Inflammation comes from heavily sprayed GMO grains and corn fed to cattle (and to humans). All the beneficial fats, antioxidants and nutrients from grazing are missing. The anti-inflammatory omega-3s go way down, and the balance between omega-6s and omega-3s becomes pro-inflammatory. Iodine (the thyroid mineral) vanishes, and immune-boosting CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) disappears. These toxic foods may contribute to fatigue, depression, infection, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Inflammation also comes from a variety of toxins that factory farm animals are subjected to, like antibiotics, hormones and pesticides. Much of this toxicity ends up in the fat of the animal. Antibiotics also contribute to the emergence of resistant superbugs. Waste from these farms contaminates the environment, and contributes to climate change. And significantly more fuel is needed to make food on factory-farms, than when pasture raised. Is a cheap steak really cheap when you consider its impact on our world?
If you care about animals, the environment you live in, and being in harmony with the world, it’s time to take action. Call your congress person, give to charities like Global Citizens, or get involved with groups trying to make a difference. Force change with your dollar, by not investing in Big Agra and the chemical polluters. Make a difference by choosing healthier animal foods, i.e., local, organic, biodynamic, grass-fed and free-range. In doing so, you minimize animal cruelty, save energy, increase nutrition and reduce pollution. Reduce your carbon footprint by decreasing your use of energy, water and disposables, using energy from sustainable sources, and purchasing energy-efficient houses, autos and appliances, to name a few.
The Pope called “for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.” Then he put it bluntly: “God will judge you on whether you cared for the Earth”. This aligns the concept of sin in Catholicism closer to Buddhist thinking. Again, Pope Francis is bridging the divide and uniting people of all faiths.
It’s inspiring to see such a beautiful man stand up for love and kindness. Treating the animals, ourselves and each other, and the planet better could transform the world.