“Every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward—by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace…”
—President John F. Kennedy, excerpt from speech at American University
I believe that the fundamental guiding energy of the universe is love, and that peace is a close second—if it’s not a form of love itself. I believe that when we stand up for animals we stand up for love and peace, and we stand against the destructive, nihilistic forces of the universe—I will not call them “energies” since I believe they are basically the opposite of that, they are more like energy vacuums—those of war and violence, hatred, and greed.
For this reason I believe it is important to honor the slain President John F. Kennedy, a man who ultimately stood for peace and love. He was struck down 50 years ago on November 22, 1963, a dark day for America and for the world, as well as for love and peace.
Right before President Kennedy was murdered, he delivered a commencement speech at American University that was all about peace and love. Keep in mind that this was delivered at the height of the Cold War, when the “Communist menace” engendered fear, hatred, and paranoia throughout the country, and many in Kennedy’s military and cabinet believed that war with the Soviet Union was inevitable. Here are a couple of excerpts:
“What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children—not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.”
“I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary, rational end of rational men. I realize the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war, and frequently the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.”
The Warren Report, the shoddiest, most cynical document of omissions, distortions, and lies in the history of American justice, its day-to-day “investigation” led by one of President Kennedy’s greatest enemies, former head of the C.I.A. Allen Dulles—is somehow all these years later still being propagandized as the truth by the mainstream media machine.
What does this have to do with animals?
I believe that those of us who do stand for love and peace yet turn away when it comes to the truth of what is on our plates, when we close our eyes to what goes on in the factories and laboratories that are shuttered in the dark, desolate corners of our country, where beings of love and innocence are daily brutalized, tortured, and murdered in the millions, their cries of help falling on deaf ears—this is of the same stuff as our looking away from the truth of the Kennedy assassination. In both instances, love and peace are dishonored.
Most of us with common sense and a willingness to pursue the facts know that the assassination of President Kennedy was political and not carried out by a lone nut, and we know that factory farming and laboratory testing is savage and inhumane (not to mention bad for our collective health). Yet to look closer at these truths, to really look, then we have to look at ourselves, we have to look closely at two pillars of our very existence: what we eat and what we believe.
We must open our eyes to the consequences of not confronting violence, hatred, and greed, we must open our eyes to what rushes in to fill the vaccuum left by our apathy and fear: perpetual wars, perpetual need, perpetual division, the bleeding away of our rights, the endless suffering of both humans and animals.
We have to look at what kind of society and what kind of democracy we live in, we have to look at what our lives really mean.
And we begin by looking inward, as President Kennedy says.
I believe to live lives that truly honor love and peace we must do this. There is just no other way.