Introduction to Ahimsa

There can be no life without death. While death is unequivocal, suffering varies in kind, amount, and degree, but likewise seems to be inescapable. People like to think of themselves as being kind and compassionate, or least as not being cruel and hardhearted. But how do we respond the all the suffering and death in the world and in our lives, especially considering that suffering and death are intrinsic to the natural world? Life springs from death, but unless our suffering is extreme and death offers the only way out, we want to live, and it’s reasonable to assume that others, man or beast, also want to live. As far as nonhuman animals are concerned, the question of suffering is particularly relevant today, because the vast, vast majority of us in America are far removed from live animals in agriculture, our first contact with them coming in the form of animal products. (As I’ll discuss in future posts, the response of some people to the horrors of factory farming is to buy locally produced animal products, or to buy those labeled as humane (free range, cage free, etc.), but generally, the practices used by these sources fall short.) (This post and this blog will center on practices in the U.S., as that’s where I live, and where I’m best able to make a difference.)

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