Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Message of Small (and Great) Importance

Originally sent 10/31/04:


I spoke with my Mom tonight. No word yet on whether or not she has the B2 cancer, but we're still hopeful. She said she'll probably find out at her therapy session on Monday, but that is not why I'm writing this email...

I'm writing to you tonight on a matter of small and great importance. Small because the matter itself is small and not very significant in the whole realm of our lives. Great because its potential for hurt feelings is unpredictable. Obviously that is a road we don't want to travel and even more obviously you and Evan are very important to us and wouldn't want you to feel hurt in any way.

Last year you made a contribution in our names to the Heifer Project for 1/3 of a goat. At the time I wrote back and told you that it was a unique and thoughtful gift and it was. We totally understood your feelings and motivations, and on the surface supporting such a cause looks like an altruistic act, but the reality is much more complex.

Many non-profit organizations fall into the age-old trap of assuming that the American way of doing things is the best thing for the third world. In most cases after the supporters have finished cheering from the front porch the Law of Unintended Consequences always comes through the back door where no one is expecting it. In the case of the Heifer Project they're trying to export American farming techniques and the results more often than not includes deforestation, the disconnection of the land from the people, increased mortality from imitating American diets, economic hardship, etc.

Here is an article that explain more fully what I'm talking about: What's wrong with the Heifer Project. If you really have some time you might peruse this one too: The Meat Mob Muscles In.

As vegetarians we of course want to support groups and organizations that promote those ideals, but we're not as a matter of practicality against the consumption of meat. As much as we might think it would be better for the world if everyone became herbivores, we also recognize that it's a pipe dream that will never happen. The best we can do therefore is to support those organizations that promote the humane treatment of domestic farm animals the world over. Among other things this means eradicating American-style factory farming techniques which has helped to turn animals in the eyes of Americans from sentient beings into product. The Heifer Project, for all it's good intentions, is another small brick in a wall that we want torn down.

Not that I'm making assumptions, but just in case you were considering making a contribution in our names to a non-profit organization this year I was hoping that you would be open to some suggestions. What follows is a list of organizations any one of which would be most welcome to make a contribution to in our names:We hope your feelings haven't been hurt by this email. We should have sent it last year, but we were afraid.

Much love, Joe & Donna

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