Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest today published an open letter to the owners and workers at the Conklin Dairy. For those not aware, a video has been widely shared, showing unbelievable cruelty to the animals at that dairy operation.
Please see the link for their full letter which includes a link to a petition; here are their opening remarks:
“Our daughter came to us last night urging us to watch the video of the abuse at your plant. She was overcome with grief that human beings could inflict such cruelty and unconscious hatred at the most benign of creatures and their infants. The shocking images were too much for her father and me but we watched enough to know where it led.
“There are moments in all our lives where we face our deepest, darkest truths.
“This is your moment.
“What will you do?”
… … … (Their letter continues).
News of this specific brutality gives us a great deal to think about – good reason to pause, reflect, think about “who we are” vs. “who we can be”.
That Curtis and Guest linked their letter to their daughter’s experience is particularly important.
Their observation : “..moments in all our lives where we face our deepest, darkest truths.” is also particularly important.
Elsewhere we have corrupt behavior from many managing corporations, we watch “leaders” succumbing to bribes, or manipulative pressure, to shape legislation and policy. We have earth trashed and lives suffering. We have great destruction.
We have widespread belief and practice of “slamming” others, of pointing out their ‘shortcomings’ with derisive laughter, of declaring enemies. We allow ourselves socially to think “put-downs” are good humor.
Economically we believe “the only way to survive is ‘play the game’, which often means withholding information, or intentionally manipulating emotions, or “spinning the facts” toward desired (“winning”) end.
Each of us falls into moments of corrupt behavior. This is local, this is national, this is global. It is what we humans have learned to do, and in doing it, we teach others. We teach children by demonstrating our technique, our “winning strategies”. We perpetuate lessons learned among ourselves by repeated corrupt behaviors, small of the moment, and much, much larger. The children, eventually, become “us” and the process continues.
If we take “deep” to mean “hard to reach”, and “dark” to mean “hard to see”, it is no surprise that aspects of ourselves may be “true” but also “unexamined.”
This is true of individuals. If that which is troubling is buried deeply enough, it can lead to behaviors that the ‘behaver’ may regret, yet not be able to manage.
I suggest we are in this state as a culture. I want to shift the focus from individual behavior to the general sweep of countless behaviors that keep the corruption going – as if it were in the very air we breathe!
I want to further suggest that no general culture escapes this – human nature brings with it a number of ‘less savory impulses’. These nudge and prod at us to commit small and much larger acts of corruption. We increase the difficulty faced by any individual who may be struggling to manage hris corrupt behavior – by either demonstrating the same, or appreciating it, or by preaching vengeance, which itself emerges from hurt, from agony.
I want to suggest this does not have to be a “stuck and forever perpetuating” condition. We are equally endowed with innate urge to compassion, to ‘straight talk’, to appreciation of, and honorable acts toward, all that lives. We can reach back in our memories to early witnessing of ‘senseless’ unkindness, brutality and cruelty. We can remember we were confused, shocked, possibly stunned to silence, and quite possibly not in a good situation to express how we felt.
To find a “new way”, we may have to acknowledge ‘deep and dark truth’, corruption, our role in it, as it exists in broad culture.
In closing, here is a copy of the comment I posted to the Curtis/Guest article:
“Thank you so much for linking this revealed cruelty to experience of children. As a retired teacher (mid-elementary) children have proven to me they intuitively recognize injustice and/or cruelty when they witness it. The event need not be this extreme. When children witness injustice and/or cruelty they look (literally) to adults, anticipating “someone with power will correct this”. Often, (especially if the event is mild), adults behave without justice or offer reassurance not backed up. Children also want firm, compassionate, even redemptive, justice toward the ‘offender’; vengeance disturbs them. Older children and adults often create brutality/injustice, ignore it, and further confusion of children by treating offenders as of no redeeming humanity. (Among themselves they are astonishing in acceptance of the best when it comes from those who otherwise create grief!) I have witnessed so much of this I’ve come to believe it’s innate. Early they begin to learn to ‘not trust’ or trust becomes very selective. They learn deep compassionate feelings are “not cool”. … so it goes. Eventually many, perhaps most, become the adults we find ourselves to be, we’ve forgotten what we ‘knew’. I did not view the video. I’ve raised various animals. All animals are, to me, subject to our awe, deep respect, and stewardship; magnificent in their own natures. As dreadful as is this situation, we can give it value. Through eyes and minds of children, we can remember what we knew, can heal, can find our way to a compassionate world.”
My Best, my Very Best, to each of you – to all of us and all that lives! –MaggieAnn