Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Ambiguous lines

poplar spring chicken

We have all these lines in society, in our culture, in our thoughts, and in our language. The -isms, the classifications. They’re all taught, and then we spend the rest of our lives unlearning them. Or trying to.

Egg-laying hens, broiler chickens, free-range chickens… what difference does it make to them? Institutionalized, their lives are the same, except the chickens raised for meat suffer less time in their cramped quarters before they are slaughtered. As individuals, their human-imposed classification doesn’t matter to them. They all want to live normal chicken lives, and given the chance that is what they do.

rescued broiler chicken at poplar spring The roosters gather hens and protect them. They squabble about who is going to be boss. They cluck at each other, form bonds, and mourn when their friends and partners die. What difference does it make to them what they were bred for?

Ducks have an even more confused place in peoples’ minds. There are so many that are bred for human plates, but ducks are also animals that we see often outside of farms, free ducks living their self-determined lives. And they are also animals that get hunted by people with guns. Yet I think the average person would be shocked if a hunter showed up at the local pond or river and started shooting at the ducks bathing and sunning themselves there. They’d probably try to stop the hunter. Most people I know have a real aversion to the thought of duck meat, regardless of whether they eat other kinds of meat. They generally don’t look to closely as to why.

Because what is the difference between the duck and the chicken, really? Or the chicken and the cat or dog? They’re all sentient individuals. They all want the same basic things out of their lives. None of them are property. The lines we draw are so ambiguous they can’t stand up to close examination.

Racism, speceism, sexism, classism, and all the other -isms…we’re born with none of them, we’re taught them. And if one can be unlearned, so can the others.

sheep, geese, and ducks at poplar spring


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