<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Another World Is Possible 

(This will be the last guest editorial from pattrice as we begin to wrap up the 'thon. It's been a very long day and night spent constantly working to blog away for a good cause, but we have almost made it! It took lots of effort and lots of coffee, but we have really been inspired by all of the interest in our blog since this whole thing began. And we really love that even the so-called "little people" can and do make a difference in the world. Even if most of you don't know it, there are many people working very hard every day with little or no recognition for their efforts. Hopefully we have helped to change at least some of that. Our last entries will be our own and will be more personal, so stay tuned.)

The 2001 Rome Social Forum convened on the site of a former stockyard and slaughterhouse. Standing on the cobblestones of a courtyard populated by bellowing ghosts, I could feel the fear of frantic animals every time I looked at the series of iron gates leading to what must have been the building for killing. Inside that building, rusted hooks and trolleys menaced from above as one French feminist, one Italian anarchist, and I from the USA struggled to understand each other's ideas about ecofeminism despite our language differences.

In the other building were the speeches. I gave one about factory farming and was cheered by people used to thinking only about human rights. Outside later, I shivered in the chill of the advancing night as young punks hurried to set up the communal sleeping area. Enjoying my warm coat and my belly full of vegan pizza, I hoped that the young activists all would be similarly warm and well fed that night.

Seeing a Partito Comunista Rifondazione official, I stepped up and introduced myself. I knew that this cheerful and hearty man recently had given a speech denouncing egg factories. Even though the speech was to other communist party members, he did not limit his remarks to economic problems like environmental despoliation and the displacement of family farms. Instead, he focused on the suffering of the chickens, describing the plight of the caged hens in such poignant terms that strong men were moved to tears.

"Thank you," I said as I showed him photographs of former egg factory inmates living at our sanctuary in rural Maryland. He looked sad as he saw what the factory had done to the beaks and bodies of the birds but brightened as subsequent photographs showed the hens looking healthy and happy after several months of good care.

English was not his strongest language but he knew how to say the most important thing. Pointing to a picture of a hen perched in a tree, he sighed and said "free."

The slogan of the Social Forum movement is "Another world is possible."

In my future Utopia, all of the slaughterhouses have been converted to forums for peace and freedom where we bridge differences to build a green future without ever forgetting the mistakes of the past. The young people have ensured that everyone has a place to sleep. The communists understand that animals also are alienated from themselves by capitalism. Delicious vegan pizza is always right around the corner.

And all of the birds are free.


Pattrice Jones operates the Eastern Shore Sanctuary and Education Center in a rural region dominated by the US poultry industry. The sanctuary was a founding partner in the Global Hunger Alliance, which Jones coordinates.
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