This past week of April, the students at EMIS had the exuberant pleasure of assisting the HaKfar campus with its numerous commonalities. The work detail of the EMIS students is not a rare thing, however its participation, dignified commitment and actual attendance are.
Although not explicitly, the work for the week was simply more overbearing than usual. The EMIS students had more to do, less time to do it, and even had the grandiose task of preparing Shabbat dinner. Above these difficulties however, the EMIS body managed to complete all tasks it was assigned, with the brightest of attitudes and the fullest commitment. It was the dedicated work of our students who worked tirelessly not for themselves or for their own benefit but for a community, the EMIS community. It was the labor of a family, willing to secede a little of their own needs, intentions, necessities for something a little bigger of few more people.
None of this could have been achieved if it was not for the immutable work of Yoav Bar-ness and Yaara Israel, who both prepared the lists of volunteers and made sure they attended the work duty. Special mention should also go to the lads who washed the dishes with an elation unseen before. Their spirit and time was a bolster to the very name EMIS carries.
However, one detail of work requires a bit more examination and less careful handling. A personal experience, the people who worked at the cows and the dairy understand best of all what will now be explained.
While at our school, the topic of veganism is no small matter, it seems there is little if not counterintuitive effect when a single person’s voice claims that the consumption of milk or eggs is wrong. Another, entirely different matter is to witness the atrocities of the dairy itself. However, this is by no means a piece meant to aid the Vegan philosophy, if anything it should be considered as far from it as possible. This should be considered on the most practical of terms.
We have all heard and seen a work of science fiction or a dystopian novel, centered on turning humans into cereal, or sausages. Braining washing, spying, human engineering, lobotomies, and this ilk is not a work of fiction, they exist; even heard at the Hakfar campus.
The question remains, why, when we envision with such vividness these fresh hells, do we subject our animals to their equivalent? As one watches the cows, covered in mire, their own filth, unable to move walk outside of their own excrement. They have no escape from the smell, or the same conditions without end. The same cramped, banal conditions.
They are sent through a line where they are then consecutively milked, 12 at a time by a sourly filthy machine. While working, there is no doubt the cows dislike the experience. They kick and fret. And while one may simply call and clap for them to follow your lead, more experienced workers at the Hakfar dairy have no intention of patience. They adopt an approach which may cause you to cringe, as the sound of heavy whipping trims the air. Even when one of the older workers brings out a metal bar, and with a sly smile declares, “In Hebrew we call this: Cow kicks no more,” before letting out a spat of nefarious laughter. The bar is then “positioned” between the joint and the stomach, not permitting the cow to raise its leg. If this method also seems to fail, there is also the method of violently and with force tugging at the tail of the creature until it does one’s will.
There is nothing surreptitious about the matter. There is pain, throughout the entire situation, and it is painless to administer if you are willing to see the udders above you as simply the ends of milk bags.
However, venture to examine the eyes, the souls of such creatures and there is something beyond explanation. You can see there, the fear, the uncontrollable fear within these eyes. The wide eyed creature helpless frightened and unable to explain what is transpiring, is a sight which leaves the impression of utmost emotional trauma.
These beings feared us, fear us.
The eyes, if where to say anything, asked, “Why? Why me?” They demanded why this punishment and pain had been given to them.
It is reminiscent of science fiction horror, books and movies of dystopia, and even if I was to venture to a new degree, the Holocaust we commemorated this past week as well.
They looked like humans, frightened, desperate to at least receive an answer for this pain this fate. They simply wanted to understand why this was to be.
What came to mind was the quote by Stephen King, the master of the horror genre, “Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there is little fun to be had in explanations, they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear.” As the video game, Alan Wake later counters to the quote:
In a horror story, the victim keeps asking, “Why?” But there can be no explanation, and there shouldn’t be one. The unanswered mystery is what stays with us in the end.”
What logic exists in this suffering? What reason and justification could we give these poor animals, which albeit in-human in all nature and reasoning, are forced to become human through a single emotion, through a single feeling, “Fear.”
That is the human legacy. That is what we work for. Unless, there is a change, an alteration to the way in which we deal with life.
How can we treat ourselves, humanely, in any dignified manner, if to another creature, we administer the horrors we only dream and imagine.
Why have we re-enacted our horror stories on life? Why have we made them real? Why do we think they should be real? Deserve to be real?
We have manifested the worst of nightmares. They are ready for us, the dystopia has already been created, is already ready for us. Waiting.
Waiting till the last of decency is lost to men, amongst men.
Written by Carlos Sevilla
Edited by Peter Mangi
Copy-edited by Maria Tirnovanu
Photo credit to Yoav Bar-ness