Okay, so time for a more serious post. I hope you’ll stick with me long enough to read this one through.
I’m sure everyone has seen those horrific photos on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet. The ones that show an animal starving or abused or neglected. They’re horrendous and just who the hell wants to see them anyway? Ye Gads, once they’re seen it’s difficult if not impossible to un-see them. It just ruins a person’s day (I had someone tell me that once). Honestly, I understand just where those people are coming from. I hate the photos for the very same reasons. I’ve always had a problem with getting images out of my head. Some people can’t stand to see horrible things, but I take it further in that once I see something horrific or disturbing, I can’t seem to get rid of the image…ever. It stays with me, in my head, and pops back up at the oddest and most inopportune times. Of course, it’s the emotion that is behind the image that stays with me….but it is the visual that truly haunts me. Forever. It’s like a kind of demented eidetic memory.
But you know what? These photos are necessary. It’s easy to say “I know what happens; I don’t need to see it.” That really isn’t true though is it? I mean, being told “that dog was starved to death,” isn’t nearly as moving as seeing a dog that had been starved to death. Sometimes words just aren’t enough. And of course that’s what makes people so angry….the photos hurt their heart.
I support the fight against animal cruelty in all forms but I especially work towards ending horse slaughter. It’s such a needless and inhumane business. And I know that by supporting animal advocacy groups I’m helping to keep animals from being exploited and slaughtered and I realize that raising awareness is the key to change. But I’ve often wondered if I can continue to deal with the constant horrific images floating around in my head and in my heart.
I had a revelation one night and it came, as they usually do I guess, through a dream. I dreamed of watching a horse slaughter transport truck go down the highway from a spot high above on a rocky hill, and seeing a horse, a splendid fawn colored, spotted horse, falling out of the truck thru a gap at the top of the side wall. In real life, this would of course be physically impossible…but then…this was a dream. And in my dream, the truck was so completely overloaded that it caused her to fall out, to basically be forcibly shoved out through a small gap in the sidewall of the truck. In my dream I sat there gasping in horror as the horse fell completely out of the truck. I was just sure it was dead because there was no way it could survive the fall, let alone make it off the busy highway without being hit. Instead, to my absolute delight, it ran across the highway and up the hill where I was sitting. It came to my vehicle and leaned down to look in the open window as if to talk to me. I looked into its sensitive eyes and face, knowing that it was free of the horrors that had awaited it, that it had escaped, and I was inspired by the hope I saw there. I awoke with this amazingly beautiful image in my mind.
And that, people, is the image that will be sticking with me from now on, regardless of anything else that I might see. That horse, that one magnificent horse, can turn into hundreds and into thousands and then tens of thousands of horses that are saved from future slaughter, from future horrors that they do not deserve. That image of hope in her soulful eyes, of future, and of survival moved me far more than the horrific pictures I’ve seen.
It moved me more because that horse represents everything animal advocates, myself included, work towards. Her heroic escape from an overloaded truck headed for a slaughter-house, gallant run to safety, and entrance into freedom represents a journey. It is a journey that we must all take to stand up for the rights of animals who cannot stand up for themselves. It is a journey that requires facing our fears and standing up to evil itself. It is a journey of hope and hope is what gives us all the strength to fight animal cruelty every day. Hope is so much stronger than evil. Hope can move mountains and save horses.