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TEDxFruitvale – Wayne Pacelle – Animals, Humans: We’re All Connected


Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Mile Živković … planned to be with this
incredible cast of speakers. I’m deeply moved by what I’ve heard and I’m looking forward
to hearing somebody with the other observations today. Let’s see if this is working. Yeah. So, as you heard, I’m with The Humane Society
of the United States. So, this may seem like a little bit of a turn in the road on this issue, but I don’t think it is, in any way. And you can see from our logo that we work to protect all animals, whether it’s animals on puppy mills, or animals that were victims
of animal fighting operations, or killing of whales or seals, or animals on factory farms. And the fundamental issue that we work on at The Humane Society
of the United States, or that we seek to address, is the misuse of power. In the relationship
between humans and animals, we hold all the cards, we have all the power. And I have always thought
was a basic test of our humanity about how we treat those
who are powerless before us. And this is a question
of how we use power, and how we handle this immense authority that we have over other creatures. And, also the clock isn’t going yet. So, if you could start that clock…
(Laughter) And, for me, I felt a real kinship and a bond with other animals when I was a child. That’s not me, but — (Laughter) That connection
between humans and animals is an enduring one. It’s been seen
through all of human history, it’s had different manifestations
in different times, but there is a connection
between us and other animals. All of us feel it, and kids, especially,
feel this connection. And we are living in a moment of incredible contradiction, in terms of our relationship with animals. We have so many expressions of love and appreciation for animals. Yet, we also have so much cruelty, on a vast scale. And one of the enterprises
that we’re engaged in is trying to have people live up to this kind of instinctive connection
we have with animals, and to honor that relationship
in so many ways. And, you know, one might think that it’s a narrow question
about how we treat animals, but, in my work, I see every day, that the issue of cruelty can never be just confined to animals. When you’re cruel to animals, it fans out and radiates out
throughout society. And the converse is also true, that when we’re kind
and compassionate to animals, that kindness also radiates out. You know, when we see
animal cruelty in a household, if the dog is being abused, if a cat is being abused, if some other creature’s being abused, in 75% of those settings there’s also some other form
of domestic violence. One day, it’s the animal. Another day, it’s a child. Another day, it’s a spouse. When we raid a dogfighting operation, we don’t just see people
who just happen to think this is fun to watch dogs
attack and kill each other. We see other criminal activity. We see so many other expressions of a loss of empathy
and a loss of decency. So, our enterprise has
never been just about being kind to animals. It’s about increasing the quotient
of decency and kindness that exists throughout our society. And, when we look at the issue
of agriculture, which as has been said before, is one of the fundamental
human enterprises — I mean, let’s face it. These are living, breathing,
feeling creatures. They want to avoid pain and suffering just as much as we want to avoid it. They want to live
as much as we want to live. They don’t want to be tormented. And yes, using animals in food production means that the animals
are at least going to have one very bad day. But agriculture represented
this notion of a bond for so many hundreds of years,
and thousands of years, that there was a connection
between the farmer and the animal. It was called animal husbandry. But we moved away from that, and we moved away from
this notion of the farmer tending to his or her flock, and we moved to the days of meat science, where animals were treated as things, or objects, or instrumentalities. They were really,
in our modern industrial age, and really, in the last 50 years, they’ve been turned into meat,
milk and egg producing machines. In a system that treats
the animals as objects and commodities, that practices that mentality
of losing empathy, is it very much of a big step to then dehumanize the workers who are thrust into that very system? I mean, isn’t it really about
the misuse of power, and how, in so many ways, that same expression of misuse of power, that abuse of power — one day it’s the animal victim, another day it’s the worker, in the slaughterhouse? I mean, these things are connected, and we should never
be seduced by this notion that we’re all siloed in our little unit, and that these things
aren’t more fundamental in terms of the enterprise. You know, agriculture has changed so much. And, of course,
we have so many small farmers who are honoring that
standard of animal husbandry today and properly caring for the animals. But now, we have these
enormous industrialized farms and animal agriculture. And here, with these enormous buildings where animals are crammed side by side, sometimes in cages and crates barely larger than their bodies
and unable to move, we don’t even know
what animals are on this farm! It could be pigs, it could be turkeys,
it could be chickens. But there are thousands of them
if they’re the mammals, or there are of hundreds
of thousands of them if they’re the birds, set in these windowless houses, crammed so tightly
that they can’t even turn around. That means that
we’re concentrating manure. It means we’re concentrating
all of the waste. It means that the air
that the animals breathe in is the same air
that the workers breathe in, that’s ammonia latent, that’s filled with toxins that make this a fundamentally
unhealthy environment for everybody who’s involved
in the enterprise. And, of course, this is so toxic
that it flows out. See that manure lagoon? It can leach into the ground water. It pollutes the air
for half a mile, or a mile. It makes living
in these communities terrible. We’ve just worked with some folks in the Central Valley of California, where a huge egg farm was their neighbor, with 750,000 birds. They couldn’t even leave
their home, the neighbors. And if they did, their clothes smelled. Their quality of life was destroyed by this industrial farming operation. And, you know, we’ve done
undercover investigations and really looked behind the scenes. This was a plant in Chino, California, the Hallmark/Westland plant,
that was specializing in slaughtering spent dairy cows. These cows had been engineered to produce enormous volumes of milk, so much so that it taxed their system. And then, when they were used up,
they weren’t retired somewhere. They were sent to a slaughter plant
to be turned into cheap ground beef. And this system was so ruthless
with these animals that they were landing at this facility, with an inability to walk. They were non-ambulatory —
some of them were. And the workers were told,
“Get those animals moving! “Get them moving!” They were ordered to treat these animals like things. And if you go inside this slaughter plant, especially the beef slaughter plants, the workers are taking the animals apart,
piece by piece, and they’re making repetitive motions to cut the animals up. And those repetitive motions,
just like we heard with the strawberry pickers — it leads to carpal tunnel syndrome, it leads to other physical ailments. We’re talking about sharp equipment, where people get cut and people get injured all the time. I mean, we’re talking about a system where those overseeing it are concerned about
production and efficiency, and they’ve forgotten
about the other values that make us the society
that we want to achieve, and the society that we want to be. Now, you look at — this was an investigation
we did at Smithfield, the largest hog producer in the world. You see that these sows
are kept in tiny cages, so they can’t turn around. They bite on the bars
hour after hour, day after day, so much so that it chafes their skin, it causes them to bleed. You can see blood on the concrete. These are intelligent animals! They never get a chance to do more than take one step forward
and one step back for their entire lives. Seven, eight, nine,
ten successive pregnancies, and then they’re not productive and they’re sent off to slaughter
for some cheap, poor product that goes into a soup or a pot pie. The ammonia that these animals
are breathing in, the stench that they’re breathing in, that’s the same smell
that the workers are breathing in, with no protections,
and medical care, all the basics. There’s a reason that,
in the slaughterhouses, the turnover in some of them
is 100% from year to year! I mean, people who want a job, who are hard working, who endure so much misery, they can’t even handle it! And the turnover happens. I mean, the people and the animals
are just property to be moved in and out of this system. Chickens. You know, you can find them
in tiny battery cages, with each bird getting
67 square inches of space, less space than an
8.5 x 11 piece of paper. Now, are we this miserly as a species that animals who give up
their lives to us, that we treat them in this way, with no dignity and no decency? And is it any surprise
that, in these settings, we have all the injuries
and workplace health problems that the people endure, because they too are often powerless against the people
who are running the operation, if they’re immigrants
or they’re first generation folks, who haven’t been able to organize
and stand up? It’s all connected. You know, these buildings are so big. It’s a football-length-sized field. The birds may be stacked up,
you know, eight high. You’ve got to go to a catwalk
to look at the birds on levels five, six, seven and eight. And the ratios
of animals to workers, I mean, in some buildings,
there may be 150,000, or 250,000 birds. There may be just one
or two workers, or three workers! The ratios are terrible! You know, the National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health, “discussing battery cage operations, the effects of ammonia include nausea, vomiting, chest pain,
difficulty breathing, headaches, lung damage, increased susceptibility
to bacterial infections.” Of course, if it’s unhealthy
for the animals, it’s going to be unhealthy
for the people as well. These are the ratios of the,
you know, the people to the animals. If you’re just
looking at the birds, I mean — we’re talking about these enormous volumes of strawberries and tomatoes picked. What about checking all of these animals? I mean, what an overwhelming
back-breaking job it is in this fundamentally
unhealthy environment. You know, the folks
who are in the slaughter plants, I mean, again, shackling the birds. A miserable environment for them. Human Rights Watch said, “Meat packing is the most
dangerous factory job in America.” You know, we can restore
our connection with animals. And, when we do,
there are better outcomes for us. And, you know,
Cesar Chavez of course saw all of these issues as connected, and now, Arturo
with the farm workers and others are abiding by those same principles. When we are good to animals, there are better outcomes down the line. The same causes of cruelty to animals are the same issues at work
in the mistreatment of workers. I mean, we really need
a greater quotient of decency and kindness in this world. It is all connected, and we’re all brothers and sisters
in this struggle. Thank you all very much.

4 Comments

  1. Ellen Mass Author

    I am a meat eater. I will not apologize for that fact but I will say that I regularly give thanks to the spirits of the animals that gave up their life so I and other humans can live. we ARE connected to the animals in many ways. I do understand the need for proper care of the animals destined for my plate and the plates of others. for that I commend the humane livestock raisers. but, truth be told – HSUS wants the end of animal usage – not just humane conditions at the 'farm'

    Reply
  2. Megan Graney Author

    Those animals did not "give up" their lives. Their lives were taken. Don't sugar coat that truth. What goes around, comes around, that's all. HSUS does not want to end it. I do, so I can tell you. The HSUS is full of meat eaters.

    Reply
  3. Megan Graney Author

    Violence by humans against non-humans, begets violence by humans against other humans. What if we have been making a big mistake, for thousands of years? How long until our greed destroys everything? What if we stopped eating animals, and we planted forests, were we now grow crops to feed the animals that we then eat? We could feed the world 6 times over, with the food we feed food animals. How greedy?

    Reply
  4. Sally Kouba Author

    When i see this video, i am proud to be vegetarian, i don t want to eat meal if it must 'live' these poor animals who are treated so cruelletly just to have so 'fun' to have apart of them in our plate… i dream of a day that every human will say no and will prefer to eat less meal but meal producted from elevages who treats animals better

    Reply

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