eleventhbeatnik

musings of an aquarian age counterculturist


The Story No One Wants

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them,
but to be indifferent to them:

that’s the essence of inhumanity.”
George Bernard Shaw

This is the story no one wants.

This is the story I’ve sat with time and time again since 2011, wondering where it could go, and who would dare look.”

So begins the narration to the short film The Slaughterhouse, the first collaboration between myself and Kelly Guerin.

I first saw Kelly’s work when her film, Animal Auction, went viral in late 2014. I was really drawn to her filming, editing and sensitivity to the subject matter of our relationships with animals. I asked if she would look at, and try to make sense of, some of my more difficult material; video that I’d shot of the killing of animals, but hadn’t been able to put together in a way that didnt make people turn away. In endless emails, we mulled over how to craft this short film, and I think that, after much careful and thoughtful work, Kelly has done a really beautiful job with stitching the photos, videos and narration into what is now The Slaughterhouse.

I’ve taken photos of animals being killed in Europe, southeast Asia, North America and in Africa. It was in Tanzania that I was able to spend the most time with the workers and with the animals. I’ve witnessed the brutal treatment of animals, but at the hands of kind humans, who are frustrated, underpaid, and would rather be working elsewhere. They have almost unanimously said as much. Many of the farm and slaughter workers that I’ve encountered have been illegal and migrant workers, and have shared that they are the casualties of class of caste. And then, many of us just kill (and consume) out of ignorance. We’re not taught to think otherwise, or to open our minds and hearts to other possibilities, and caring is not only painful and challenging, but stigmatized.

Doing this shoot was hard. Really hard. But it was interesting to witness the men seeing the animals anew, through my eyes. They actually felt sympathy for me, as I struggled, at times, to maintain composure, while documenting the cows and goats being killed. Some of them expressed sympathy for the animals as well.

This is the story nobody wants to see. To look at our treatment of animals, no matter on which continent, is to witness both suffering, and our complicity in that suffering. But in bearing witness, we can learn, and change.

My hope is that, through this work, we can all look, care, share, and change.”

Jo-Anne McArthur
We Animals

For more information on Jo-Anne’s important, courageous and
compassionate work, please visit: We Animals

It is my core-held belief that it is by shining light on the dark places we illuminate ourselves.  Once enlightened, we can – each and every one of us – make decisions and choices every single day that contribute toward a more peaceful and compassionate world.  It has nothing to do with perfection and everything to do with intention and living from a place of love. Most importantly:  it is never the wrong time to listen to your heart.

Wishing peace for all,
eleventhbeatnik

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to bet better.  It’s not.”

Dr. Seuss


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Toronto Change-Makers

“When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to her who suffers, and try to help her.”
-Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom

There are so many wonderful organizations out there doing amazing things to raise awareness and consciousness in the area of animal rights all over the world, for which I am immensely grateful.  The dedication and commitment it takes to undertake this type of heart-wrenching advocacy work comes directly from the heart.

Locally, a couple of stories really caught my attention this week on the theme of “bearing witness” and I feel compelled to acknowledge all those involved and share their stories here:

Liz Marshall is a Toronto filmmaker who brought us the brilliantly moving film The Ghosts in Our Machine.  Through the camera lens of photographer Jo-Anne McArthur, this beautiful and gentle documentary captures the essence of animals caught in situations of both injustice and hope .

Liz Marshall Interview:
Liz Marshall: The Ghosts in Our Machine

Jo-Anne McArthur:
WE ANIMALS Jo-Anne McArthur

Toronto Pig Save is an inspiring collective of peaceful, local grassroots change-makers holding weekly vigils for pigs arriving in transport trucks at Quality Meat Packers slaughterhouse in Toronto.  The work they are doing is both necessary and powerful.


THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR EMBODYING THE MEANING OF “BE THE CHANGE…”.


The Ghosts in Our Machine

Last night I attended the première of The Ghosts In Our Machine at Hot Docs.  More thoughts on this later.

For now my message is this:  SEE THIS FILM.

It is a beautiful and perception changing work that covers a difficult subject in a gentle and heart opening way.  Jo-Anne McArthur’s soulful photography is stunning.

To learn more:  The Ghosts in Our Machine

the ghosts in our machine


Three Little Pigs: A Redux

Strolling toward the crosswalk on Bloor West this afternoon, my mind was simultaneously distracted and engaged in that curious state of brain fog that unfailingly accompanies having a cell phone in hand.

And then I glanced up.

In the space of a moment I was brought abruptly to awareness of my surroundings by a sight so startling that all of my senses immediately woke up.

A man was walking ahead of me within arm’s reach with three pigs draped over his shoulder and hanging down his back.  Whole pigs.  Full bodied pigs.  Recently killed pigs.  Shaved hair, flopping ears, soft closed eyes and delicate pink mouths.

It took me a minute to register what I was seeing before I stopped in my tracks and said out loud, “oh my god”.  Other passersby observed the man and his cargo with varying expressions of curiosity, disgust, shock, pain, confusion and sadness.  Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion.  I was transfixed.  Paralyzed.  And then I realized I was standing beside a van marked “xxx Ontario Fresh Meats”.  I watched the man cross to the other side of the street and enter a restaurant.  The last thing I saw was the detailed features on the faces of the pigs as they disappeared from view.  This visual will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Recognizing that I was seeing the pigs in their true, real, whole forms for the last time before they were to be torn apart and presented on dinner plates squeezed my heart to the point of physical pain.

The image of these helpless creatures so carelessly tossed over a man’s shoulder in full display on a city street shifted something inside me and brought to life a new level of consciousness.  The very existence of these beings mattered for their own sake — not for ours. Did the other observers see what I saw?  Feel what I felt?  Form an impression?  Make a connection?

These questions inspired me to begin writing publicly, here and there, about this and that.

I am vegan, forever and always.  And this is my first blog.

Peace to ALL.

♥EleventhBeatnik♥

Three Little Pigs