Goats and humanity


Every year, a week or ten days before Bakri Id, the streets corners are full of sheep and goats, waiting to be bought and sacrificed on the festival day. It’s heartrending, and I keep wondering if I should go and talk to the people buying and selling them, and plead for the lives of these animals. So far I’ve been too scared-lazy to do it… What will I say to them? I’ve never managed to convince anybody to do anything. What if I precipitate a Hindu-Muslim riot? What if they actually slaughter a goat before me? Etc, etc. One time I tried to buy a sheep near our farm. I’ve never known a sheep personally, but with this friendly, playful animal somehow there was an instant bond. Despite my pleading over several months, the owner refused to sell it to me, saying it was promised to God. In the end, I heard that the sheep died a natural death. If there’s a lesson in that, it defies me.

Anyway, I was absolutely thrilled to read about the Muslim Rashtriya Manch in Lucknow, who decided to do away with the goat sacrifice and celebrate a blood-free Eid this year. May their tribe increase! You can read the story here.

It’s things like this that go into my belief that humanity is getting better all the time, despite all the depressing news around us. The bad people may be badder, but the good people are gooder, and ultimately that counts for more. In the last twenty five years, I’ve seen more and more young people getting involved in social causes, more farmers turning organic, more talk about the evils of factory farming, more people turning vegan, more fellow feeling for the differently abled or the just different, more awareness of oppressive hierarchies and problems like child abuse… Yes, there are many challenges before us, but we will gradually dismantle them. This article in the NY Times says it better than I can.

By the way, the picture above is nothing to do with this post. It was taken in Ladakh several years ago and I just bunged it in because it has a goat and a human in it. But maybe it is, in a way, pertinent. We met this old guy lugging this full-grown, somewhat overweight goat around and asked him why he was carrying it. ‘They also get tired sometimes, no?’ was the reply. Which didn’t sound at all strange to us. You will often see us lugging our tubby dog up a tough slope on a hot day.



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