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April 7, 2024

by Dr. David Fialkoff, Editor / Publisher

I received two emails from a vegan the other day. The first, at 9:05am, castigated me for having photos of men on horseback on my homepage. Here is an excerpt in translation:

...mounted on top of them, some caballeros, violent, most of the time drunk, ignorant, who have never thought that horses deserve to live on this planet without being tied or enslaved by anyone.

...horses subjugated, enslaved, with their hooves infected by horseshoes, with an iron bridle in their mouths eternally, with spurs piercing their bellies, whips, shafts....

I looked again at the photos and saw two rustic fellows, neither of them obviously drunk or ignorant, sitting on some apparently well-cared for horses. Looking closer, it occurred to me that the author of the email was strangely silent about the burro, also with rider, in the bottom left of the photo.

The second email came 55 minutes later, before I was even aware of the first. This one, much briefer than the first, noted that Lokkal promotes bullfighting and so gave up on me as a "lost cause.

(Lokkal does not promote bullfighting. It lists events. Bullfighting happens to be one of those events. More on that below.)

Years ago, by way of promoting my Vermont retreat, I posted some photos of work-horses skidding trees, cut earlier, in the autumn, out of the forest over a layer of snow. (We milled our own lumber to build the "lodge.") A vegan emailed me in response, "Let the horses go free." I wrote back, "You live in the city, right?"

Those work-horses were free. Like a Husky dog, they live and love to pull. They need to exercise, pulling a heavy sledge around the corral when the don't have more productive labor. If you let them alone, the only place they are going to go is back to the barn.

In something resembling symbiosis, people and horses have evolved together. Horses depend on people. If horses didn't benefit mankind, we would have eaten them all a long time ago, along with the wooly mammoth. There aren't any wild mustangs in Mexico. If people didn't raise horses here, there wouldn't be any horses here.

An idealogue is someone who is not confused by the facts, someone who doesn't ask the hard questions, like who is going to feed those no-longer "enslaved" horses?

It's easy to condemn the practice of raising beef cows in an industrialized feedlot. But what about the cows who live a pastoral life of three or four years, who, after fattening on the hillsides around Cañada de la Virgen, are then slaughtered? Is it better that they should never have existed at all?

Or, getting coming back to bullfighting, do you think the bull, who enjoys the finest fodder and the prettiest heifers, who is treated like a god, would forego his three or four heavenly years of life, would choose never to be born rather than suffer an hour of torment in the ring? Isn't there glory in going down fighting?

Or less nobly, what about free range chickens? Don't they deserve a year of life?

I'm not saying that I know the answers. These are honest questions. But I'm sure that the vegan who wrote to me also doesn't know, and doesn't even ask.

I met a man I know the other day while he was walking his dogs. N. worked for twenty-five years in mostly war zones and countries with civil unrest. Most notably in Rwanda during the genocide, Central America during various civil wars, Bosnia, Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan's tribal areas, the Congo, etc.

Bicycling alongside him asked him about war in general and Gaza in particular. He said, and I'm paraphrasing here:

"People adopt an opinion on Gaza that makes them feel good, but war is a black hole sucking everyone inside. Vastly more civilians are being killed in Sudan, Somalia, and eastern Congo [by Islamists] and very few in North America care or even know. We who are alive today are the descendants of people who had a strong fight-or-flight mechanism. They survived by springing into action. We are conditioned to fight. It's hopeless. But, when all hope is lost, there's always revenge."

I have a friend, who, like all idealogues, has adopted an opinion that makes him feel good, righteous. A confirmed, old-school, Soviet-style leftist, P., a Jew, is pro-Palestinian. He won't allow me to put forth any facts contrary to his opinion on the matter, literally shutting down any attempt at conversation.

Reacting, to charges of genocide, of Israel deliberately targeting civilians I cut and pasted a message to him:

"Lord Andrew Roberts, war historian, journalist: Even if you take Hamas' wildly inflated numbers as fact, the ratio of civilian death to militant death is less than 2:1 For reference, the average ratio for modern urban warfare of this kind is 9:1, where civilians account for 90 percent of casualties. This ratio is 'astonishingly low,' especially in a war in which Hamas routinely uses civilians as human shields."

P. responded:

It's hard to believe how different our points of view are. I am asking you to not alienate me further--OK?

I concluded:

Sorry, to me that doesn't seem like a point of view; it seems like math.

Manichaeism, a religious movement founded in Persia in the 3rd century of this era, preaches dualism, that things are either good or evil, black or white, eliminating all gray, not to mention color, from the world. There is a lot of simplistic binary on the streets today: victim vs oppressor, brown vs white, straight vs everything else. It's comfortingly simple, and doesn't require any thinking at all.

I dated a vegan, Alyssa, for seven years, while I was very largely a vegetarian, the main exception being the venison my buddy Chris served up in Vermont. Chris explained to my Alyssa, that, with their natural predator, the wolf, eliminated, the deer population had to be controlled. He assured her that he only hunted mature bucks who had lived a number of years, and that dying from old age as a deer was a horrible way to go.

She wasn't 100% convinced, but Alyssa thought about it, which is more than the vegan who wrote to me or my friend P. are willing to do.

I'll leave you with the words with which I left Duke, riding off into San Miguel's late-afternoon sunshine: "Just because you can imagine a better world, doesn't mean it's this one."


Dr. David Fialkoff presents Lokkal, our local social network, the community online and off, Atención robustly reborn for the digital age. If you can, please do contribute your hard-earned cash (or content) to support Lokkal, SMA's Voice. Use the orange, Paypal donate button below. Thank you.


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