This week we're hosting our first ever Polyface children's day camp. Our former apprentice, Molly Hestor, has developed the program and enterprise as her own stand-alone business and we couldn't be happier. She has 20 children aged 5-11 and today is chicken day.
Not just chicken production, but slaughter as well. Sensitive to modern realities, she allowed parents to opt out their children from actually seeing it, and 6 of the 20 children will be denied that access, due to parental concern.
This is a sensitive subject and I've written about it extensively in other places, but I have a different take on it today. Our culture, in my opinion, is doing all it can to reduce the requirement for individuals to accept responsibility for their actions. Each day, each of us creates consequences. If we sit around and don't do anything because we're lazy, that activity has consequences. Somebody else must clean the toilet, wash the clothes, take out the trash.
You cannot escape decisional consequences, even if your decision is to watch TV all day and sit on the couch. You cannot exclude yourself from consequences. If you elect to go meatless, that has consequences. It means you have to put a lot more thought on dietary requirements (non-meat proteins are not as complete, so require far more thought to balance). It means you have to wrestle with the animal question--ecological role of animals, which animals, and how you manage the environment without animals. It means you have to figure out what to do with the extra soybeans, lentils, and other plant- based proteins; this includes how to grow them as much and more than current production in a non-monoculture way and without chemical fertilizers.
The point is that every decision we make carries consequences. But in modern America, it seems to me like we're trying to divorce consequences from decisions; we're trying to grant freedom without responsibility. It's like a train without a track or a car without a steering wheel. To function properly, freedom must have constraints. This is why America's founders could not envision the level of freedom they granted without a Judeo-Christian moral ethic. Without a moral compass to restrain freedom, the wheels fall off and it turns into dysfunction and chaos. By the way, when the Bill of Rights was adopted, prohibiting the FEDERAL government from making an official religion, several states had official religions--the Constitution does NOT prohibit states from active religious process; only the national government. Think that over for a moment.
Returning to chickens and children. So if you're NOT going to eat chicken, you have to wrestle with consequences. But if you ARE going to eat chicken, you or somebody else must end that chicken's life so you can cook it and eat it. It's okay if you don't want to put the knife to the chicken's throat. Goodness, my wife Teresa has never killed a chicken. "You kill it and I'll do anything and everything after that," she has always said. That's okay.
But if you eat chicken, you are making a decision to take that chicken's life in order to sustain your own. I suggest that it's much more grown-up and responsible to come to terms with that consequential responsibility by seeing it than it is to hide behind the door and never come to grips with the outcome of a decision.
I'm extremely grateful that Molly has elected to expose these youngsters to this visceral and real part of life. And we're glad that here at Polyface we're transparent and open to anyone who wants to see it; we don't have "No Trespassing" signs or security posts and fences surrounding our activities. It's open to anyone so that all may enjoy the death-life-decomposition (digestion)-regeneration cycle in its most tactile form. And so that our activities will be publicly scrutinized--audited--to maintain accountability in the process.
Have your children seen animal slaughter?