"ALL USE IS ABUSE."

            An herbalist says she does not want to learn from Polyface "how to use and abuse animals.  All use is abuse.  We should all already be vegan."

             This in response to a mass pitch about joining the ACRES USA-sponsored Small Farm Academy I'll be teaching in the next few weeks.

             This attitude brings to mind the ditty economics professor Walter Williams enjoyed:  "My wife told me I use her.  I said of course I use you, sweetheart.  If I didn't have any use for you, I wouldn't have married you."

             It's funny but it's also profound.  Love and care grow out of use.  By the strict definition of "all use is abuse" even using soil to grow herbs is abuse.  Where does it stop?  It's such a ridiculous nonsensical statement that it leads me to believe her brain has already atrophied due to starvation for adequate nutrition.

             All employees are abused because employers use them.  Our children are abused if we use them to help with chores.  Mentors are abused when we use them for references on job applications.  Water is abused when we drink it.  Trees are abused when we mill them into lumber so we can build a house.  Minerals are abused when we mine them to make steel for a car body.  This line of reasoning is absurd.

             I'm glad somebody uses me.  Perhaps the most important human need is the need to be needed, which grows directly out of use.  Failure to be useful, to feel needed, directly leads to depression and loss of self-worth.  Teachers use students to feel necessary.  We abuse business every time we use it?  Really? We abuse Amazon every time we buy?

             Certainly some use can be abusive, but certainly not all use is abuse.  Tell that to a starving child--no, you can't eat that meat because doing so is abusive.  This gets right to the sacrosanct elitism of the statement.  Plenty of people need to eat something--anything.  The reason animals are such a bedrock of human nutrition is that they can be preserved in real time without energy and they can move when geo-political situations demand fleeing to safer havens.

             And if you think those of us living in relative security and luxury are beyond this need, you don't appreciate the fragility of security and luxury.  Let any calamity occur, from sudden energy disruption, economic collapse, epidemic or social upheaval, and our American nest would be gone in a heartbeat.  And then if you can catch a rabbit you might live another day.  This has been normal throughout human history.  Being able to take the time and energy to utter a statement like "all use is abuse" requires completely aberrant luxury and disconnection from our ecological womb.  Many people still are consumed with trying to survive to another day.  More often than not, that's a glass of milk or something caught and butchered, or maybe even an egg found and cooked.  Or a tomato.  Or ear of corn.

             How can a statement this nonsensical be uttered by any credible person.  As Teresa, my sweetheart says:  "And she votes!"  Oh boy.

             What would you say to a person who thinks "all use is abuse?"