Amy Lauver, Layout Editor
What constitutes an “earthling?” The definition of earthling is anything that inhabits the earth. After watching the documentary Earthlings, my perspective on the world and life could not help but be changed.
If you do not know, Earthlings is a documentary advocating animal rights. It analyzes animal cruelty in five parts: pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research with the use of secret footage. The director and writer, Shaun Monson, uses an interesting analogy in the opening of the film. He compares speciesism, the treatment of one species as less than another, to racism and sexism. The whole premise of the film is, “If you had to kill your own meat, you would be vegetarian.”
This film was so much more than just about food. It was about coming together as “earthlings.” I have always loved animals, but I recognize that human life is so much more valuable. Human beings were created in God’s image, and therefore, are worth more than the animals on earth. However, God does call us (as the dominant species) to take care of the earth, and that includes all of its inhabitants.
I have seen videos before about slaughterhouses and animal cruelty but never to the effect of this documentary. One thing that has been hard to not be biased about is the fact that this film came out in 2005. Clearly, it takes some time to put together the amount of information and footage that is in this documentary. This project had been in the works since 1999, so the information is more than ten years old. When I learned all of this, my skepticism showed. I know that regulations have been passed in the food industry since 2005. The FDA works every year to improve what we are putting in our bodies. However, I also know that there will always be some aspects of inhumanity when slaughtering animals.
As someone who can eat meat like no other, this documentary had an effect on me that I did not expect. I love the environment, and I love animals. If I did not love meat so much, I probably would have been a vegetarian a long time ago. Going vegan is a whole other story. I always used to tell myself, “If I eat this one hamburger, it is not going to cause any more cows to be killed than there already are.” The day after the documentary screening, I could not bring myself to eat any meat whatsoever. I was disgusted. I was disgusted not necessarily at meat in general but at what humankind had let happen. Taking into consideration the documentary as a whole, the fact that we had allowed any human to be so barbaric towards animals was sickening–Especially as a child of the Creator.
There are two scenes in particular that made me have such a strong feeling towards this subject. The first was in the third part on clothing. There was a scene where a fox was being killed so it could be used for fur. The fox was carried past rows of cages with other foxes and wolves in them, then held by two men and forced to bite down on a metal conductor as it was electrocuted to death. I do not really know why, but it was the most scarring scene for me. Just seeing the fear in its eye as the life escaped from it was more than enough to make me cringe. The second scene was during the part about entertainment. It was of circus elephants being trained. One of the men in the scene was cussing and yelling at the elephant as it backed away in fear of being beaten. It made me wonder what had to have been done to that giant creature, which could kill that man with one stomp, to put that kind of fear in it. I then thought about that man and how selfish and inhumane he was to treat animals like that. This only led me to think about how a person could get to that point. Any industry that uses animals for profit is not only damaging animals but people as well.
Being the day after I have seen Earthlings, the effects of this film are very present. I still feel I need to do my own research before I can commit to a lifestyle of vegetarianism, let alone veganism. As a part of creation, we are called to take care of the rest of creation. God did not create anything with plans of suffering or abuse. I do not necessarily think eating meat is bad, but it is the way we have allowed meat to be processed that is inhumane. It should not be hard for us to be kind to animals.