|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
from the Souvenir Book
THE REGENERATION OF MANKIND
What hitherto has kept me from joining any of the existing societies for the protection of animals, has been that I found all their arguments and appeals based well-nigh exclusively on the Utilitarian principle. It may have been a first necessity of the philanthropists who have heretofore concerned themselves with the protection of dumb animals, to prove to the people the usefulness of a merciful treatment of the beasts, since our modern civilization does not empower us to count on any other motives than that of utility in the actions of State-ruled mankind. How far we thus have wandered from the only ennobling reason for kindness toward dumb animals, and how little could be really attained on the path here struck, is shown quite palpably in recent days...
Who needs another motive for the protection of an animal from willfully protracted sufferings than that of pure compassion can never have felt a genuine right to stop another man's beast-torture. Everyone who revolts at the sight of an animal's torment, is prompted solely by compassion, and he who joins with others to protect dumb animals is moved by naught save pity, of its very nature entirely indifferent to all calculations of utility or the reverse. But that we have not the courage to set this motive of pity in the forefront of our appeals and admonitions to the folk, is the curse of our civilization.
In our days it required the instruction of a philosopher [Schopenhauer] who fought with dogged ruthlessness against all cant and all pretence to prove the pity deeply-seated in the human beast the only true foundation of morality... When Mahomet had run through all the wonders of creation, he recognized it as the greater, that men should pity one another....
When first it dawned on human wisdom that the same thing breathed in animals as in mankind, it appeared too late to avert the curse which ranging ourselves with the beasts of prey, we seemed to have called down upon us through the taste of animal food: disease and misery of every kind, to which we did not see mere vegetable-eating men exposed. The insight thus obtained led further to the consciousness of a deep-seated guilt in our earthly being; it moved those fully seized therewith to turn aside from all that stirs the passions, through total abstinence from animal food. To these wise men [Plutarch, Hesiod, Seneca, and others] the mystery of the world unveiled itself as a restless tearing into pieces, to be restored to restful unity by nothing save compassion. The wise man could but recognize that the reasonable being gains his highest happiness through free-willed suffering, which he therefore seeks with eagerness, and ardently embraces; whereas the beast but looks on pain, so absolute and useless to it, with dread and agonized rebellion. But still more to be deplored that wise man deemed the human being who consciously could torture animals and turn a deaf ear to their pain, for he [the wise one] knew that such a one was infinitely further from redemption than the wild beast itself, which should rank in comparison as sinless as a saint ...
HUMAN DIGNITY BEGINS TO ASSERT ITSELF ONLY AT THE POINT WHERE MAN IS DISTINGUISHABLE FROM THE BEAST BY PITY FOR IT...
The sight of bullocks offered to the gods had become an abomination to us [yet] in our neat water-swilled shambles a daily blood-bath is concealed from all who at their mid-day meal shall feast upon the limbs of murdered animals dressed up beyond all recognition...
Whoever has made this clear to himself, will have no difficulty in discovering why an equal and ever deeper decline is manifest in the sphere of mental culture ; violence may civilize, but culture must sprout from this soil, of Peace ... The dishonouring diseases of our culture invite our physiologists to man-degrading experiments in speculative vivisection; the State protects them, on the "scientific standpoint," ...
We see the sovereign human beast of prey decaying too. Owing to a nutriment against his nature, he falls sick with maladies that claim but him, attains no more his natural span of life or gentle death, but plagued by pains and cares of body and soul unknown to any other species, he shuffles through an empty life to its ever fearful cutting short.
As we began with a general outline of the effects produced by the human beast of prey upon World-History, it now may be of service to return to the attempts to counteract them and find again the "long-lost Paradise" ; attempts we meet in seemingly progressive impotence as history goes on, till finally their operation passes almost wholly out of ken.
Among these last attempts we find in our own day the societies of so-called Vegetarians : nevertheless from out these very unions, much seem to have aimed directly at the centre of the question of mankind's Regeneration, we hear certain prominent members complaining that their comrades for the most part practice abstinence from meat on purely personal dietetic grounds, but in nowise link their practice with the great regenerative thought which alone could make the unions powerful. Next to them we find a union with an already more practical and somewhat more extended scope, that of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ; here again its member try to win the public's sympathy by mere utilitarian pleas, though a truly beneficial end could only be awaited from their pursuing their pity for animals to the point of an intelligent adoption of the deeper trend of vegetarianism ; founded on such a mutual understanding, an amalgamation of two societies might gain a power by no means to be despised ...
But if an earnest communion with the Vegetarian must necessarily teach the protector of animals the true meaning of that pity which inspires himself, results might be anticipated such as have followed the experiments already tried in certain prisons, where the greatest criminals have been transformed by a wisely-planned botanic regimen into the mildest and most upright of men. Whose memory would the groups of this community in truth be celebrating when they gathered, after each day's work, to refresh themselves with Bread and Wine...?
I start from the religious conviction that the degeneration of the human race has been brought about by its departure from its natural food; the only basis of a possible regeneration, a return to it. The easily ascertainable fact that merely a portion - supposed to be a third - of mankind is involved in this departure, and the example of physical health displayed by the larger half that has stayed true to its natural diet, might fitly teach us the path to strike for regeneration of the depraved but ruling portion... The great Regeneration, and devote ourselves to its carrying-through in every sense.