Lay of the Land
Another election is in the mail, the posters plastered up telegraph poles a timely reminder of a certain pricey Dail printing machine. For we now know that a picture may well tell a thousand words, but replicating it can apparently cost over a million.
Not that the political pin-ups parading around this country town want you concerning yourself with such details. Though if the postman always rings twice, their hopeful knock is more Halloween trick or treat, depending on your preferences.
Certainly, any canvassers calling to this door had better put a sock in the salesman smooth small-talk and mute those motor-mouths so eager to regurgitate what their market research thinks we want to hear. For Saint Francis is patron saint of this column, obliging me to find out their views on our brother and sister creatures who cannot cast a vote, yet are nevertheless directly affected by the outcome.
It won't be necessary to continue talking to anyone who implies there are more important issues at stake. For that will tell me that they need to spend less time grasping after power and more getting to know animals in a non-exploitative context. Because until they learn to walk not just in another person's shoes but also the hooves, paws and trotters of all creatures, they will be blind to the bigger picture of this planet.
Speaking of which, I will be eager to hear their climate action plan, especially in regard to intensive animal farming and its devastating impact on the environment. Then I can work out whether they live in that parallel utopia ironically called 'the real world', given it seems happily immune to what its inhabitants deem hysteric twaddle about a sixth extinction. Or if they dwell in the same deeply dysfunctional one as elitist snobs like myself who support local organic farmers.
I want to know if they ever feel unease, even privately, about the treatment of the beings behind the term 'livestock'. And if they believe they should experience some semblance of a natural life, free from pain and fear, before we prematurely end it. It would help to hear how they think they would sleep after signing off on sending two-week-old calves on long journeys that end in their solitary confinement in barren crates. And, for that matter, if they order veal and foie gras when they eat in restaurants.
Above all, I want to know if they consider it somehow demeaning to compare us to animals and to acknowledge that they also experience emotions and communicate in their own languages within social groups. Do they find this concept offensive because they believe we have a God-given right to do what we like with other species? Do they even accept it as scientific truth?
Because if they don't think animal welfare and human compassion are inextricably linked, and plan to reflect that in their policies, then I won't answer when a stranger calls.