Can Peace be established on earth by shedding blood of innocent animals to dine on their flesh for Christmas? 
Posted on December 25th, 2018

Senaka Weeraratna

Not a single Annual Christmas Day passes without an appeal by the heads of the Christian Churches to the good Lord for his benevolent intervention to establish peace on earth.

That appeal is also joined by the current political establishment of Sri Lanka both from the Government and the Opposition.

That is a nice gesture.

But what is horrifying is the underlying reality of mass killing of innocent animals to celebrate Christmas.

No such thing happens to commemorate Buddhist Vesak.

Leaders of Buddhist countries such as Sri Lanka that join hands with Christian Cardinals and Bishops to loudly proclaim Peace on Earth for Christmas and tacitly support without any reservation or objection to the killing of millions of animals for Christmas festivities (in contrast to the non – violence espoused for Vesak), lack moral scruples and moral leadership qualities based on Buddhist convictions.

Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta (Digha Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka)  

In the pre- colonial period the country’s Buddhist Kings had a clear sense of moral direction based on Buddhist moral values and ethics.

These rulers  were animal friendly and upheld a culture of tolerance towards all living beings.

The Mahavamsa lists the acts of kindness shown to both man and non – human animal by our Kings based on the wise advice given by the Buddha in the Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta (Digha Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka) where the Buddha in spelling out the duties of an ideal ruler declared:

“The Cakkavatti King (Righteous King) will give protection, shelter and ward both to the different classes of human beings, and also to birds and beasts”,

Sutta Nipata

In the Sutta Nipata, the Buddha warned of the grave consequences that follow to the society and the natural environment through a rise in deceases and calamities such as tremors, earthquakes, floods in the wake of mass killing of animals e.g. animal sacrifice in Nepal triggered a huge earthquake a few years ago.

Collective Karmic retribution is not fantasy stuff. It is a real threat and likely to strike those who have wronged by the curses and pain waves of the dying animals.

These karmic warnings and pious directions of the Buddha now fall on deaf ears. Things have changed.

Leading politicians want to placate  adherent of every religion to obtain their vote.

In such process Buddhist values that save and protect animals get de- legitimised and sidelined or get simply thrown overboard.

Animals – biggest losers since 1505 

Since the entry of the Portuguese in 1505 followed by the Dutch and the British the biggest losers in this country have been the innocent animals.

The first thing that the Portuguese did was to introduce Beef and Liquor to the local inhabitants.

The cow a highly protected animal lost its sanctity causing heartburn to both Buddhists and Hindus.

All kinds of animals were hunted down and destroyed for mere pleasure by our colonial rulers in the name of game or sport.

The British destroyed 10, 000 wild elephants to open up the hill country for coffee and tea plantations.

The crimes committed on the animals during the colonial period have yet to be accounted for and documented.

Today in modern Sri Lanka the animals have no voice nor the vote nor the protection that Buddhist teachings have extended to all living beings.

Unlike in more developed and enlightened countries almost all political parties in Sri Lanka have removed animals from their radar except to view them only for purpose of commercial exploitation.

Our pre-colonial rulers diligently followed Buddhist teachings in respect to safeguarding animals.

Not any more. Not even lip service.

Christmas complicity

Life is the most precious possession of all living beings. No religion can deny this simple fact. Reverence for life is the epitome of ethics. To confine the reverence for life to only one species and discard the claims to live un – harassed of the other eight million species that share the planet with humans is un – ethical and  unjust and morally indefensible.

Monotheistic religions ignore the ethical dimensions of this reality. But adherents of other religions such as Buddhists and Jains and free thinkers in the West are not prepared to do so.

This issue always comes up at time of Christmas. Because that is the time that the greatest amount of harm is caused to animals. However much one tries to deny or cover up with seemingly innocuous sounding language there is an underlying human complicity in this animal holocaust and savagery.

Christmas feasts are deeply associated with the consumption of the flesh of victims of violence. Meat is obtained by snuffing out the life of another living being that wants to continue to live. It is hypocritical to talk of love and peace to all at Christmas while gleefully tucking into the remains of a dead animal on your plate. This is what is called double speak. It is basically language used to deceive usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth.

All the hosannas sung to the good Lord and his acolytes at Christmas calling for establishment of peace on earth  becomes nothing but hypocritical if one overlooks the enormous amounts of blood of innocent animals that is being shed on the eve of Christmas to bring the meat to your plate.

To eat meat without bothering to consider its true source is not right mindfulness. One must cultivate right mindfulness at all times particularly at times of religious observances. To disregard this requirement devalues the sanctity of the religious occasion. Christmas unfortunately has become a showboat festival sans true compassion for all living beings.

It is a ‘day of infamy’ from the point of view of dying animals. It is anything but a season of joy for them.

The screams of animals being slaughtered under most primitive unregulated conditions and in the backyards of homes during the Christmas season go unheard, unnoticed, and disregarded at times of prayer in Christian Churches, and more alarmingly in the corridors of power of this pre-dominantly Buddhist country.

Animal Welfare Bill

To talk of the high value of environmental conservation while ignoring the urgent need to enact the Animal Welfare Bill, is another instance of double speak that the Catholic Church is also guilty of. The Catholic Church and all other Christian Churches are maintaining a deafening silence on the necessity of bringing the Animal Welfare Bill onto the Statute Book. Animals have no votes. Sri Lanka’s self serving politicians can afford to ignore them. Their moral authority and credibility is nil. But religious institutions are a different kettle of fish. They are supposed to be the keepers of the moral conscience of a society. In this era of increasing awareness of the rights of others, how can one ignore the plight of other living beings?

A slaughter free religious festival would be a season of joy for all at least from the point of view of preservation of life. Humans and non – human animals alike. Vesak provides the best example where reverence and compassion for all forms of life is stressed and consequently on Vesak day an age-old custom is legally enforced – closure of slaughter houses and ban on sale of meat. A majority of the people abstain from flesh food consumption as part of the Buddhist religious tradition and practice on that occasion.

We in Sri Lanka can set an example to the rest of the world by doing likewise on Christmas day. The biggest beneficiaries would be the innocent animals. It is time that we all give consideration to their paramount interest in living until their natural life span ends just as much we humans do to each other.

Sri Lankans who celebrate Christmas should strongly consider commencing a new tradition of kindness and goodwill to all living beings by leaving meat off their plate on Christmas day. Instead of blindly aping foreign traditions mired in killing and bloodshed during Christmas, why not follow a more distinctive Buddhist (Vesak) tradition in Sri Lanka of total non-violence when celebrating the anniversary of the birthday of the founder of a religion.

It is never too late to start such a fresh endeavor this season. It will save lives. What can be more holy and noble than that?

Extend the spirit of goodwill to animals this Christmas by avoiding meat altogether on Christmas Day. That will be an unique and truly noble gesture.

All lovers of peace and non – violence (ahimsa) must campaign to make religious festivals in Sri Lanka slaughter free. That will bring a level of international recognition to Sri Lanka that no amount of empty rhetoric on Human Rights can bring.

Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”

Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality

One Response to “Can Peace be established on earth by shedding blood of innocent animals to dine on their flesh for Christmas? ”

  1. Christie Says:

    When are you going to Munnerwaram?

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