Some more thoughts on chicken-killing

Non-gory, this time, I promise…

I’ve been thinking about the idea of gratitude lately, specifically in connection with the chicken.  We thanked the chickens before eating dinner, and I realized that by my definition/understanding of the term, thanking the chickens wasn’t really the appropriate response.  For me, gratitude is either a generalized, un/omni-directional sort of feeling in response to an appreciation of the fact that life is good, for varyingly specific instances of “good”, or a specifically directed response to someone doing something nice for me out of their own volition (which may not have been intended purely to make me happy, but was definitely something that someone did).  Neither of these is really appropriate in the chicken-eating instance, as a chicken is not the universe in general, and it didn’t walk up and ask to be dinner of its own free will, as it doesn’t really have free will in the sapient sense of the term.  I was certainly grateful that I had the opportunity to experience that, and that I didn’t goof up and the chicken died quickly and cleanly, and that its brethren were afterwards delicious and I had a lovely dinner.  But none of that gratitude is properly applied to the chicken, in my mind.  An apology to the chicken might be slightly closer to the actual thing that I felt, but not in the sense of apologizing for something that one has done wrong.  If I thought that killing the chicken was actually wrong, I would either not have done it or would have afterwards decided that I shouldn’t do it again.  It’s more just that life exists by taking other life, directly or indirectly, and I acknowledge that that is a weighty sort of thing not engaged in lightly, and it is a sacred sort of mindfulness to be aware when one is participating in it.  It’s easier to be mindful in that sort of obvious killing-largeish-vertebrates situation, but even my lovely vegan potatoey dinner tonight involved killing both the vegetables and any number of small squishy creatures either intentionally or accidentally in the process.

Edit: Respect, that’s the word I was looking for.  One should respect the chicken, only in this case I want there to be a form of the word referring to a specific conscious act, rather than a general mindset.  There should be a dedicated moment of respecting a chicken you are going to eat, above the normal level of respect one should show one’s fellow critters.


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