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Changing the world of violence

Speaking from Cannes about his new film, Killing Them Softly, actor Brad Pitt said: “We live in such a violent world.

I grew up hunting, which is a very violent act. If you ever had a hamburger, have you seen how they butcher a cow? It’s barbaric, it’s horrendous. This is the world we live in. I don’t see a world without violence.”

It is true that there is a great deal of violence involved in producing hamburgers — or any animal product in reality, such as cow’s milk.

However, even if they acknowledge it, most people do not associate the violence of the slaughterhouse with the general violence in society.

Think about it, though, can we digest the products of violence several times a day without it having some effect; without the violence we consume becoming a part of us?

Tolstoy saw the connection very clearly, reportedly declaring that, “as long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”

Similarly, in a poem entitled We Are the Living Graves of Murdered Beasts, George Bernard Shaw struggled to understand how those “sick of war” can “gorge” on dead animals.

The thing is — there need not be slaughterhouses, there need not be hamburgers, and no-one needs to gorge on dead animals.

Brad Pitt may not see a world without violence, but one sure step towards it would be to eliminate it from one’s diet, and embrace the broader philosophy of veganism and non-violence.

Violence is the world we live in — but we can change that.

Dr Roger Yates

Occasional Lecturer in Sociology

UCD

Belfield Campus

Dublin 4


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