Coded gray.

Sunday 10 June 2001

Screenshot (pigs)

Pic of the day: "Do they know it's Christmas time at all?" Screenshot from Daggerfall.

Like a pig to slaughter

Yesterday I was out shopping groceries, when in the shop I came across a grandmother, a mother and a little boy. The toddler looked rather tense from the start. Not long after, he placed himself outside a door which I was about to walk through. This was one of those glass doors that automatically swing out when you approach. He stood there quite a while waiting for me to approach so he could get the door smack in his face and cry like murder. But I foiled his plans by simply staying back from the door, and eventually his relatives convinced him to move on. It took him maybe a minute more to find an excuse to turn on the sound. When he passed the shelf with the buns, he was informed politely by the grandmother that they had buns at home. That was it.

You know that for a boy, waiting for buns is like not getting any buns at all. The collossal tragedy of it all overwhelmed his senses and filled his entire being with unbearable pain. A pain he had to share with the world. A wail arose, a loud and high-pitched whine. It went on and on. The maternal ancestors took him to the check-out, where there was a line as usual on Saturdays. Occasionally they tried to talk to him, but he was lost in his fascination with the immense betrayal that had been perpetrated upon his innocent little soul. No bun! There was barely time to breathe, such was the importance of keeping up the siren song of his martyrdom.

And a thought arose in my heart, where I stood a little bit behind them in the line, and the thought said: "Like a pig that is led to the slaughter, so he did not close his mouth."


The theologically inclined will recognize the actual reference from the Scripture. "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." We christians have from the start claimed that this referred to Jesus Christ. Obviously the Jews must have some alternative explanation, but I know not what. It may even read slightly differently in their versions, for all I know.

Growing up on a farm, I learned that there are indeed differences between the various species in how they react to the use of mild force. Sheep may put up a weak protest, but are generally led along with only some concerned bleating as long as they are not in physical pain. Perhaps they simply don't see their impending doom, or perhaps it is not in their nature to make a fuss about the unavoidable. Who knows? What is certain is that I have listened to a couple pig slaughterings, and it is not a sweet music. The animals seem to assume the worst from the start. They fight desperately, while whining at the top of their lungs. The whine just goes on and on and on until it is suddenly cut off for ever.

I used to whine like that, too, only for much less reason. When I did not get what I wanted, the way I wanted, when I wanted. I whined and cried and howled, long and loud. Not just as a toddler, but up to around puberty for certain. When I moved out from home, there wasn't much of an audience for actual whining. I still cried and sobbed to God, but the feedback wasn't exactly overwhelming and encouraging. Eventually I cut down on the tears too. I still cry every year, of that I am pretty certain. But not every month by far. And I don't whine. Well, not literally. :)

I can't say for sure if it is my religion that has finally kicked in, or if it is just that we eventually mature whether we want to or not.


There is certainly enough suffering in the world. Life is suffering, claimed the Buddha. Nor is he the only one to reach that conclusion. Though it is hard to say in each case whether you're seeing a deep spiritual insight, a clinical depression or just someone who did not get his bun right now.

What I have seen and understood is that there is much needless suffering when we allow our desires to grow beyond reason. And we live in a society where enormous resources are thrown at fuelling the flame of greed, envy and desire. I'm thinking primarily of "advertisement". It would be easy enough if you just told the customer that certain goods were now for sale from specific outlet. Even a brief description as needed. But these days, a lot of work is put into creating a need. By various tricks of sight and sound, the customer is trained like a dog to associate the object with pleasure.

I suppose you have heard of Pavlov's dogs? This pioneer of science used to ring a bell before feeding his dogs. After a while, he noticed that the dogs reacted to the bell as they did to food. An association had made something unrelated take on the properties of a need. And now it is your turn. Like Pavlov's dogs, you are trained by people who want your mouth to water as they ring their bells.


Certainly there are desires which must be in place to ensure continued life for the body or the species. While the Buddha encouraged the death of all desires, albeit in a proper sequence, I won't go that far today. I will just point out that we may live longer, healthier, happier lives if we break the chains of false association imposed on us. I shall not presume to think for you: Certainly you can see with your own eyes who they are who try to enslave your mind, to leech your happiness into their bank accounts. Be aware! Let your mind's eye trail behind the eyes of your body, notice what they see. Look at the hooks that are sunk into your soul.

I dare hope that I am not throwing my pearls for swine here, nor giving to the dogs that which is holy...

As for myself, I told my inner voice that I was irritated by the little boy because I am still not completely free from the same stuff myself. This is the case with all judgement: We cannot truly hate something in others unless we also have the capacity to love it in ourselves. And then I went home.

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