Living by Voices we shall Never Hear
Seeing Animals Differently
About the book
The book has three sections. The first is a collection of stories about the writers’ relationship with particular animals, the second is a collection of poetry, and the third and largest section is a series of essays outlining Friends’ views on, and commitment to, the rights of animals from a Quaker perspective. In this section, although most of the writers advocate vegetarianism/veganism, the broader view is also taken that factory farming and the exploitation of non-human animals/animal rights needs to be addressed if we are to save the planet from destruction.
I found the first section funny and touching and sensual. I can see the rooster envelop the chickens under his wing, I can feel the strength behind the relationship between the narrator and cows. I challenge you to read The Gypsy Dog without dropping a tear.
The poetry provides a bridge between stories and essays, and is a thoughtful and powerful selection I find important to return to from time to time.
The third section offers challenges of personal decision making – often based on Quaker history and the dilemmas and directions of our fore-fathers and mothers. I came away with many of my comfortable decisions shaken somewhat. There is a general theme that travels through many of the essays that equates the treatment of other-than-human animals with the abolition of slavery, the treatment of Indigenous people and gender inequality. I found Les Mitchell’s references to language and power and Benjamin Smeiser’s comparison between Buddhist precepts and Quaker testimonies in relation to nonhuman animals particularly forthright and certainly food for thought.