He had big feet. Big ears and a little nose. He was brown, with flashes of gray. He was quick and alert, his dark eyes darting around. He looked like he could be sweet, but I wasn’t buyin’ it. I watched his furry tail as he hopped away…thinking about how I was going to kill him.
The rabbit in the veggie patch and I are at war. I’m not really one for violence, but this damn rabbit ate an entire 100ft of cauliflower, plus our select Romanesco broccoli. It took Betsey and I half an afternoon forking, raking and prepping that bed, not to mention the time it took to grow the plants and transplant them from the greenhouse. And in one little swoop, Mr. Greedy rabbit ate up all that precious time and energy in just a few nibbles.
Now I know when farming organically and sustainably, there’s gonna be some sacrificial vegetables lost to the pests and animals. That’s just part of the nature game. But there has got to be some balance.
This damn rabbit crossed the line, so in my mind he’s gotta die.
The run-in with the rabbit and my new-found thirst for vengeance and justification for violence got me thinking. Thinking way bigger than the death of Mr. Greedy rabbit, and more about non-violent versus violent actions.
Yes, only I would compare the violent defense mentality of farmer vs pest with the larger defense mentality of activists vs the problem-makers, and some might find it annoying and completely ridiculous, but my thoughts are my thoughts.
Two drastically different scenarios raise one quite similar question in my mind. When is it OK to take violent action in protection of what’s important to you?
Now, I am not a PETA activist, nor a vegan, nor do I believe the killing of animals for consumption and use is wrong – as long as they have lived a healthy and free life. But I do believe killing an animal just to kill it is not right. As do many of the farmers I have come across and now work with. (We even went so far as to build cages for our greenhouse starts to protect them from the mice instead of putting out traps like many other farms do..allowing both the veggies and the mice to live.)
For as long as they can, many sustainable farmers go to great lengths to avoid killing pests and intruding animals, even when they are wreaking havoc on their farm. Building fences instead of hunting down deer, rabbits and groundhogs; planting pest deterrent crops and installing hoops and row cover instead of spraying pesticides and wiping out all bugs; putting up scarecrows instead of shooting the pestering birds.
We all understand there is a give and take, we are in their space and they have to eat too. But many reach the breaking point when the pests go too far. All of a sudden, something has to be done to protect the crops and the vitality of the farm, and the shotguns and traps come out. I know farmers who make themselves insane after spending the better part of the pre-season setting up non-violent deterrent structures, then the rest of the season running around shooting at anything that moves in the field.
It’s out of pure protection of livelihood, and that is all of the justification needed to hunt down any furry intruder in sight.
So what do we do with other types of intruders in society, especially when we don’t believe in violence? If it comes down to protecting ourselves or giving up, violence may have to be justified. Legally, Americans can shoot and kill anyone who intrudes their home. We can harm someone who tries to harm us -it’s called self-defense. But this allowance of violence only seems to extend to our personal property, our possessions – and our physical safety only when at the hands of a “criminal”.
But what if our safety, our health and our livelihood are at risk from corporations and big industry, like say fracking or toxic food systems? If Mr. Greedy oil-driller wants to set up a fracking well (drilling for natural gas via water pumping and toxic chemicals) next to our farm, consequently poisoning the water we drink (a.k.a attempted murder) and intruding on our land (a.k.a. home invasion) do we get to shoot him too?
Of course not. This would put an anti-fracking activist in jail. Just uttering the words is considered radical. People get targeted and censored for saying things like that. Just recently Florida and some other states began proposing bans on simply taking photos of big industry farms, because the ag industry doesn’t want you to know what their doing, for fear that people would get pissed off and begin taking action in defense of their food and their health. And if the Feds get wind of any planned violent action, everyone gets arrested. Like many political prisoners who are still locked up today for defending their rights in the 1960s.
But if violent action for the protection of life and livelihood is a justification for self-defense laws, and for murdering furry bunnies, shouldn’t it also be a right when protesting deadly industry or government ventures that threaten our rights, our environment and our health?
I’m just sayin’.