It was not a period or a moment, it was how it had always been, before. It all ended within a year, following the protest. There was a before, and now we live in the after. Before, there was one of those facilities close to my house and, aside from its annoying smell, I had never thought of it as a bad thing, it seems incredible. You ask us how we could not object, how we could stay silent: there is no point in telling you that it felt normal to us. Your generation does not believe that. I saw trucks going in full and coming out empty. And it felt normal. After all these years in which it is not regarded as normal anymore, after all these years of awareness, or whatever you call it, it all feels like some kind of dream to me. I can’t believe I didn’t even question myself about it. I never thought it could be wrong. It was only after the protest that people started to gather information. The injections, the abuses, the experiments. All of it prescribed by economic logics. The law only mentioned you should avoid cruelty. But killing was not forbidden. If it happened scientifically and hygienically, it was allowed. Today, you know about the mutilations, about the killings. About the cries of agony. Your grandfather even used to work in one of those facilities and only once did he tell me that his job bothered him a bit. Just once, before the topic became taboo. Then he never mentioned it again. I used to wash his blood-stained white coat, every night. And it felt normal. It all changed with the protest, what was just a topic nobody wanted to discuss started to get analysed in depth. The news, the web, people… everyone discovered they were now outraged and hastened to reduce their actual involvement.
Today, you see the world as it was before as something inexplicable. Those who were once considered as just annoying protesters are now called pioneers, dissenters, rebels; but back then, they were often regarded as odd characters. After that video went viral, that vague and unclear feeling turned into a trend and eventually a movement. Everything changed when it became a trend. The quote by Kundera was everywhere, and it seems impossible not to agree with it today. However, I believe that, even though so many years have gone by, in the depths of their minds a lot of people secretly feel hatred and resentment towards that change. For many people, if the Other has no strength, there is no reason to respect it.
To see you, today, after so many years, living without even knowing what meat tastes like, without knowing it and therefore without longing for it, would have been unimaginable, before.
“True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.”
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984