Recently we have been asking you to question and reconsider the use of terminology that has long been considered both appropriate and acceptable to refer to the gentle and intelligent sentient beings that we rescue and provide safe shelter for at Freedom Hill Sanctuary.
Last month we ran polls and asked you if you would use certain words that we at Freedom Hill Sanctuary do not accept when applied to our animal friends and we wish to see removed from our language.
The words, such as “cattle” and “livestock”, are all associated exclusively with the enslavement of animals on farms. Here, marked as possessions to be exploited, they are deprived of a right to animal welfare laws of the same protective level we see for other animals, such as those considered pets or companion animals. These passive aggressive terms facilitate the human actions that deny them the dignity of a life free from harm.
The very nature of words such as “livestock” engender the right to disrespect a sentient being who has been reduced to nothing more than a farmed product. To harvest a living, feeling, sentient being.
Your initial responses to our questions were as follows:
Q1/ Would you support use of the word “cattle”?
Yes 14%. No 86%
Q2/ Would you support use of the word “livestock”?
Yes 26%. No 74%
That’s a great start. What if we were to look more deeply into the meaning of these words? Why did more people accept “livestock” than would accept use of the word “cattle”? What does the word mean and what attributes does it associate to?
Stock is produce; whether it’s clothing, sports gear, pharmaceuticals or supermarket groceries. To refer to an animal, a sentient being with a rich, emotional life as “livestock”, i.e., living produce is to reinforce their destiny to be abused and exploited by humans.
It undermines their individual right to life on this earth, safe from interference by humans with an intent to harm and kill.
“Cattle” is a derivative from the old French “chattel” that progressed into the Norman word “catel”. We still associate the English term chattel found in real estate sales today as in “goods and chattels”.
Its meaning is one of assets and possessions of moveable property. In animals it could and still does include: cows, horses, sheep, donkeys, alpacas, goats and antelopes.
This possession is in regard to their saleabilty as an asset, particularly as farmed produce.
It is not the plural word for more than one cow, a mistake that many people make.
A herd of bovine animals is referred to in the female form of the sex; cows. Even if the majority are steers or bulls they are still collectively called cows.
In an age when we are questioning the root words and derisive foundations of many words in the English language, it is timely for us to re-evaluate the use of words used to classify our animal friends.
We brand an animal with more than hot irons. We brand them when we use language that designates them into a category where unskillful, harmful and unkind behaviour can be excused.
So then “livestock”, “cattle”, or, to “run” several hundred “head” (i.e., capital) of sheep, indeed, to “farm” them are amongst the words and expressions we have been asking you to reflect upon.
As skilful, compassionate people who wish to make the best part of humanity the driving force for our future communities, we invite you to let these words go from your vocabulary with respect to cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and to free our animal friends in word as well as deed.
Together we walk The Gentle Way.