Last night in our local animal rights meeting we watched Peaceable Kingdom (Tribe of Heart 2004) and I felt a range of emotions so strong that today I can’t help but take action. Through the stories of farmers who have experienced an awakening of consciousness, the film portrays the way farmed animals are treated and shows what organizations like Farm Sanctuary are doing to try and help these animals. I urge everyone to watch this film. For those who are not yet vegetarian or vegan it will show you the truth about meat and animal products and for those people (like me) who are already vegan it will motivate you beyond belief, to take more, immediate action to bring about change.
One of the most powerful elements of this film was the way that the blissful footage of the animals at Farm Sanctuary sharply contrasted with the horrific treatment of animals at the factory farms, stock yards and slaughter houses. I went from feeling joyful at the compassion shown by the people at the sanctuary, to feeling pure hatred bubbling from within me as I saw a newborn calf being dragged by the leg and beaten.
Much of the footage was obtained by Farm Sanctuary co-founders Gene Baur and Lorri Houston (who has since founded Animal Acres) when they visited stock yards to try and rescue any animals they could and document the abuse of others. Images of dead, unwanted animals piled up in a heap were disturbing, but when one of the animals moved their leg or panted for breath and I realised these animals were not yet dead, but being treated like garbage, it felt like a knife stabbed into my heart.
In contrast there are many incredibly hopeful moments in the film. One ex-farmer spoke of his sadness when animals on his farm were killed. As a child he was told by his mother, that it was “alright to feel bad about killing animals…but don’t let it show”. Many years later when a farm sanctuary cow named Snickers saw the man, he ran over to him and thumped his huge head against the man’s chest – right where his heart was. After that the man said it felt like a light switch had been turned on in his heart and now he could extend the compassion that he had for dogs and people to farmed animals.
One piece of footage I cannot stop thinking about today was of a newborn calf being separated from his mother and dragged away by the leg. The mother looked distraught and bellowed forlornly. I don’t know how anyone could drink a drop of milk after watching that.
After viewing such horrific footage it was a relief to return to Farm Sanctuary, where the founders would introduce us to rescued animals and tell the stories of various rescues. For me this was incredibly motivating, as David and I are going to do something similar here in Australia. It also showed how even people who have grown up to view animals as commodities can understand the emotions of these sensitive animals through meeting them in an environment like Farm Sanctuary.
The end of the film was perhaps the most powerful of all. Horrific images of animal abuse were shown whilst Moby’s haunting song “why does my heart feel so bad?” was played. Then we were shown hopeful footage of battery chickens who had been rescued being taken into Farm Sanctuary, all in time with the music. Every one of us in the meeting was shaking at the end of the film. We were speechless.
Last night I had such a terrible head ache after the roller coaster ride of emotions. However, today I am feeling less hatred and more motivated. I have the Moby song they played at the end in my head, ”Why does my heart feel so bad?” and I think I should try to hang on to the feeling of pure outrage, because it will help me take more action. It is strange how our brains try to push these things to the back of our minds.
After watching the animals happy at Farm Sanctuary it is clear that even one life is worth saving. They are all individuals after all and I think sometimes people forget that.
As Lorri Houston says in the film, “we must turn our sorrow into action and then we can bring about change”.
Amazon are not currently stocking this DVD and neither are Tribe of Heart, so it may be best to check eBay for a copy. You can also get a second hand copy from Amazon by clicking here, but unsurprisingly the sellers are charging rather a lot. If you find somewhere that sells this DVD please let us know.
Tribe of Heart currently have a new film out on the film festival circuit called Peaceable Kingdom: A Journey Home, which from the trailer looks like it will be fabulous and very moving. It will be available on DVD soon.