I find myself in a state of swelling anticipation over Liz Marshall’s feature-length documentary, The Ghosts in Our Machine, due out in theatres in early 2013. (Watch the trailer and get more information here.)
With Jo-Anne McArthur, award-winning animal rights photojournalist, and her graceful imagery as the protagonists, the film takes an unabashed, heartbreaking look at animals (or ‘ghosts’, in the context of the film) and their often unseen place in our high tech, highly mechanized world. The tragedy is the fate of the ghosts, save a lucky few who have been mercifully rescued from the machine and placed in loving havens for their remaining days. The terrifying irony is that while we live in a time of hyper-information, the volume of what is hidden from our view is growing by leaps and bounds. And what is hidden has a magnitude of consequence only rivaled by its own intolerable levels of cruelty.
The disconnect between humans and the sources of their food and other purchases is vast.
The conditions under which our food is ‘manufactured’, our clothes sewn and our mobile phones assembled are under constant scrutiny by a small faction of humans, yet remain an afterthought at best for most of the ‘civilized’ world. Under the collective microscope of Marshall’s direction and McArthur’s discernible eye, The Ghosts in Our Machine carries a pressing moral significance. Marshall’s stated goal is that the audience is provided with an experience that inspires awareness and consciousness. I can only hope that the film’s crucial message becomes etched into the dormant consciousness of the masses.
Struck by a lightning bolt of inspiration while daydreaming at work, I composed a poem as a nod to the movie, its director, and the innumerable ghosts. The subject matter of Marshall’s work, of JoAnne’s art, and of my much more modest piece of poetry, represents the very essence of why I am vegan. The benefits to both my health and the environment are invaluable added bonuses, but I need no other incentive than the plight of animals.
Like many others, my path has been paved with passion, distress, vigor, and benevolence. I’m frustrated by the deluge of unwitting hypocrisy while uplifted by transient moments of compassion, natural beauty, and love. Above anything else I have experienced in the past, it is being vegan that scrupulously defines me and is that which propels my heart forward through this life.
Here is the poem. I hope you like it.
Beyond the green fields, a heartache is known
Clandestine it flourishes for the light can’t be shown
Without virtue, the breadth of this crime only has grown
Hidden from view, disrespected, demeaned
A conveyor belt of agony, they ride on, unseen
Billions upon billions of ghosts in our merciless machine
Their cries burn my ears until tears fall like rain
I ask, “through incessant suffering, how can anyone gain?”
In their world, sadness, loneliness, and darkness reign
I know well the anger, it burns but it’s mine
I sense both their innocence and their trust keep them blind
When finally they see, it’s too late, their fate too unkind
I see the fear in their eyes, as their death is surmised
I feel their absent joy, their longing to live, not to die,
Yet by flowing rivers of blood, I’m reminded of their plight
Misled for too long, I was part of this scheme
Shamelessly lied to through ignorance, through greed
Once and for all the shackles are gone, for sad truths set me free
With conviction, I dream of unity, of peace
Where causeless evil, anguish, and torture will cease
When the prisoners, the ghosts are granted their belated release
Few have awakened, while the masses still sleep
Obliviously they sow, I care not what they reap
For the animals I yell, for the animals, I weep
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