Over here it’s traditional to eat lamb on Easter, just like it’s traditional to eat pork on Christmas. Which of course implies a large number of those animals being slaughtered just before the respective holidays, some of them in very public places, either actual markets or areas that temporarily become markets, so the meat will be as fresh as it could possibly be when the customers make the purchase. And there are also traditional methods of slaughter, so there’s a high resistance to these new norms that’d supposedly attempt to make death less painful and less stressful for the animals, at least on paper.
I’m sure it made perfect sense to someone at some point to celebrate the resurrection of an adult man by killing the young of some other species and the birth of that same man by killing the adults of yet another species, but to me it seems about as wrong as you could possibly get when it comes to something like this. Despite this, a tradition related to a religious event becomes part of the religion in question, which turns this slaughter into religious sacrifice, even if the ones doing the actual killing aren’t priests. And that only adds to the hypocrisy of Christianity…
Easter was the only Christian event that ever held any real significance for me, but this slaughter of lambs has always bothered me quite a lot. I guess the reasons why this bothers me much more than the slaughter of pigs before Christmas are that lambs are “children”, that I don’t usually see lamb meat at any other time and that I really don’t see sheep as an animal raised for its meat, so the whole thing feels very wrong to me. Not that killing any animal capable of realizing what’s going on with it simply for the sake of tradition could ever be anything other than very wrong, but those reasons make this particular slaughter even worse.
And it doesn’t actually serve any religious purpose either. The religions that required sacrifices in ancient times had a purpose for them, and same goes for those that are still practiced in modern times and openly include such rituals. The purpose of such a sacrifice was to be a very appealing offering, for the believers to offer a life to a deity, spirit or whatever other entity or force they worshipped or invoked, in the assumption that a life is more valuable than anything else they could possibly offer. And this offering was either a payment or a bribe, given in exchange for certain services that were expected from the entity or force in question or in an attempt to appease said entity or force when it was perceived as being angry. But you don’t see any of that here. You have a slaughter under the guise of religious tradition, which would therefore appear to be ritual sacrifice demanded by the religion in question, but real reasons for it aren’t even provided by that religion. And that makes it killing for the sake of killing, simply because people are used to it…
So why aren’t things done differently? In fact, why don’t the religious authorities involved in this try to change this tradition? Especially now, when a certain level of awareness regarding animal rights can be observed in certain areas of society, such a course of action would seem not only morally right but perhaps also appropriate from a political point of view. And politics and morality so rarely have anything in common that such moments should not be wasted!
Others can try, but this is a religious tradition and therefore any significant change is much more likely to catch on if suggested or even just supported by the relevant religious authorities. Believers could be encouraged to focus on the less harmful traditional activities and other options for the traditional dishes that are thought to require lamb meat could be provided. Those options could include recipes based on various other types of meat, vegetarian alternatives and even completely different dishes and activities. Sure, creating “traditional” recipes based on various other types of meat may not actually reduce the number of animals slaughtered at this time each year, but making multiple types of meat equally acceptable and desirable would spread the demand and therefore significantly reduce the need for any such focused slaughter, plus that this would obviously be perceived as the least significant change and therefore be the most likely to catch on.
It seems to me that a religion whose followers claim to be so good and kind and righteous can only suffer when stained by such cruel activities done in its name. It’s simply hypocrisy; Christians claiming they’re all that while at the same time supporting and participating in something like this. They should do something about it even if only because it makes them look bad, while everyone else should do something about it because it’s not right to allow this practice to continue as it currently is.
Who knows, maybe things will change in a few years. I can only hope… It’d be a big step in the right direction even if people would just start thinking about this and all the other things they do in the name of religion or tradition, taking the reasons and the consequences into account instead of just going through the motions because that’s what they believe they’re “supposed” to do.
If that’d happen in this particular case, it’d be a nice day for the lambs. If it’d happen in general, it’d likely be a very nice day for the whole world, as a lot of harm has been done, and continues to be done, in the name of religion or tradition. If only more people would apply moral filters to these things instead of defining morality according to them, we could end up being on the right path for a change and, while tradition can never drive progress, it could at least stop hindering those who try to make improvements.