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Do You Get It?

Story ID:9460
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:? ? usa
Person:Dr. Matthew Sleeth
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My older sister cries at the drop of a hat. She is really not alone in this regard because I found others like her in a Guidepost story. I was surprised. I thought it was a weakness, but having a caring, compassionate heart can never be considered a weakness.

She will smile when she reads this post written through tears. She would understand. "She gets it." Sadly, comparatively few people really "get it."

I was reading the HSUS bi-monthly magazine called "allanimals." It contains wonderful posts with stories of caring people and this one especially brought tears to my eyes - tears of joy.


I so rarely read about religious clerics, nuns, etc. showing evidence of compassion for the environment and especially God's creatures who somehow we feel we can do with what we like. In this category we are generally cruel. You just have to visit a Cafo (Confined Animal Farm Operation.) Matthew Sleeth, a non-cleric did, and of this cafo operation with a hundred thousand chickens in barns he observed -"You would not let a child in there."

He said that we have moved from an agrarian society to an industrial one. He notes that people don't see how the chicken lives - in a cage where each bird has less space than a piece of paper. This means they can never spread their wings which is like us never being able to walk.
And imagine living like this for their all too long but short lives before being slaughtered after their egg laying days are over.

He remembered growing up on a childhood farm where cows had names and they had personalities. He also remarked that the measure of the farmers was how well they cared for their animals. The farms then were healthy places where you could let children see the animals.

Who is Matthew Sleeth? He was an emergency room doctor and head of a hospital's medical staff. He and his wife and two children were living the "good life" in a big house - wanting for nothing. Then one day things would dramatically change for the Sleeths at a surprising time and place. They were vacationing on an island off Florida's coast. One evening, watching a beautiful sunset- Nancy, his wife, mused "What is the biggest problem in the world?

Obviously well read, he responded "that it was the destruction of the environment, the extinction of species, and the pollution- sickening and killing many of his patients." It was evident that he was a comparatively "rare breed." Somehow I think of doctors in a less admirable way, but I am glad that he was different from my generalizations re them.

Even now I am angered getting a letter saying that Pfiser is still producing Premarin which tortures and traumatizes countless mares for their urine. How mamy doctors are still prescribing this horrible useless drug? Even the USDA I believe has told doctors to stop getting kick backs from the pharmaceuticals to pedal their drugs. This one has cruelty to mares written all over it.

But Dr. Matthew Sleeth is different. He was also someone who reads the Bible and there he noticed a theme re how we should treat animals. We are to care for them and to treat them with some dignity. He recounted a biblical law which said that if your enemy's donkey is stumbling under a heavy load, you are suppose to stop and help the donkey.

Then his observation of the worth of a sparrow That even though a sparrow is only worth a couple of cents in biblical times- that God groans when this tiny single bird falls from the sky. What was God trying to tell us? Per Sleeth "How can you get your head around how much God loves you unless you can first wrap it around how much he cares about this tiny bird."

And his thoughts on keeping holy the Sabbath also applies to not only caring for ourselves but for also giving animals rest. And he observes that when we have restraints on the animals in a confined situation - not being able to turn around or even see outdoors - we are breaking this commandment.

Too bad that our legislators who profess to be Christian don't accept this wonderful kind reasoning of Dr. Sleeth. How can they see God so differently then people of compassion?

Re changes in his family's lifestyle, he is now much more concerned about where the food comes from. While the family does eat eggs and meat, they buy their products from places of compassionate care. And personally, he also said that he now probably eats a tenth of what he did when he was 20.

When asked how he replies to people who say that it is more important to focus on human concerns than animal welfare -he responded:

"They're inseparable. If we're the kind of people who worry about how animals are treated, we are by definition better people."

Wonderful answer to give to the many uncaring people who will ask us this question. We're in this together and if we care about the animals as Dr. Matthew Sleeth observes "By definition we are better people. And I might add - WE DO GET IT."