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A Letter Exchange with Pete Seeger

Story ID:9524
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:? New York usa
Person:Pete Seeger
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In 2010 - Janet from California had sent us a plea to ask California's
fair promoters to remove a live cow birth venue. How absolutely unfeeling
for people to take away the needed privacy of a mother cow during her
birthing. Why do we think animals are so different from ourselves? They
have the same basic needs as we do, and we should respect them. Among
those needs is giving them privacy and seclusion during the birthing

That year I saw a Pete Seeger special and I, like so many, was intrigued
by his life's story. He was then celebrating is 90th birthday, and I decided
to write him re my concern for cows. I wondered if he had any feelings for
the poor cows we incarcerate in factory farms? Precious few do. In my letter
to him I asked this man who had written so many beautiful folk songs during
the Vietnam War era like "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" if there was yet
another song left in him to write.

What chudspah and even audacity -thinking that writing a song at 90 was an
easy and doable process. And then probably I should have realized that animal
issues may not even be a big concern of his. But stll, I was glad that he
was kind enough to reply with a form letter to which were added some hand-
written lines re my request.

At this time Pete said that he had been bombarded with letters and requests.
God bless him! I wasn't the only one bothering this incredible 90 year-old man.
I then hoped that he, Toshi his wife, and their 3 kids were managing well-
despite entrusions from people like me in their private lives in New York State.
I also hoped that they were enjoying relative peace and quiet and doing what
they loved.

He wrote: "I'm mainly busy in my hometown now, singing with kids. But I also
sing in NYC or upriver occasionally, taking the opportunity to talk to people
I disagree with. That's a skill we should all learn."

Words of wisdom from this sage and words I agree with now -even though he and
I had differed on the merits of fighting in Vietnam. Yes, he was right, and I
was wrong.

I sent him the words for a song I hoped someone would be inspired to compose.
He said that while he could not compose a song for my lyrics, he included an
address which he said was sort of a meeting place for song writers. Maybe
one of them would be inspired to fulfill my request.

I thought that was very kind of him - first to respond at all and then to
understand that my request was valid. Sadly, no music writer was so inspired
by my words called "A Mother Cow's Lament."

Even though my words were hardly the stuff of a gifted lyricist, all the same
they contained a message of concern and compassion.

A Mother Cow's Lament

I am standing in a milking line with hundreds of other cows in
this confined large, airless factory barn -day in, day out.

Imagine having to endure the smell of your wastes and all the
other cow wastes -day in, day out.

Aside from unending boredom, we are kept artificially inseminated
in order to give birth to calves and produce milk - which they
will not have much of. The milk is reserved for humans.

We are kept pregnant to produce milk. We are not even allowed to
enjoy sex with bulls anymore. We are artificially inseminated
with their sperm - the taking of which must be uncomfortable
for them -year in, year out.

Our calves are taken away almost at birth - the males to a veal
crate where they can't even turn around for the few months of
life before they are slaughtered. What cruelty to my baby boys.
I didn't even get a chance to shower them with my mother's love.

Nor would my daughter calves feel a mother's love, because they are
taken away to be raised separately -to one day join me in this
terrible milking line - day in, day out.

What kind of people treat babies like this? What kind of people
treat mothers like this? Obviously, people who think only
human beings have needs, feelings, and concerns.

Life in this airless barn deprives us of God's sunlight and His fresh
air. Couldn't they take us out once in awhile for a walk to
stretch our legs and feel the warm rays of the sun? Man is not
the only one who needs to exercise.

Well, now approximately after 5 hellish years in this milking line,
I will be freed - no more endless milking, no more painful births or
separation from my calves. No more dreary, airless, smelly living
in these factories from hell.

Is it reward time? A summer in a plush meadow with flowing streams of
pure, fresh water?

Yes, I'm only dreaming. Man wants to be rewarded fer a lifetime of work
but thinks nothing about rewarding mother cows for 5 years or more of
endless, tireless milking in an airless, smelly factory line. No
happiness or leisure for us - ever.

Now we find ourselves in a different line - a slaughter line. The smell
of death hangs heavy in the air. Yes, we are frightened.

Please God, may the stunning gun render us unconscious so we won't have
to go through the killing line alive where legs are lopped off and
the skinning process begins. Sadly, some cows have endured this
horrible, horrible pain.

We can't help asking God - are we in hell? It sure feels like it.