Judy Carman: Are hunting and fishing consistent with religious values?

judy-carmenGuest Author Judy Carman

This month we are honored to feature activist, author, and speaker Judy Carman as our Guest Author!

Judy McCoy Carman, M.A. is a former therapist and program director for mental health clinics, a noted author, and a dedicated activist for animal rights, environmental protection, justice, and peace.

She is the author of three books (required reading for all who love animals):

The Missing Peace: The Hidden Power of our Kinship with Animals (co-written with Tina Volpe)
Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken’s Soul and Born to be Blessed: Seven Keys to Joyful Living.

Judy is co-founder with Will and Madeleine Tuttle, of the Circle of Compassion Association and of the Prayer Circle for Animals facebook. She writes a weekly prayer for those who sign up for it at the Circle of Compassion website. At her Peace to All Beings website, you can see her books, articles, and also photos of many prayer flags for animals flying around the country.

You may also hear Judy speak at the 2014 Animal Rights Conference and the Vegan Spirituality Retreat in the Los Angeles area. Update! Judy was awarded the Grassroots Activist Award at the 2014 AR Conference in Los Angeles!

I am honored to have Judy’s story become a part of the WPW collective. Please welcome her!

Are hunting and fishing consistent with religious values?

Ken Damro’s last hunt took place when he tracked a wounded deer whom he had shot the day before. “I could see where this wounded deer had bedded down in a pool of blood and intestinal bile—where its pain must have been so intense…But the most moving aspect of this scenario was that this doe had a companion.” By reading the tracks, Ken realized that the friend never left the wounded deer’s side until she finally died. Seeing those tracks touched him deeply, and he never hunted again. Damro chronicled his journey to nonviolence in his book A Northwoodsman’s Guide to Everyday Compassion.

In his famous “Hunter’s Poem” Lemuel T. Ward described his last hunt. He shot two geese who fell to the ground near him. He watched as the male bird called to his mate, “And she dragged herself to his side. ..Then covering him with her broken wing, and gasping with failing breath; she laid her head against his breast; a feeble honk, then death….” With tears streaming down his face Ward buried the birds and threw his gun in the bay, never to hunt again.

The Buddha said, “All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?” These men saw themselves in the deer and the geese, and they could never again do such harm..

After decades of hunting and fishing, Steve Hindi had an awakening of compassion. “God knows,” Hindi wrote, “how I fought to continue to kill. Leaving blood sports meant accepting a whole new set of values, and eventually coming to terms with owing a debt I could never repay.” He buried the fish and other beings he had hung on his walls and became an activist for the rights of animals. Regarding the violence that fish experience, he said “…I know they suffer tremendously, just as we would if subjected to such horrendous treatment.”

In the depths of our souls love for all creation lives and longs to be expressed. But we also have a long history of violence and oppression toward animals, women, minorities, the earth, and beings we perceive as “the other.” Nearly every religion, at its core, attempts to counteract the human tendency to violence by teaching that love is the only way to live. Norm Phelps concludes in The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible that “We have no moral right to make choices that destroy the happiness and steal the lives of helpless beings who are absolutely at our mercy.”

Mother Teresa taught that it is our duty to protect animals. St. Francis of Assisi said we must not hurt animals and that we actually have “a higher mission—to be of service to them…” The Jain religion promotes living a life of “ahimsa” or harmlessness and lovingkindness to all living beings. In early Genesis, people and animals live together in harmony. The Bible describes a time when we will return to that ideal nonviolent, compassionate, and loving way of life in which no animals will be eaten, hunted, fished, or exploited. Many great spiritual leaders have stated that we will never have world peace until we end our war against animals. But it is up to us to let go of our violent tendencies and embrace our true nature as people who, in Dostoevsky’s words, “will at last come to love the whole world with an abiding, universal love.”
Judy McCoy Carman, M.A.

Author of Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken’s Soul

Co-Author with Tina Volpe of The Missing Peace: The Hidden Power of Our Kinship with Animals.
www.peacetoallbeings.com and www.circleofcompassion.org
2/2014

This article also appeared in the February 2014 Lawrence Journal World

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7 Responses to Judy Carman: Are hunting and fishing consistent with religious values?

  • Jele says:

    Dear Judy! This photo of You and that sweet happy dog in Your arms makes me happy each time when I see it. Thank You for this and everything You do!
    I never did fishing and hunting in my life and I do not know anyone that is practising this or that. But from my childhood I remeber following story : It was in my hollydays in Italy on the “Lago di Garda” when I was admiring a very beautyfull young italian, still a child like me and the son of the neighbours there. But one day I saw him fishing and throwing the hurted fishes away very carelessly! This was the end of my secret romance with him and I did not want to watch him a single time anymore. All his beauty had become completely sensless for me! The miracle of his beautiness was over! But when I was only 3 or 4 years old, I have been told to kill the beatles on the potato-plants between my fingers by my grandfather. So I killed them without knowing exactly what I was doing, in spite I did not really like it. I found it disgusting….

  • Craig Cline says:

    Beautifully written. As a young boy, I was taught how to “hunt” and “fish” — the euphemisms for killing other creatures for no truly justifiable reason. I had a personal experience, involving my shooting with my bb-gun (what boys learned to first shoot with back in the days of my youth) a mother robin. She let me get so close to her that I could hardly believe it. I just couldn’t possibly miss shooting her. I didn’t. When I approached her, she was lying there with her eyes fluttering and a small flow of blood coming from the hole the bb had made. This was distressing enough to me, to see her literally dying in front of me — to “witness” her death. But then I heard some “cheeping,” and looked up to see two featherless baby robins in the nest that she had built. So I had taken the lives of 3 birds with that one shot. That dreadful experience was powerful enough that I never shot at another creature with my bb gun, nor have I ever “hunted” since. The memory of the mother robin and her babies lives on in my mind, however. I am saddened every time I “see” it.

    • Peacewriter says:

      Craig, I can relate to your experience … In a way, grateful for the experience that has so touched our hearts. As you said, it changes us forever. The mother robin was one of your teachers in this life.

  • Stefan Gutwin says:

    Thank you for this beautiful article, Judy. I often find that animals are role models of love and courage for us, like those two deers and two geese. It hurts to read what they had to go through, but then their examples have brought those hunters to raise their awareness and awaken. On a deeper level, this might have been the animals’ mission, and they have accomplished it marvelously. Thanks for sharing these touching stories. I feel honored to have you as our guest writer.

  • Marlene says:

    Judy, thanks for this wonderful piece.

    I just received the superb, awesome book, Peace to All Beings, and am now on Chapter 3. You are amazing! I look forward to reading your other two books as well.

    You’re a prophet. I’m grateful and blessed to be able to learn from you.

    Also, I appreciate and enjoy your Worldwide Prayer Circle for Animals weekly newsletters. All your work highlights hope and strengthens my faith that “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” is really attainable, sooner than later.

  • Grace Raley says:

    Great article with so many fine examples to explore further. Judy, you are a Blessing and an inspiration.

  • Karen Renaud says:

    This is a powerful and informative piece. I will keep it in mind when speaking to family members who still hunt. You are a blessing, Judy, not only to the WPD community, but to all non-human and human animals. Thank you!!

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