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Editor's Notebook

Facing Up To A Missing Link… And My Resultant Veganism
Susie Duncan Sexton
Published by Open Books, 2011

“We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realize that we are apes.” 
~ Richard Dawkins

Bopped on the bean with a Rosetta Stone, I submit my last will and testament. My funeral may not draw crowds, but the tarring, feathering, drawing and quartering on our courthouse lawn may be a smash affair. Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Fed to lions or my remains ridden out of town on a rail? Bring it on, Neanderthals!
Dining at the ritzy English Terrace in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, what kindergartener would not order another peanut butter sandwich and tomato soup? I ask you! But that turned out to be my “last supper” of choice. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre advised that “we are our choices” and that “it is only in our decisions that we are important.” Nevertheless, my well-meaning but sorely misguided parent suggested that the next time that we dined at our own village’s trendy, “MAD MEN” type 30 CLUB, I should try, as a rite of passage, Sarah Stalhut’s succulent, tender Swiss steak served with an aluminum foil-encased baked potato slathered in sour cream.
“Baked potato” being the only sound culinary advice emanating from Mother on that life-altering occasion, I continue consumption of the only edible object which has eyes, while keeping the Irish in business. Vegetables galore, that’s my bill of fare. Thus, recently I have slimmed down considerably due to, first and foremost, my decision to practice what I preach and not attributable to some manic diet plan.
I qualify as one of the nicest people I know. Stop the over-breeding of piglets, calves and lambs—NOW! They grow up to fart in monumental, global proportions (flatulence heard ‘round the world in a cause and effect prompting polar bears to drop dead in their tracks—known as An Aborted Circle of Life, the newest Disney musical—tra la!), if these barn babies are even allowed to mature and romp through pastures and receive names and be patted on their heads. Graphic descriptions—of the horror stories surrounding factory farming, slaughter-houses—even when Temple Grandin-ized, surreal Goya-esque shipment while crowded together within semis in stiflingly hot weather or frost-bitingly “witch’s teat” (thanks, Holden Caulfield!) sub-zero temperatures, and sundry Medieval methods of mass murder—are not really my style.
Put away all cattle prodders, and “get thee behind me, Satan!”
Growing up to the best of my ability in small 4-H-fixated (Hands, Hearts, my ass!) town sporting vacated European-style turn of the century churches on every corner and massive highly mortgaged, well-attended pole barn church “homes” lining that brief stretch of the super highway we believe to be ours alone, I mindlessly once bought in to what sells in America. I’ve been weaning myself off these intimidations for several years now to stand on my own two feet and shout like Peter Finch in NETWORK…“I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore…” Stereotyping, role-playing assignments demanding that “gals” erect cardboard cakes for decorating and also stitch up aprons while “guys” pull tractors and derby-demolish former automobiles, both genders vying for silky variegated colors of ribbons, rank as already questionable and non-virtuous to the civilized and enlightened.
Categories such as “Carcasses on Foot”, “Roaster Bunnies”, and tiara-ed blue-jeaned, teen-aged “Pork Queens” remain anathemas to me. Cash falling into young hands in payment for tons of dubiously documented live flesh seems not a nice “life” lesson.  I, the Vegan of the Midwest, look around for signs of Shylock. (Research his name for further edification.)
Leviticus, Corinthians, Deuteronomy, Matthew, Mark and Luke notwithstanding, I regard all attempts at group-think, clumping of humanity into easily controlled unit-eunuchs and the disguising of human beings’ madness for a quick and easy buck, upon the head of even one’s own mother, as wicked, evil crap.
Speaking for myself, now that I stand a distance apart from all of the machinations of a corporate America, I, at retirement age, have finally commenced serious questioning of BS trickling down to the common man. On my way out, I have some scores to settle.
How did “Ve-jan” (preferred pronunciation) happen to me, a rugged individualist? Am I suddenly trendy, hypochondriacally health-conscious, or do I just gravitate toward the fashionable word “Ve-gan” pronounced with a hard “G”—feeling all DR. SPOCK-ish”? (BTW, my mother raised me according to the tenets of that original DOC SPOCK, and that is why I am who I am today!  Yay!  No more wars!)
Intermission for a sec while I pursue the topic of mankind’s morality down through the ages and his dubious attempts to bottle and sell quicksilver for the sole purpose of control of all the two by two-ers—and how whatever came down from time to time was “all about the economy, Stupid”.  I have dipped a toe or two into immorality only as a by-stander, commencing while I still wore diapers (longer than some might believe and headed that way yet again) while simultaneously my eldest sister safety-pinned sanitary napkins tightly to her chastity-panties…a wide age span between the two of us.  Soon, the need for monthly “protection” became unnecessary as discovered when she got measured for her prom dress to be constructed by our mom. Pins in mouth and tape measure at the ready, Mother hypothesized that perhaps she herself might become a premature grandma. She was correct.
Now in 1949, “having” to marry still rated as scandalous even though presently missionary style “man on woman”…whoops!...“one man/one woman” coupling in any desired male/female combination is the latest rage and expectation and package deal.  Even heterosexual orgies receive “clapping seals” of approval, no?
Our secretive family’s reputation took a tumble, no…a nosedive—here in party-line-Peyton-Place-land. Long story short, a hasty matrimonial union happened next door down Kentucky-way where “under-age” girls were allowed to get hitched. My nephew is actually so close to my age as to be obscene. Within the teensiest of time frames, my Mennonite-ish farmer brother-in law (a toddler with a brother-in-law?) lost his arm up to the shoulder blade in a tragic corn-picker accident. Shortly thereafter my literary-minded, animal-loving (who learned to decapitate chickens and pluck out their feathers and “dress” them before she was nineteen) sis lost her mind for a short “period” (wink), experiencing what those who think they are in the know referred to as a “nervous breakdown”, John Nash style.  Electric shock treatments and all…  Please, be advised that this is still a “secret” although, in spite of all the questionable dramas in OUR TOWN, this one remains hot for various inexplicable but definitely opportunistic reasons. A million stories closely replicating ours in this Naked city-town I call…home, and “this has been one of them”…
Alright, enough soap opera, and back to reality.
Mammals devouring other mammals rates as neither kind-hearted nor intelligent…and so totally unnecessary.  Such cannibalism boggles the present day mind.  So impossible to listen to folks brag-whine about their vacation plans, automobiles, homes, kids, hobbies, hangnails, physical fitness, aerobics classes and damned health insurance coverage while approximately nine million “domesticated” potential pets in “care and CONTROL shelters” are gassed or heart-stuck or lovingly, politically correctly euthanized each year in this young, progressive country of ours.
Proclamations of afternoons wasted charcoal-grilling juicy rare steaks, of date nights when married couples hasten to evenings of boozing over piles of shrimp tails, and of endless days of plastic-toy-laden-FAST-burger-HAPPY meals devoured by overweight sky-rocketing family-focused units of kids—who are being reproduced in wack-ass numbers to “mature” to fill up church-roll books to build ever huger behemoths with crosses atop contemporary steeples—ought to cease.
An inventory is in order and must be addressed: of the irreversible damage occurring within not only our bodies racked with colon and prostate and kidney and breast cancers, heart attacks, strokes but also within our spirits and our souls. My religion and my gut inform me that THOU SHALT NOT KILL. THOU shalt not, for monetary gain, continue to breed and slaughter stressed and frightened animals en masse, freeze their carcasses, deceptively brighten packages of—long-dead and decaying—organs and flesh with toxic food coloring and serve it up for chow time.
Sorry to hurt some brute’s feelings, or threaten anybody’s livelihood, but in this twenty-first century, it’s way past time to evolve and to control our hungers and truly to begin to care about and to nurture and to revere all living beings. Compassion! No more breeding of cash cows whose children are ripped from their milk-engorged utters to be crated and fattened up and slaughtered before they stand on their own four feet to breathe in fresh, unpolluted air.
Signed:  Mad Cow, with apologies to all the Farmer Browns I have known and loved and still do. Hopefully, those money making quadruple bypasses may become a mere blip on the radar screen and peace shall be felt throughout this land forevermore once we wise up! HEART, HEALTH, HONESTY, and a HELLUVA LOT MORE HORTICULTURE!!!!!

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Susie Duncan Sexton
From Amazon Reviews...

"The turn it takes after the first third when nostalgia through a modern lens gives way to postmodern social critique, signals a seismic shift from comforting sepia to brazen Technicolor. Exhilarating and shocking and authentic. A fully realized being laying bare every influence."