Most of us blissfully assume that animals don't have a soul and so there's no real debate on whether animals, such as the over 240 million turkeys that were put to
death this past month just to satisfy our appetite for that quintessential American holiday ritual known as the Thanksgiving feast, all went to Heaven or hell - I doubt anyone gave it too much thought at all as it was just a turkey, so who really cares?
But what if it was the family dog? Or how about our beloved cat? Many would then argue that there must be a special place in the afterlife for our furry friends that were so much part of our life that we considered them to be part of our family. Many will pay incredible amounts of money to even have their beloved pet cremated or buried and will argue without reservation that their Fiddo or Fluffy certainly did have a soul. It's all about our own emotional connection to that particular animal, and that's the sort of connection we just don't make with an anonymous turkey conveniently purchased at the local supermarket, already plucked and gutted and ready to throw into the oven and cooked until the moist flesh is ready to melt in our mouths.
Amidst all this holiday pageantry there's that other now traditional ritual each Thanksgiving in which both state governors and the President of the United States publically pardons a turkey, sparing it the fate of the butcher and rather than be condemned to be devoured at Thanksgiving, this one lucky bird will instead be sent to live the rest of its life on a farm. I watch this ritual every year and always wondered how it was that they picked that one particular bird from the hundreds of millions of others that faced all but certain deaths.
Did a farmer go out to the barn and just snatch up the first turkey he got his hands on and ship it to the president and that was it? What stroke of faith spared this one otherwise undistinguishable bird from the millions of others and made it somehow worthy of this act of grace? Perhaps there was more to the story....maybe unknown to us there was a top secret commission tucked away in the basement of the White House, serving at the discretion of President Obama, and it was their solemn task to search across the vast North American continent from coast to coast for verifiable stories of remarkable acts of extraordinary valor by otherwise unknown turkeys such as that unheard story about the young child that fell into the farm pond and would have surely died if not for that one turkey that raised all sorts of ruckus until the farmer realized that something was horribly wrong and followed the turkey back to that pond, arriving just in time to save his only son. Certainly that turkey would deserve a pardon.
Or perhaps, unbeknownst to all but that top secret commission deep down in the bowels of the White House, all turkeys are inherently evil and it is our moral obligation to slaughter them and feast off their flesh just as other cultures did with their enemies, such as the Mayas who conquered their neighboring tribes and then sacrificed their prisoners to their gods, eating their flesh just as we do the turkeys. Maybe these millions of turkeys were planning to overthrow the human race and this plot would have succeeded, if not for that one heroic turkey that risked life and limb to rat out the rest of the flock. By turning snitch, he earned immunity and this whole presidential pardon ritual is nothing more than yet another governmental conspiracy to perpetuate an image for the masses of sheep (i.e., average Americans) to blindly believe, allowing them to feel morally justified when they gather around that table and feed off that turkey flesh.
Maybe Tom the turkey is actually part of the Taliban and this American thanksgiving ritual is an extension of this never-ending "war on terror" coordinated behind the scenes by Homeland Security. No, that can't be - this turkey slaughter began long before our beloved CIA created what we now call the Taliban. Oh - I know, it's got to be a communist plot, as we all know turkeys do live in what could be described as quasi-Siberian gulags and this certainly wouldn't be the first time that a former prisoner organized his other brethren to rise above their shackles and chains and overthrow society.
Now that i think about it, I do recall watching a program about poultry farms and how these seemingly innocent turkeys would gather in little groups they call "flocks" and can be heard clucking and gobbling amongst themselves in a language unknown to us. If that isn't proof enough that they must be plotting against us, then think about this for a moment...why are all these turkeys white?
Myself, I'm a white guy and I must admit that I've been white my whole life. And so I know what happens when you get that many white guys in a group as it's our inherent nature to inevitably plot to take over the world and if we can do it then why not these hundreds of millions of nothing but white turkeys, raised on farms throughout the land by white rednecks?
Which brings us to the "people" equation in all of this. Now, I guess when it comes down to it I can't really swear under oath that I actually seen what I thought I saw when that big white turkey stood on that table as our even bigger black president proudly granted it a pardon, as his daughters looked on, but I want to say that I'm pretty sure that as the camera momentarily focused on the turkey I might have seen it ruffle its feathers and sort of wink, as if looking straight into my soul and sending me that message, telepathically laughing at me as unlike that turkey, we all knew I have no chance at being granted a pardon. And even that turkey knew that if it was a person, it wouldn't have any hope for a pardon, either.
The truth of the matter is just this simple - millions of turkeys must die to feed our appetite each Thanksgiving and this whole ritual we go through to get there is necessary as it just wouldn't be the same without the ritual ....and we got to kill a few people too as that's the American way.
No, these hundreds of millions of turkeys were not plotting to take over the world and those few turkeys that were granted pardons didn't perform any heroic acts to deserve that act of grace. But I'd like to think that these turkeys, and all living creatures, do have a soul as if they do perhaps there's still hope for humanity too.
As these turkeys were led away to their mass slaughter and this machinery of death brought about their demise, delivering their frozen flesh to the local supermarket so that the average American family could feast from their flesh, then discard their picked bones into the trash without so much as another thought, I'd like to think that the soul of each of those turkeys rose above the horror inflicted upon their bodies and they now look down upon us without malice or the need for vengeance, but rather they bow their beaks in a silent moment of unified prayer that one day humanity will evolve beyond its need to kill. And maybe if enough turkeys pray for humanity, maybe one day we too will evolve into a species that is no longer driven by that need to kill and this ritual of death we so desire will be a page of past history.
But I doubt I'll be around to see it, as like all those turkeys, my days are now numbered and the state of Florida is already in the process of carrying out its own ritual of death. With what might be my last appeals exhausted, I'm now going through the "clemency" process, knowing only too well that at least here in Florida nobody has been granted clemency in over 30 years. Once they go through the pretense of clemency review, then my death warrant will be signed and my execution scheduled, and I proceed forward knowing that nobody has survived a death warrant in Florida in many year.
And most likely before the next turkey is again granted a pardon, I will be led into Florida's own slaughter house and laid out before those that gather to watch this ritual, metaphorically gathered to feed off my flesh. While convincing themselves that my death is morally justified, and some will even celebrate the successful execution, others will be hurt deeply by my passing. But in the end, society will not pass any longer at that moment of my death as they did at any other state-sanctioned killing. It is a necessary ritual and at the end of the day for the same reason we slaughter hundreds of millions of turkeys to feed off their flesh and appease our appetite, so too do we kill people by only too similar rituals and yet no matter how many might die, our appetite is never satisfied.
Michael Lambrix #482053
Union Correctional Institution
7819 NW 228th street
Raiford, Florida 32026
Please sign Michael's Petition HERE