Of ethics and dogma

In the August 27 article “Going for the Kill,” Casey McKissick describes his Mobile Processing Unit—a chicken slaughtering and processing station on wheels that can be rented by local farmers by the day. The purpose of the unit is to provide a clean, efficient and affordable way for local farmers to process small quantities of chickens to sell, without each farmer having to invest in separate, expensive processing facilities. I think the Mobile Processing Unit is a great way for a community to share resources and promote local food.

J. McCormack, however, expressed vehement opposition to both Casey McKissick and the mobile Processing Unit in his letter [“The Killing Machine,” Sept. 10]. Among McCormack’s complaints: the slaughtering of chickens violates the Golden Rule; the Mobile Processing Unit perpetuates the disconnection that humans have to the food on their plates; chickens endure pain and suffering before being killed; the mobile unit uses fossil fuels and other resources. While I find each of these points debatable, I am most interested in responding to McCormack’s statement: “My curiosity lies in what it will take for people to shift into a lifestyle that is truly sustainable and compassionate.”

I realize that here is a person who, although we have notable differences (I occasionally eat meat and think the Mobile Processing Unit is fantastic), shares my same basic values of sustainability and compassion. I can appreciate that McCormack has strong emotions about the ethics of how we, as a society, live and use resources. We are clearly in a severe state of imbalance, using too many resources in order to sustain ourselves and our lifestyles. My guess, though, is that if you asked 10 different people to describe their detailed visions of sustainability, you would get 10 different answers.  My point here is that perhaps if sustainability is really the goal, it would behoove us to come together with other community members who share that same goal, rather than bashing them over differences.

I have known Casey McKissick for years, and his work within the community serves to make local food more available and to educate people about how they can participate in the local food economy. I would say to J. McCormack that it is crucial to be able to set aside minor differences in order to work together to become a more sustainable community. I believe McCormack’s energy would be better spent visiting Casey McKissick or attending one of his classes than bashing him in the newspaper. I am not denying the importance of an individual and societal exploration of ethics, and I completely respect McCormack’s decision to not eat meat. However, a strictly dogmatic approach to a problem as huge as the unsustainability of our collective lifestyle will be self-defeating.

— Dana Nagle
Hot Springs

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One thought on “Of ethics and dogma

  1. Sarah

    Dana Nagle writes “if sustainability is really the goal, it would behoove us to come together with other community members who share that same goal, rather than bashing them over differences.” The truth is we have come together with our community members. “We” vegetarians and vegans are among your farmers. We are clerks selling fair trade coffee. We are your recycling educators, your green builders, your solar panel installers and we are here voicing our opinions about our true vision of sustainability in probably the one of the most appropriate forums – the Mountain XPress Opinion pages. Thank you MX for publishing J. McCormack’s letter and Thank you J. McCormack for your strong, uninhibited, frank words. Like civil rights activists in the 60’s, the women who voiced their opinion about a woman’s right to vote and those who spoke out against slavery, you speak on behalf of many who envision a more safe, compassionate and fair society. Let us have a revolution on newsprint, in digital media and in our minds. We’ll see what happens down the line.

    Sarah Vallely

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