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Are we really so different?

There are certain times in our lives when we realize that our whole life has been nothing more than one elaborate, painted lie. That time for me was a day sometime during the spring of 2008. No, actually that day was simply the beginning of a cascading landslide that resulted in the deterioration of what I once considered to be the complete and indefinite truth. The day still remains vividly imprinted in my mind and refuses to dull or disappear.

It was a cold day, the kind of cold day that the sun somehow still managed to shine brightly amongst the somewhat clear sky. The sort of day that despite the brittle cold weather and the abrasive blowing winds the sun still periodically hits your skin and when it does it feels so warm. On that day a putrid smell filled the air: a smell that overpowered every sense, the type of smell that was not only permeated through the nose but was also felt. The air reeked of raw and cooked meat or more specifically it was saturated with the stench of rotting bones and blood. Sadly, that was only the beginning.

“Welcome to the market,” a sweet-looking, brunette woman said cheerfully. She smiled at us as we filed on through into the market. I couldn’t see what she had to smile about. She must not have seen what I saw because all I saw was a horrific sight. What a strange woman she had to be to smile amongst what I considered horror. It had to be the culture. A culture I was now convinced was on the bridge of sadism and either didn’t care or didn’t notice.

“This is disgusting,” I exclaimed. I was hoping to get a reaction out my friend. No such luck.

“Yeah,” Gabe responded absent-mindedly. That wasn’t the response I wanted nor was it the one I expected. He was supposed to be as outraged as I was because we were both better than this but he wasn’t. He was just like them. He didn’t seem to care. Not to say that anyone else cared either. He was surely not alone; everyone else was just like him. No one cared except for me.

It was a wonder, how the people of Spain could manage to see sights of animals’ heads and intestines, let alone smell them. I heard of nose-to-tail eating but this was just gross and ridiculous. These people probably thought the same of us. After all we had a society with a constant need to deep-fat fry things and cover everything else in sugar. Still I couldn’t understand, at the time, how they could be alright with seeing dead animals and worse, as if at that point I believed it could get worse, buying and selling them. Didn’t everyone see how wrong this was? Didn’t everyone have my ethics? Weren’t they supposed to think like I do?

The sights became more gruesome as I made my way through the market. I saw more sights of chopped up, lifeless animals. I witness cows, pigs, and birds all laid out on display for everyone to buy and eat. It was so grotesque, almost bordering on barbaric. My emotions were set on high. I swore I could feel the pain of the animals. I could see the suffering and smell the shed blood. Even worse I could hear their cries.

“This is the essence of Spanish culture,” the tour guide chirped.

Sure dead animals defined a culture just like murder did but who was I to judge? Did I really know about a culture established centuries ago? Did I understand these people and their customs? No but I still felt it was my right as a ‘moral’ person. I had to set the odd, backwards, cruel people straight. It was my duty.

However as I heard the somber, desperate voices of the innocent once living animals that were now packed up in pieces and placed on shelves and inside glass cases for display I realized that eating a hamburger was no different than the bright pink, wet, cow tongue I was so disgusted by. I realized I wasn’t any better than them.




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