Cry of the Innocent
Jessica Schmonsky, Izilwane –
What effects does the international fur trade have on the consciousness of society? How does it affect what it means to be human? The Cry of the Innocent, a revealing new film, explores the psychological and spiritual factors that contribute to animal cruelty in the fur industry. Rather than merely covering tales of brutality, The Cry of the Innocent, interprets from the “soul perspective” in an attempt to explore the underlying source of animal abuse and the subsequent disconnection in society.
Filmmaker Kathleen Lowson stresses the importance of the larger picture. The mistreatment of animals for their fur is a systemic issue that involves recognition from social, cultural, psychological and spiritual perspectives. In a recent interview, Lowson states, “the slaughter of millions of animals for their fur reflects a paradigm of a more expansive nemesis permeating our world. We are not separate from the animals, not separate from the earth… it’s all interconnected. Abuse and cruelty toward animals and the innocent is[sic] an energy of violence that carries over into our own lives. When we disconnect from the suffering of sentient beings, we disconnect from our own suffering.”
The North American fur trade began in the 1600s, soon after the first contact between Europeans and Native Americans. Trade routes took advantage of areas naturally rich in fur-bearing species, such as the Rocky Mountains, Canadian regions and the northern states of the United States, and eventually extended overseas to Europe and Russia. With the popularization of fur on certain fashionable items, fur trade went up exponentially as the French and the English competed from fur trading posts in the Hudson Bay. As the demand for beaver pelts increased, animal resources dwindled, and fur farming became an easy way to keep up with European desires.
Fur quickly became a cultural symbol of luxury and status and, for women especially, of sexuality and femininity. Nearly every small, furry animal became fashionable: badger, skunk, wolf, polecat, squirrel, musk ox, monkey, nutria, raccoon, wombat and wallaby, even hamsters and domesticated cats. But throughout history, the mink, beaver and seal reigned supreme among the most fashionable of furs.
By the beginning of the 19th century, animal rights movements were making headway in Europe, coinciding with humanitarian movements such as anti-slavery and women’s suffrage. In 1884, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was established in Europe, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in the United States followed in 1986. With the decline of agriculture as a way of life – coupled with suburban affluence and pet ownership – animal rights movements flourished among a new base of animal lovers: the pet owner. The focus originated with domestic animals but increased to include the protection of wild animals, as well. Since then, many organizations and protections have been created in the name of animal safety: the Humane Slaughter Act (1958), the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act (1966), the Endangered Species Act (1969), the Horse Protection Act (1970), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972), International Society for Animal Rights, the Animal Protection Institute, the Primate Protection League (1973), the Society for Animal Protective Legislation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)(1980), and many more. By the late 20th century, the popularity of fur dwindled as animal rights groups began to expose many brutal practices and sway public opinion. However, fur farming still exists and fur is still a wanted commodity in many parts of the world.
The Cry of the Innocent asserts that there is an extreme disconnect between human awareness and animal cruelty, evidenced by the fact that fur is viewed as a commodity, rather than as the skin of a once living, breathing, and sentient being. Even domestic cats and dogs are at risk of becoming clothing: the film explores the use of domestic animals in faux and synthetic furs to make them more “realistic.” According to The Cry of the Innocent, to address the issues of the fur industry is to address the issues of our own collective consciousness. Why do we farm or mistreat animals only to slaughter them for fashion? Why do fashion and vanity trump the lives of animals? In a modern world where warmth and style can be achieved without the desultory slaughter of millions of animals, why is fur still glamorized? These are the questions this film asks in an attempt to change the way we view skins and furs. As Lowson has stated: “The power of respect will change our world” – respect for ourselves and respect for life.
The trailer for The Cry of the Innocent, as well as links to two articles and information about the film and about the fur industry itself, can be found here.
Read more at the source: Izilwane