It’s a thought exercise we pose regularly to students as part of our humane education program, ‘Joining the dots’. We ask them to write their detailed list on an A4 sheet of paper. At the same time we have Paula, Little Miss Sunshine Hen’s personal assistant, pen the many activities this inquisitive and industrious little hen got up to the previous day.
But we also charge her with the additional task of writing down on another A4 sheet of paper just what Little Miss Sunshine did in her day two years ago, prior to coming to Edgar’s Mission.
Amidst much chattering and scribbling the bell tolls, and it’s pens down. The children are then requested to hold up their pieces of paper while Paula holds up the two lists of LMS’s exploits. However one sheet is blank.
Our thought exercise rolls on as we explain that the reason one piece of paper is blank has nothing to do with the fact LMS cannot remember (for chickens have been shown to have very good memories).
No, the reason the page lists nothing is because that vividly portrays exactly what this dear little hen did, languishing inside a small wire cage with three other hens. Saddest of all is the fact she did all of that in an area the size of less than an A4 sheet of paper.
To be able to stretch your wings, to feel the sun’s rays on your back, to be able to scratch about in the soil, to move away from those you don’t like, to hang out with those you do and to be able to lay your eggs in private; these are the most fundamentally important and basic things a hen like Little Miss Sunshine needs in her life for it to have any meaning or purpose.
Yet sadly these very same things are legally denied to over 12 million caged egg laying hens right now in Australia. How has this happened in a nation that cares deeply about animals?
Sadly when it comes to our animal protection laws, we really have been guilty of playing favorites. Caring not about an animal’s ability to suffer, but rather our familiarity with them, our ‘use’ of them and the shape they come in dictates our society’s acceptable treatment of them.
Yet science and common sense tells us that all animals feel pain, all animals feel joy and all animals wish not to be harmed. Our politicians know this, those who farm animals for food and fibre know this, but sadly so many people do not. They simply haven’t joined the dots.
Every day of our lives we are writing our own epitaph – the things we do, the things we say, and even the things we accept, all tell the world so much about who we are as individuals.
So, if you were asked to write your list of what you did yesterday, will it include the words, ‘I made the world a kinder place for animals’? On behalf of Little Miss Sunshine and animals everywhere, we sincerely hope so.