Unfortunate lesson in oxen’s fate
The folks at Rural Vermont recently wrote a Times Argus op-ed piece that pretty much stated the obvious: that people must understand meat comes from animals (something everybody except maybe 3-year-olds knows full well). But it seemed to me that they, and the administrators of Green Mountain College, for the most part missed the point as to why so many people were so upset about the college administration’s decision to eat Bill and Lou, the oxen who had tilled the fields and pulled the carts at the college for a decade.
The administrators said they would be exhibiting “sustainable agriculture” by killing Bill and Lou and feeding them to the students in the school cafeteria. Had they announced they were slaughtering two “beeves” or pigs raised expressly for that purpose, there probably wouldn’t have been much reaction, certainly not one of the magnitude that did occur.
But Bill and Lou were different; they were part of the college community and had earned their keep. But, instead of pensions, they were going to get the ax. This is a scenario that far too often parallels what’s happening in the human workplace these days and, to some degree, probably added fuel to the furor. Although the college administration said it was exhibiting sustainable agriculture, it actually was demonstrating that “might makes right” and that Bill and Lou had to die because somebody somewhere said they must. The story, which eventually had a happier, more humane ending, would not have been a good lesson for the students to learn. After all, it wasn’t as if the students were starving and needed to eat Bill and Lou to survive.
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