“I Felt Like Jeffrey Dahmer”
Those words were uttered by an extended family member many years ago.
No, he wasn’t a serial killer.
And no, he was never a cruel or uncaring person.
In fact, I always thought of him as a gentle and good soul, and he is.
As a kid I remember him as sweet and quiet.
I love him, even though I suspect that he’s hidden my Facebook posts from his newsfeed and is likely very offended by them (I don’t know this for certain, but it’s noticeable when someone suddenly has no comments or “likes” on your posts anymore and seems to have disappeared completely).
But back to the reason I was inspired to write this post.
He had called me many years ago to join the family in a reunion at his house where he would have a pig roast.
I politely declined saying that I would just be too upset to attend.
He said he understood.
Then some time later he told me how he felt preparing the pig in the bathtub.
He said he felt like Jeffrey Dahmer.
It took courage to admit that, and I’m sure it wasn’t an easy thing to face.
I appreciated his honesty.
The sad part is that the pig suffered and was killed for no real reason, because no one needs to eat pork to survive or be healthy.
The other heartbreaking aspect is that even though he admitted to feeling like a serial killer (though he had someone else do the killing), he has done what most people do: he’s discounted his gut feelings where animals meant for “food” are concerned.
He has a dog that I’m sure he’s very kind to and compassionate towards, but he likely doesn’t pause to think that the pig that was sacrificed was every bit as sensitive, sentient and emotional as his dog, and knew when death was imminent, suffering fear, abuse and slaughter by merciless hands.
I truly don’t think he’ll ever read this post, but if he does, I hope he knows that I know how it feels to be in denial that what we’re doing to animals is wrong, against every innate instinct for mercy within us, because I, too, was raised as he was–with meat served at mealtime, considered perfectly normal and certainly never looked at as cruel.
We are all victims of a society that trained us not to care about animals that were used for food; we were all brainwashed into thinking that we weren’t responsible for their suffering and death, and we were all encouraged to close our hearts to them.
We were told to “be kind to animals” but that clearly didn’t mean the ones used for food.
The only difference between me and him is that I see that pig as no different from his dog, and I confronted my own past hypocrisy of allowing others to brutally abuse and murder an innocent being and then washing my hands of the guilt.
I faced the fact that I was as guilty as the man who hires the hitman, because my dollars did in fact order the hit.
Yep, the only difference between us is that I got very honest with myself, as he began to do when he first uttered, “I felt like Jeffrey Dahmer”, but I didn’t stop there–I decided that that honesty compelled me to quit eating animals and to instead be a voice for them.
I have hope that the kind and gentle soul I know him to be will compel him to get honest with himself and not to fear or be offended by my message but to be willing to truly hear it.
Who in their right mind (and heart) would ever want to feel like Jeffrey Dahmer?
Maybe that’s why so many good people are still in denial.