I penned my first letter, suggestions to prevent nuclear war and a vision of a post-apocalyptic world, to the editor of a local newspaper at age 10. I wrote a column in high school for a community newspaper that focused on the impact of anti-Semitism, racism, bullying, and other issues affecting students. As a college student in DC, I wrote about the threat of global warming, the scourge of crack, homelessness, murders, rape, the influence of lobbyists, and the aftermath of war. As an adult, I’ve confronted genocide, cruelty to animals, gang rape, tsunamis, earthquakes, social inequities in education and employment, and housing discrimination. I’ve written about some of the most heinous crimes against humanity, many of which I heard first hand while working to reform inmates in correctional facilities.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My pen is my sword. I come from a family of writers. My father used to sit me on his lap and read to me. My mother taught me the value of writing at a young age to express gratitude to family members for visiting or sending gifts or simply to send updates about my life and ask about theirs. I must have exchanged hundreds of letters with my grandparents. My dear grandmother once told me, “Don’t be afraid.” I never forgot those words so I never held back. I was always writing — diaries, poems, songs, and gratitude journals. I never had any formal training in it nor proclaimed to have any particular skill — only to believe in it as a useful means to affect change. I still write today. I’ve never stopped. Until now.
A few months ago, I started writing a story entitled “If Ducks and Geese Could Speak” on the heels of working on legislation to ban the production and sale of foie gras in Florida. I intended for it to be another installment in a series of articles I’ve written that present the view of the animals from inside the confining chambers where they live and die, enduring cruelty that is both unthinkable and unbearable in nature.
My goal is to provide those who do not know the truth about animal agriculture insight into these halls of hell so they will stop supporting these industries and choose a more compassionate path. As I have written each piece, it is often so painful that I feel like parts of me die every time I research and write their stories. I often say that I must be made of a billion pieces because so many parts of me die each time I write only to be regenerated when I receive letters from people who learn the truth and change.
For the first time I can ever remember, I could not finish an article. The sickness I felt writing about what happens to ducks and geese to make foie gras caused me to become dizzy and disoriented. The grief became overwhelming, it posed a threat to my health which I must maintain in order to continue to serve the cause. As I learn more about what happens to these ducks and geese to make foie gras and down products such as pillows, comforters, and coats, it indelibly scars me. It makes me question the heart of mankind. This is the story of the story I couldn’t finish.
I’m hopeful that people who eat foie gras will find out that what happens to these animals is so egregious and gratuitous that I couldn’t even write a story about them because it is so ghastly. I’m hopeful that it will cause them to have a change of heart. I’m hopeful that this story will be the voice of the ducks and geese. This is the story about the story I couldn’t finish but you can write the ending for me. You can make it a happy ending. You can use my pen. Don’t be afraid.
Andrew Kirschner, Ed.D., is a grassroots vegan animal rights activist. He writes a zero-profit blog, Kirschner’s Korner, to help raise awareness about issues affecting the global community to make the world a more humane place. To receive new articles via email, enter your email in the “Follow Blog Via Email” link at the top right of the blog.