One day when I was 13, my eighth-grade social studies teacher, Miss Eytalis, drew on the blackboard a long line with a large dot marking each of the ends. She then said, "One solution to the world's hunger problem would be for America to get rid of all its pets and to send all their food to the countries who need it." I remember she was just barely smiling, it was a dark, hooded smile. "I'd like you to go up to the board and put a mark on the line as to how much you agree or disagree that this would be a good idea to help the world," she said. "The point on the left is for completely disagree, and the point on the right is if you completely agree."
This would have been 1974, a time when children were posed these kinds of questions in the eight grade, when you could take a class called ''Emerging Nations'' in your freshman year of high school, a time when no self-respecting person even knew when the senior prom was supposed to take place, a time when I was learning about the system of checks and balances, and who the cabinet secretaries were (Earl Butz was Secretary of Agriculture!) as the president of the U.S. was resigning because of a break-in at the Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate hotel.
Well, as we each took our turns putting a mark on the blackboard, it rather quickly became apparent that every last damned one of my classmates had put their marks on the far left - completely disagree - and I was the sole person to put my mark elsewhere, which was exactly in the middle of the line. And Miss Eytalis was no help either, I don't remember her saying much of anything.
I do remember my disbelief at this, and my inability to get anyone to see my point of view at all, and how they all thought I was some kind of barbarian.
Of course, my parents grew up on farms where the philosophy was that animals belonged outside. Perhaps this colored my opinion. But I was incredulous that they thought animals were more important than people.
What this has to do with anything, I don't know. I just suddenly remembered it.
- by Francis S.