This past week, I sat on the bus from New York to my home in Pittsburgh wondering what my intervention would be. Luckily, shortly after arriving at my house, I was presented with the perfect opportunity. A suburban neighborhood in Pittsburgh had recently begun a controversial process of ‘deer-culling’ to stop the over-population of deer (a common issue in Western Pennsylvania). Basically, stations were set up in several of the township’s parks where deer would be lured and then trapped so that sharpshooters could kill them. For more info check out this link: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/outdoors/2015/03/15/Mt-Lebanon-deer-cull-begins-four-killed/stories/201503150110
Animal rights is an issue close to my heart, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity for an intervention. In the spirit of re-contexualization, I gathered a bunch of literary quotes from a variety of kinds of sources (philosophers, children’s stories, movies, etc.) and printed them out to put throughout the park where the culling was taking place. Some seemed to fit the situation perfectly (like the one from the movie Bambi). Others I thought required a bit of thinking, but hopefully the source would indicate what I meant (i.e. The Lorax). I felt like my list was lacking a personal touch, however, so I added a few quotes from family members and a few that I wrote on my own about my experiences with and memories of deer. Here is the full list of quotes that I compiled:
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. – Genesis 1:21
A righteous man regards the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. – Proverbs 12:10
Meanwhile Lampetie went straight off to the sun and told him we had been killing his cows, whereon he flew into a great rage, and said to the immortals, ‘Father Jove, and all you other gods who live in everlasting bliss, I must have vengeance on the crew of Ulysses’ ship: they have had the insolence to kill my cows, which were the one thing I loved to look upon.’ – Homer, The Odyssey, Book XII
The joy of killing! The joy of seeing it done – these are traits of the human race at large. – Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World
The assumption that animals are without rights and illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality. – Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality
It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become. – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem. – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Young Bambi: What happened, Mother? Why did we all run? Bambi’s Mother: Man was in the forest. – Bambi, 1942
Not From Literature:
“They’re doing what? That’s pretty fucked up.” – My Mother
I remember when I was young and the deer ran through my yard. I remember their eyes – deep, dark brown, just like mine.
One of my favorite moments is the silent second between when the deer, having detected you, turns suddenly, alert, on edge, aware, then just as quickly turns and runs back swiftly into the wood.
As for the intervention itself, I simply hung the quotes in noticeable spots around the park (on a bench, along a trail, etc.), in hopes that they would draw attention. I purposely wanted the papers to be small but eye-catching, so that it would intrigue curiosity but not completely distract and take away from the beauty and nature of the park. After all, I was trying to make a point against that. Here are some photos of the intervention:
My goal was to force passerby to be aware of the horrifying truth that surrounded them in that very park. The culling station wasn’t really in sight, and the news of it has relaxed in the past week or so. I wanted people to come face-to-face with poignant quotes and put the issue right in front of them. I spread the quotes out enough so that anywhere a person went, they would encounter one. I hope that, in a sense, the truth would be everywhere. This type of intervention probably wouldn’t be the recipient of a strong reaction – maybe a smile from those who agree or an eye roll from those who don’t. However, the point wasn’t necessarily to get a reaction from passerby, just to remind them and keep them aware of something happening nearby. Hopefully I was successful in this.