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This Is What He Meant

By Punkerslut

Image from Tribunal-Animal.com
Image: From Tribunal-Animal.com

Start Date: Wednesday, Apirl 3, 2002
Finish Date: April 4, 2002

"...when I say I shall die, as I have lived, rationalist, socialist, pacifist, and humanitarian, I must make my meaning clear. I wholly disbelieve in the present established religion; but I have a very firm religious faith of my own - a Creed of Kinship I call it - a belief that in years yet to come there will be a recognition of brotherhood between man and man, nation and nation, human and subhuman, which will transform a state of semi-savagery, as we have it, into one of civilisation, when there will be no such barbarity of warfare, or the robbery of the poor by the rich, or the ill-usage of the lower animals by mankind." -- Henry Stephens Salt [Henry Salt, Humanitarian Reformer and Man of Letters]

     When Henry Stephens Salt said this, over half a century ago, it was as powerful then as it is today. Salt meant that cruelty and brutality were to be done with, conquered by affection and understanding -- he meant that we would become more aware of each other, that humaneness and compassion would be accepted for the natural faculties that they were. It was an affirmation of truth and duty, the very things which made up his life. It was to say that, as men and women became more aware of each other's desires, they would become more humane, and more respectful. It was to say that vice would be traded for virtue, humaneness for inhumaneness, -- and, in a very real sense, death exchanged for life. The very creed of Salt's life was kindness, and it filled him with a fervent passion to convince his fellow men to act similarly. Living in a cruel society -- a society of people who plucked every feather from the bird of humanity -- Salt learned the vices of people. His life can be defined as a sincere effort to reform his fellow men; not to something unnatural, though, but to the wholly natural state of compassion and humaneness. It was Salt's strict devotion to this duty that made him a hero. Like a cliff of humanity on the foul mountain of corruption -- a pearl among rocks -- a sole man willing to sacrifice for the oppressed among a group of barbarians -- Henry Salt stood defiant and courageous.

     The belief was rational equality and the devotion was unbelievable. It was to this end, this belief that all conscious beings deserve humane treatment, that Henry Salt worked so valiantly for. Looking upon this wondrous planet with its variety in life, Salt did not see men and cattle, lions and sheep, dogs and squirrels -- he was not bothered or worried by the differences that makeup animals. When looking at a cat, he did not see a creature with outstanding agility related to the lynx and leopard. When looking at a man, he did not see a primate walking upright with a high intelligence. What Henry Salt saw when he looked at the animals on earth, he saw creatures, all capable of feeling, all granted the same ability of suffering, all wonderful specimens of the same consciousness, the same affections, the same faculties, the same -- the same; and this is what he saw. Henry Salt saw the creatures of the world and he was instilled with a desire to liberate all who were oppressed, all who felt the tyranny of uncontrolled powers. From his reflections upon the mechanics of society, Salt saw that these creatures were the same. Mercilessness was not a virtue and viciousness was not a merit -- he understood that fairness and rational equality were tantamount to developing a good-natured character. Turning away from the creatures of the world, to see the brutalities of the so-called civilization, he saw the mass slaughter of animals, he saw the exploitation of Capitalists, he saw the abuse rendered to women and children, he saw the miseducation of schools -- these were the aspects of society that he worked to reform, that he sacrificed time and effort, tears and blood, for -- this cause.

     Every book he wrote was a plea for humaneness and every letter he wrote was a request for fairness. Justice was his cause and undying devotion was his weapon. He knew quite well that beauty, value, and worth could be found in every humane act. He knew that the bright eyes of a child were the emblem of passion, that wonder and awe were incredible shades of the heart, that kindness and duty were incomparably necessary, that affection was the epitome of being humane -- that as long as Rationalism held the hand of humaneness, we could not go far off of the trail of compassion. It was for this -- relieving the suffering of others -- that his life had been dedicated to. In his heart, the flower of warmth was in full bloom, its petals tending to the sights of suffering, its roots running deep with meaning. When others looked at the world, they saw differences: race, religion, nationality, species, gender. When Henry Salt saw the world, he saw one thing: his kin -- his friends, his allies, his loved ones. No barrier was too great for him to offer sympathy, and no individual too extremely different to be out of the pale of affection. Henry Salt was a man beyond the slow-moving cloud of semi-civilization, of barbarism and brutality -- he was, and forever will be, the beacon of intelligence and humanity that changed the hearts of men, and filled them with a vitality and zest for compassion -- filled them with an inclination incomparable with the words of any other man. Henry Salt was a true reformer and the fire of Humanitarianism burned in his heart till he drew his last breath.


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