|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
17th World Vegetarian Congress 1963
Mr. Geo. Hiller, Germany
We know that vegetarianism can be based on many good reasons. In the last analysis, however, we find it rooted in the human heart, not in the intellect, though the latter used by a well-meaning person can furnish amazingly good proof of our way of life. But there are also antagonistic forces in Man, which, comparable to the force of gravitation, draw him down from the height of humanity and prevent reason from guiding him. We are horrified at the "splendid achievements" of the intellect and of a science which would better be called "science of the heartless." They have almost led to the destruction of life and earth.
The true essence of the human being, which raises him above the natural
level of a beast of prey, is not the reasoning intellect he forged as
his sharpest and cruellest weapon in the struggle for life. It is his
merciful heart or the genuine humanity within him, which lives in this
rough and cruel environment, and presents itself as witness to his divine
origin and to the loftier realms of higher morality, of which he is
Poets and thinkers have mourned for the "Paradise Lost "; we vegetarians deplore the " Heart Lost." Don't we often feel strangers in a world of insensitive hearts? How can these calloused hearts be resuscitated to the greatness of the love of God, a love indivisible and unlimited? This was the question and concern of ancient religious leaders. Today people make efforts to help the underdeveloped areas and nations by supplies of money, machinery, dried milk and tinned meat. However, they ought not to forget to care for their own hearts, which are equally underdeveloped.
As we stand up for animal welfare and vegetarianism, some like to accuse us of sentimentality. But in fact we are the ones who have the courage no longer to pass by the slaughterhouse with closed eyes. It is we who don't hush up the bloody crimes, which are daily committed against millions of fellow-creatures. Nor do we allow people to get off with the excuse that they were not told the truth. The hearts of millions of men might be resus-citated to mercy and humanity, if at length they would be led to the dreadful places where their filesh-food is being produced. For even if the modern slaughterhouse with its indifferent machinery, assembly-line, glazed tiles and running water, conveys the suggestion of "humane killing," no technical perfection of mass murder will ever wash the crime of its barbarism from the soul of man.
Vegetarianism is meant to be a step forward in the evolution of human hearts. The day will come when the great world religions with their leaders and followers also return to the wisdom and kindness of the heart, which God has so long called for through His messengers and prophets. To pave the way to that great event is the mission of the Internatonal Vegetarian Movement. In compliance with the saying of the Prophet of Nazareth: "What you have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done unto me." We vegetarians believe that whatever we have done to one or all of our unknown lesser brethren in the animal kingdom, we have done for the evolution of human hearts, too.
There must, and will, be put an end to the predominance and terror exerted by the ethically underdeveloped within mankind. For this goal let us work with all our hearts, as long as they will beat!
The humanitarian concern of individuals is likely to be as old as mankind. There have always been people who looked for a path leading to an improvement of symbiosis in nature as well as in civilisation, and thus to a "humanization" of both.
As for vegetarianism, we are in a fortunate situation, because anybody can, at any time, put into practice its consistent demand, not to kill animals for food, i.e., to behave as humanely as possible towards one's fellow-creatures.
Nevertheless, the ethical point of view is only one of the various aspects of vegetarianism. Let me, in this message of the German vegetarians, point to another one, namely, to the importance of vegetarianism in the field of political economy. Here it proves the possibility for men and animals to live together on this earth under worthy conditions, which allow both to feed sufficiently. It was not until the 15th World Congress in India that I realised these implications perfectly. There is one overwhelming problem Indians have to struggle with: hunger. If the great majority of them did not follow the vegetarian way of life, famine would even be more catastrophic to their country. As this is by no means unknown to the intellectual and political leaders, the Government generously welcomed all foreign delegates to the Congress as supporters of Indian Vegetarianism.
People in the German Federal Republic are living under the intoxicating
circumstances of what is called our "economic miracle." As
a result, there is small prospect for us to draw the general attention
to the fact that vegetarianism is of advantage to political economy.
This is only too evident, for as long as Western Germany is capable
of exporting enough precision tools, chemicals, steel products or motor
cars, her miracle worshippers may eat as large steaks as they like.
Nothing will disquiet them except their conscience, which might, perhaps,
remind them of the fact that they callously feast while numberless people
on earth are suffering from hunger or starvation.
How many areas are wasted by man on gratifying his greedy palate with
a bit of meat 7
With gratitude I can announce as a German delegate, that vegetarianism
and living reform have made considerable progress in Western Germany,
which is demonstrated by the fact that almost 3,000 health food stores
are in existence there and that a great many physicians and clinics
follow nature cure methods.
It depends on vegetarians everywhere to convert everyone to vegetar-ianism-when this happens we shall have not only humanitarianism but a sound political economy.