There once was a thing named freedom. The gods created it for everyone to hold on to from birth and throughout their life, for all of us to rely on. It was a given right and we thought it was safe to stay.
It was a world of peace, as it was supposed to be. A world where we would talk and learn and see the places we wanted to see and know the things we wanted to know; it was a free world.
There was also a thing named envy. The gods didn’t create it, people did. Why? No one knows. Because the people were bored? Because they were intimidated and jealous? Who knows? But, what can we do? Envy is the flawed human trait, one of them at least.
When envy spread across our peaceful world and the people first tasted its sour acid rain, freedom started to fade. First, the people claimed the world and its land. Then, they saw the beauty of nature and took it. They saw the beauty of the birds and took it, locked them in and traded their freedom for amusement. They kept taking, claiming, and destroying. One day, the greediest of people, saw another person and took them.
Freedom has been on the brink since then. Our world has never been the same since we started taking other people’s freedom for our own comfort. Some of us want it to be the way it used to be, some want this to be a free world again. But, some of us are not enough of us.
Sixty-six thousand dogs and twenty-one thousand cats are used for testing makeup, pharmaceutical drugs, carcinogens, and much more. Within this testing, animals are burnt, abused, and even killed. Many pregnant animals are slaughtered so their fetuses can be used for testing.
Many ranchers use the cheapest ways to kill animals, such as electrocution or injecting them with insecticides, which take around three minutes of pain before the animal will die.
Footage of leading fur producing industries showed the animals being slammed against the floor to stun them and them being skinned alive.
A beef company in Texas was reported twenty-three times for cutting the hooves off of live cattle. No notifications to stop or police punishments where placed upon the company.
Videos of the slaughter house which supplies KFC with its chickens were released showing employees slamming the birds against walls, stomping on them, and kicking them. They twisted the chickens heads off, ripped of their beaks, and pulled them in half, all while the birds were still alive.
An employe from Butterball slaughterhouse in Arkansas was shown punching and stomping turkeys, slamming them against walls, crushing the bird’s skulls, and bashing them on metal handrails. All of this was done to the turkeys while they were still alive.
Animals in fur farms are kept in extremely small cages and are killed around the age of six months. The animals are kept in extremely cold conditions, so they will grow the thickest coats as possible. Many of them freeze to death, yet the industry couldn’t care less, because the fur can still be used.
The shark fin soup business kills over one hundred million sharks per year. When the sharks are caught, fishermen just cut of the fins and throw the shark back into the ocean. Without fins, the shark is unable to swim and will sink to the bottom of the sea, dying a slow, painful death.
The Humane Society of the United States discovered police officers in uniform betting on animal fighting in Kentucky.
Over 2.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized in the US due to the lack of space in shelters.
These are few of the many injustices and cruelties that animals face.
Ignorance is bliss, but ignorance won’t change anything.
In order to help, adopt animals from shelters instead of breeders or puppy mills, buy products that are not tested on animals, stay away from purchasing leather or fur.
There are many more ways to help end animal cruelty; for more, visit:
When I was in third grade, I wanted to go see Kung Fu Panda. All my friends were excited about it, but, when my mom broke the news to me that we couldn’t afford to go, I was heartbroken.
For weeks and months, I was upset about it. Until one day after school, when my mom made enough money, she showed up with the DVD and a stuffed panda bear in hand.
I’ve kept that panda bear ever since. Its name is Bob, and it’s a she. I don’t remember why I decided to give a girl panda one of the most boy names I knew at that time, but I do remember the countless questions I was asked, and the countless times I didn’t care to give an exact answer I didn’t even know myself.
What I did know was that I loved that panda. I brought it everywhere. I brought it to my dad’s home on the weekends, to the occasional family dinners, and to the sunset Malibu car rides.
It was around me when I was happy and when I was sad. I held onto it during the silent nights. I held onto it with the grip of my small, but tight hand while trying desperately not to feel alone with my family in the other room.
In a time of darkness, that stuffed animal was the last dwindling light source. It held every bit of my fighting innocence that diminished within me as I grew up, but, as I carried it with me through my life’s adventures, I carried bits of my childhood along with it.
When I moved in with my dad, I brought that stuffed animal with me.
When I went to Argentina for the first time, I brought that animal with me to the hotel, on the plane, and in my backpack on tourist trips.
Every trip I took to Mexico, I’d bring it with me.
When I went to boarding school for the first time, it stayed on my bed. When I went home for weekends, it came with me in my suitcase. When I went to OVS for the first time, it came with me.
After I got back surgery before sophomore year, with all of my emotions ridiculously heightened from the the extreme pain meds that put me under, I had a mental breakdown for hours because I thought I had left this panda at OVS. It didn’t stop until my uncle lifted up my blankets and handed it to me.
I was fifteen then.
Then the Thomas Fire came. In a panic, I only had thirty minutes to pack anything valuable to me. Without hesitation, I grabbed my panda and threw it into the bottom of my bag. The dorm parents told us we would only be gone for the night, but I couldn’t risk it. I cried when I thought I left it at school, I couldn’t imagine what would happen if it burned. I had to bring it with me.
It seems ridiculous how emotionally attached I am to an inanimate object now that I’ve grown up, but it’s still important to me. It stays on my bed and it no longer goes on trips with me; I no longer rely on it. I don’t hold it when I fall asleep. In fact, it sometimes slips onto the floor guiltily in the middle of the night. But, whenever I’m distraught or alone, I grab onto it and hold it as tight as I can.
It may still be a stuffed animal, but it’s so much more.
It’s the last thing I have from my mother. I no longer have photos in my possession or objects from her and, despite all the tragic, dark times, this bear represents one of the few good memories I have of her. It symbolizes the goodness in her which faded away over time, but is still kept as a stored memory I hold onto – literally.
It holds my innocence. My ruined, diminished childhood innocence still stays safe inside that stuffed animal I look at every time I make my bed and I still smile about it.
The panda symbolizes my childhood. Without it, the last remnants of it would vanish.
I have known you since the second you took your first breath and became a part of this world. I have loved you from that moment on and I am so thankful for every minute I have spent with you so far. In these four years of your life, I have only learned to love you more and more with everything you do.
I know you are “just a horse” and I may sound crazy to some people, but you will always mean the world to me.
When I couldn’t ride your mother anymore, a part of my world collapsed. She has been my pony since I was eight years old, she was my best friend. The day we decided to breed with her was the day my world started to come together again. Breeding horses always means taking a risk. There was no way I could have ever expected you to turn out so perfect.
I was there for your first breath, your first step, your first sprint, your first fall. I wasn’t there for your first jump, your first time carrying a saddle, your first ride. I am sorry. I am sorry for all the things I’ve missed out on, because I wasn’t home. I am sorry I wasn’t there for you as much as I always have wanted to.
But, now you’re coming here. Now, you’re traveling 6,000 miles to get here, where I will see you and love you every single day. You are a piece of home and so much more than that.
Let me correct myself. You are not “just a horse,” you are my horse.
Over the weekend, I went with my school to a Pony Club mega rally for the first show of 2018. I was so excited. I’ve been riding my horse, Time, for weeks in preparation, and every single time I jumped he had been a saint.
This weekend was different. It shattered any self confidence I had in my riding skills when Time threw me off over a simple cross rail in the warm up arena and bruised my back so much that it currently hurts to breathe as I’m sitting here trying to do my homework after waking up at four am every morning this weekend to get to the show grounds.
I had fallen off just the day before when my horse stopped right in front of a jump. Now, I have to admit that it was my fault that I was in two-point way too early, but that’s besides the point. Not a single scratch was on me, and I shook off the dirt from my helmet, got back on, and finished the course I was set out to do.
However, that was not the case on Saturday. When I hit the ground, I was certain that if I moved even just an inch my body would shatter into pieces and I’d be sent to the hospital in an ambulance. I couldn’t get up for minutes, until I was rolled onto my back, then I stood up, and I slowly walked foot by foot back to my stall without even getting to do that course.
I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to ride the next day either, and that weeks of training would’ve gone to waste. But the next day I ended up getting back on my horse and started jumping, and though my entire body was shaking every time I thought my horse would refuse a jump, we ended up clearing both courses.
But I guess there’s both pain and pleasure in horseback riding. There’s the sense of accomplishment when you jump a new height or when your horse comes to say hi to you and nuzzles his nose into the palm of your hand when he thinks you have treats. But there’s also the hours of pain whenever you fall off or when a horse steps on your foot. There’s the moments of self-degradation whenever you see a person with better position or better clothes, and the constant thoughts that plague your mind thinking that you’ll never be as good as them.
I’m not going to lie and say that my confidence in my jumping is back, because it’s not, and I don’t think it will be anytime soon (or, at least, until all the bruises go away), but it was a learning experience to some extent.
I’m going to fall off, and probably more times than I wish, and I’ll get back up, and fall and get back up, and that’ll keep happening, but I’ll still continue riding until I no longer can.
If I hear just one more person saying that “horseback riding isn’t an actual sport,” I will literally rip out their eyeballs and stuff them in their ignorant mouths. Maybe not literally, okay, but seriously, figuratively.
I don’t think I can handle another baseball or golf squirt trying to explain to me that “the horse does all the work,” because all I do is “sit on it.” Well okay, Richard, I don’t really see you doing much exercise when you walk along next to your caddie. Have you ever tried even holding a horse, a living being that weighs like a thousand pounds and usually really isn’t in the mood for cooperation? I bet your baseball bat doesn’t step on your feet ten times a day.
And how about the fact that riding horses literally consists of trying to control a usually gigantic flight animal that could probably kill you if it really wanted to, and to do so you literally have to use every single muscle you posses in your tired, half dead body? Then try doing that for like an hour a day, without getting 100% frustrated, or, you know, dying.