And the group leader starts to tell this story. It's about a prince who loves salmon. Long story short, there is a 6' speaking salmon who knows this about the prince and is so happy the prince loves salmon, even up until the point that he's caught by a fisherman and laid in front of the prince. The prince is laying out exactly how he loves salmon (food preparation techniques) and the salmon finally realizes what's going on. His dying words to the prince are: "You don't love salmon. You love yourself."
At this point I'm thinking that there is a surprisingly good message here. Wow, what a fully compassionate story to be steeped in religion and told on the subway, right? I was impressed with its radical compassion. And that's where it gets weird. The rest of the story is about the "hierarchies" of being. Inanimate objects. Plants. Animals. Humans. (Personally, I would argue humans are animals but whatever.) And how it's okay for humans to use the things "underneath" them. It's okay to eat salmon as long as you're doing something useful with your life. You are then - get this - "elevating the salmon" to a higher level.
That turn in the dialogue floored me. I don't know why. We live in a culture where people use animals for their own perceived needs with little thought to the animals' being every day. There are many reasons society (and people, individually) use to justify this every day. Maybe this story floored me because it came so close to having respect and understanding of non-human beings and yet managed to make the narrative about why it's okay to use them. That whole story seemed to be built to justify that, which in itself is crazy to me. That using other beings is such a conflicted moral issue that this story needed to be created to justify it.
I just wanted to share the experience because I struggle with people's perspectives on this issue. It is really strange to have a position that I personally feel is rooted in compassion but I'm aware my perspective seems to be so out of touch to so many people. Thoughts?