Chapter 12: The Wine and the Winepress
Violence cannot come from the divine. Violence is barbarous. And it is only because all of humanity is almost asleep that you never question a simple thing: if you are eating living beings, killing living beings for your food, you can easily kill human beings too - it is not very far away. What is the difference?
Life is one, whether it exists in the singing birds or in the beautiful deer or in the glories of a lion; they are also our brothers and sisters.
What is the difference between a cannibal and a meat-eater? One of my friends was caught in Africa where there still exist small groups of cannibals who eat human flesh, who kill man just for eating. And because they had nothing else to offer him to eat. They had enough human meat, so they were not interested in killing him right away; they were preserving him in the same way all meat-eating people preserve their cattle for the right moment when they will be killed.
He was hungry and he wanted to eat something. There was no other way than to share whatever they were eating. And he told me - he managed to escape in the deep darkness of the night - a very strange thing. He is a meat-eater, but to eat the meat of other human beings was a shock. But, hungry and tired, he managed to eat. And he was surprised: the human meat is the most delicious.
In the beginning of this century, there were three thousand cannibals in Africa. Now there are only three hundred, because when they cannot get anybody else - and nobody goes into those parts - then they start eating their own children, their own wives. From three thousand they are reduced to three hundred. All over the world, population is a problem - the population explosion - and those poor cannibals are shrinking, and are bound to disappear soon.
But I want you to consider the fact that the moment you kill, it does not matter whom you are killing, it is always life that is destroyed. Whether it was in the form of man or in the form of an animal makes no difference. And this stupidity continues without considering that with new technology we can produce enough, and there is no need to kill any bird, any animal, any human being.
But because Kahlil Gibran was born in a nonvegetarian society that conditioning is still lingering somewhere in his unconscious. He allows it very lightly:
But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother’s milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.
That is trying to cover it up - let it be an act of worship.
Can Kahlil Gibran say the same to the cannibals: “When you are eating a man, let it be an act of worship”?
I have heard a very beautiful story about the first Christian missionary who dared to go to the cannibals in Africa to teach them Christianity, to convert them to Christianity.