June 8, 2014

Flies in the watering trough

Guest: Eli Kassirer, local peace and human rights activist, talks about whether animal rights belongs on the list of progressive goals for a better social order. 

The circus is in town, and what better time to look at the animal rights movement. I have always been an advocate of animal rights. Even as a kid, I spent time taking flies out of a large watering trough that stood in a field of cows. Nobody seemed to mind; certainly not the cows that occasionally came over to watch a small boy dipping blades of grass into and out of their tank. Then it was the stray cats with various skin diseases. I beg my father for money to buy medicines and then put ointment on their reddened and chapped bodies. 

It is surprising to me that I am not more into animal rights after all these years. Perhaps it's because I now understand how many humans are tormented and abused. Maybe helping animals and humans stems from the same impulse. Cruelty should be stopped, whether it comes from a sadistic person, from a predatory capitalist system, or from the mysteries of our universe. Why do so many flies find themselves drowning in a large, metal watering trough?

Trivial indignities that make life impossible to live

Guest: Jo Salas, co-founder of Playback Theatre, international trainer, and author of "Improvising Real Life: Personal Story in Playback Theatre," talks about an upcoming event featuring Ben Rivers, the director of the Freedom Bus Project in the West Bank.

Our interview with Jo covered many aspects of Playback Theatre and its integration with the Freedom Bus.

The Freedom Bus tours the West Bank giving performances to Palestinians based on stories suggested from their audiences. The theory of live theater as a way to better understand human emotions is as old as Aristotle's Poetics. But Playback Theatre adds another dimension in that the stories are factual and come from the actual viewers of the drama.

We talked about some of the stores that were done on the Freedom Bus tour. One in particular resonated with me, an account of a Palestinian shepherd who comes back after being arrested by the Israeli Defense Force to find his sheep missing. Even the telling of the story helped me understand the meanness of the occupation, as well as its trivial indignities that make life impossible to live. 

Later I listened to Ben Rivers and watched a sample of Playback's work.