Living in Cages
by Karen West

At first it was hard to pinpoint a single aspect of nature, whose wounds affected me on an emotional level, but then I realised that there has always been this one thing that gets me worked up, angry and sad all at the same time - chicken batteries.

What I know about batteries is all from a book I read when I was young called ‘Omelette, A Chicken in Peril’, which tells of chickens in small cages packed together, one on top of the other, one bird to a cage and barely any room to move whatsoever. They spend their entire life in a cage once they are fully-grown, without having any contact with anything outside the battery. Some may think of this problem as small in the greater scheme of things, but I think that it cuts to the core of all issues involved in the way humans interact with their environment. There is no respect for the chickens as living things at all and they are heavily exploited to the extreme, with their purpose in life severely twisted to suit human needs. It is not even a need – what is the reason for placing something in a tiny cage for its whole life so that it can have no connection with the outside world, let alone its own species? Chicken batteries are the most inhumane, thoughtless and cruel constructions, and I can’t even express the distress I feel when I think about it.

Personally, I can’t stand any situation where all my choices are taken away, where my view is limited to what is just in front of my eyes. I suppose it was one of the reasons I had to move away from Darwin, which was becoming like a battery in itself, restricting the paths I wished to take in life. I needed to get out so that I could see myself in relation to the outside world, not just Darwin, and also so that I could reach my potential in life. A chicken in a small little cage could not be able to go about doing what it wished to do or reach its potential in life because it would have no life. In that small cage I could have been driven to insanity, as I’m sure all chickens in batteries must succumb to, with nothing but monotony surrounding their days. What I learnt from nature was that I was not meant to live my life in a battery, and that by breaking out I am not just a single entity any more, but part of a bigger picture.