It's easy to judge. It's even easier to judge from the comfort of your armchair, comfy bed or kitchen table. No one is innocent of it either.
What's not easy is judging people out in the field, in the middle of the chaos, when the lines of good and bad become pretty blurred. Behavior is not so black and white, and things aren't as simple as they seem from your computer screen.
In the last twelve months I've done a lot of traveling, I've been to corners of the world I never fathomed I'd visit, and seen how things that seem so clear cut quickly change to grey when you become more involved. The work I do through charity is something I've always dreamed of doing, and I love it. I'm lucky I was raised to be fairly un-judgemental of things, and was aware of various sides of humanity from a young age, thanks to both my parents occupations.
I truly see awful things when I travel. But I love it, I enjoy jumping in and working, The gore and horror don't bother me to much. I'd be lying to say that the work I do is purely unselfish. Because I get pleasure out of it, satisfaction, adventure and a sense of helping others,it makes me feel like a better person for doing it. I'm definitely still no saint.
But I've learned you can't judge what you don't experience, being an expert on a subject is not the same as understanding it. I've learned every one has an opinion, whether it's good, bad or the most pig headed ignorant point of view I've ever heard of.
One thing I've really learned though is how incapable we are of judging cruelty. I've have seen some of the worst suffering, the worst treatment, the cruelest forms of survival in the last twelve months and sitting at home writing this on my bed I feel less capable than ever of forming an opinion and a judgment of it.
I have seem animals suffer at the hands of humans, more than I thought possible. Seeing it and having to deal and treat it in the flesh is far different from looking at a photo and being shocked by what I've seen.
I have no doubt that there are bad and very cruel people in this world. I dont think it matters if they are brought up in poverty or abundance. Bad people will do bad things.
I also know that poverty, and lack of education is a hot house that leads to suffering and acts of cruelty among good people. I know that religion has a lot to answer for.
In one part of India I saw tiny skeletal and dehydrated ponies carrying almost their body weight in cement bags, rocks and gas bottles up mountains. These ponies worked until they died and lived a life of unimaginable misery. Once near death they are left on cliffsides for leopards and scavengers to do away with the bodies. A lot of these ponies problems could be solved with something as simple as better access to water. You want to hate the people and it's easy to from behind your computer screen
But what about the countless number of people alongside the ponies, the men who work in gangs to push huge carts of supplies up the mountain, skinny and bow legged from malnutrition, missing teeth and with out shoes going up steep rocky paths. Or the women in bright sari's with basket of rocks on their head or hips who work all day laying down rocks on the road, usually with there newborn babies lying just meters away on the ground. The conditions and life expectancy not so much better from the ponies that we westerners judge them for treating so badly.
Suddenly who's right and wrong becomes less clear.
Emaciated animals turned loose to roam the streets with broken limbs and twisted bodies is heartbreaking, and you wonder how thousands of people walk by and turn a blind eye every day. But then you see beggars, even more twisted, barely recognizable as human, dirty children and old women who fare no better that live the same fate as the animals and that line of judgment gets even more blurry.
What about the mules who work all day carrying loads of bricks In the sun, until the weight of the cart creates huge open gaping pressure sores on their backs and still they work. But when the day is done they go back to their families home, which is just stacked bricks with a sheet of metal on top, and the mule is put into a stable that is the same size of the entire family home. That is to say one room with a roof. Beneath each towering brick chimney are courtyard settlements of the stacked brick rooms and from the outside you cannot tell which is mule stable and which is family home. Animal and man live in exactly the same conditions, neither works harder than the other, the mules fair better most of the time, at least they have a room to themselves. So are these people selfless to ensure the animal they rely on lives as good as they do, or selfish for working it until its raw and bleeding?
Not so easy to judge now is it?
Cruelty in these country's is never black and white. There is never a goody and a baddy, but more a multitude of suffering and survival.
When I see comments underneath our photos posted on the internet it makes me mad and I do judge, who are these faceless people to say that "these people should be hung" or how they are "monsters" and "wish I could treat them how they treat there animals". But I do understand the reaction, the images are awful, it seems pretty easy to serve judgment on a photo, I too want to make someone pay for the misery of which some of these animals are inflicted, it makes me sick to my core to look at wounds, broken un-treatable bones and animals without hope of better life or escape. But judgement is easy, finding a solution is where the real hard work begins.
Ps below is a picture of a brick kiln family home....take away the beds and this is how's the mule lives, form your own opinion