Wednesday, 6 November 2013

There is no excuse for cruelty

Why the Tin Man has a heart (and you should too)

The Tin Woodman (as he is always referred to in the books) has always practiced ahimsa (the Sanskrit word for non violence) long before he had his heart. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz there is a scene where they are all walking down the yellow brick road on their quest to ask the great and powerful Oz for the gift they believe they lack--The Scarecrow for brains (despite that he shows great ingenuity in the book), the Tin Woodman for a heart (despite the fact that he is so gentle and loving), the Cowardly Lion for courage (despite being quite brave) and Dorothy who shows all the qualities mentioned above (cleverness, kindness, bravery) despite only being seven years old who only wants to get back home to Kansas.

Once, indeed, the Tin Woodman stepped upon a beetle that was crawling along the road and killed the poor little thing. This made the Tin Woodman very unhappy, for he was always careful not to hurt any living creature; and as he walked along he wept several tears of sorrow and regret. These tears ran slowly down his face and over the hinges of his jaw and there they rusted.

When Dorothy asks him a question, he cannot speak and must mime for them to get to get the oil can. 


“This will serve me a lesson,” said he, “to look where I step. For if I should kill another bug or beetle I should surely cry again and crying rusts my jaw so that I cannot speak.” Therefore he walked very carefully, with his eyes on the road and when he saw a tiny ant toiling by he would stopover, so as not to harm it. The Tin Woodman knew very well he had no heart, and therefore he took great care never to be cruel or unkind to anything.

The band of travellers who have now added Dorothy--yes that Dorothy--to their numbers, travel west towards the Winkie country.  So best beloved, can you recall what items were on the list that Ojo need to procure for the antidote to petrifaction?

Whilst talking to the Tin Woodman (who was now Emperor of the Winkies)  Ojo spies a drop of oil at his knee and quickly catches it in a small bottle.  They discuss the fact that he has found the three hairs from the Woozy’s tail (still in the Woozy as no one could pull them out), a six leaved clover (which he spent time in prison for), a gill of water from a dark well and the seemingly impossible ingredient found only moments before--a drop of oil from a live man’s body.  But one item remains.

The left wing of a yellow butterfly,” said Ojo. “In this yellow country and with your kind assistance, that aught to be very easy to find.”

 The Tin Woodman stared at him in amazement.

"Surely you are joking!” he cried.

 “No,” replied Ojo, much surprised; I am in earnest.”

 “But do you think for a moment I would permit you, or anyone else, to pull the left wing from a yellow butterfly?” demanded the Tin Woodman sternly.

 “Why not sir?”

 Why not? You ask me why not? It would be cruel--one of the most cruel and heartless deed I ever heard of,” asserted the Tin Woodman. “The butterflies are among the prettiest of all created things, and they are sensitive to pain. To tear a wing from one would cause it exquisite torture and it would soon doe in great agony. I would not permit such a wicked deed under any circumstances.”

Ojo was astounded to hear this. Dorothy, too, looked grave and disconcerted, but she knew that the Tin Woodman was right. The Scarecrow nodded his head in approval of his friend’s speech, so it was evident that he agreed with the Emperor’s decision.

Scraps is the only one on Ojo’s side stating “I want to help Ojo, who is my friend, to rescue his uncle whom he loves and I‘d kill a dozen useless butterflies to enable him to do that,” but as the Tin Woodman points out she cannot help her heartless remark because she was created without a heart.

“The yellow country of the Winkies,” said Ojo sadly, “is the only place in Oz where a yellow butterfly can be found.”

 “I’m glad of that said the Tin Woodman. “As I rule the Winkie Country I can protect my butterflies.”

 “Unless I get the wing--just one left wing--” said Ojo miserably, “I can’t save Unc Nunkie.”

“Then he must remain a marble statue forever,” declared the Tin Emperor firmly.

They decide to go back to the Emerald City and seek the advice of Ozma. She was informed of the situation whereby the Tin Woodman had positively refused to sacrifice the yellow butterfly to the magic potion.

He is quite right,” said Ozma, who didn’t  seem a bit surprised. “Had Ojo told me that one of the things he sought was the wing of a yellow butterfly I would have informed him, before he started out, that could never secure it. Then you would have been saved the troubles and annoyances of your long journey.”

Ozma informs the group that Glinda the Good has known all along what Dr Pipt was up to and what happened to Unc Nunkie and Margolotte and about Ojo’s quest. She also knew that Ojo would fail so she sent the Wizard and told him what to do. Dr Pipt’s four kettles and spell book have been destroyed. His body was straightened out so that he would no longer be crooked in any sense of the word.  Unc Nunkie and Margolotte are brought back to life and Ojo the Unlucky is re-christened Ojo the Lucky.

Aww…gee that’s swell.

This was a huge and powerful lesson for me growing up and I’m sure is one of the reasons I try to practice ahimsa today. I always say that if you love animals the best way to help them is to not eat them. But there are other ways that animals are exploited for our gain. 

Many people are shocked at the experimentation still being done (considerably worse in the U.S. as the EU has tighter laws) on animals for cosmetics and household products. Proctor and Gamble are one of the worst offenders for this and it is well worth considering boycotting them for this reason. If you do decide to boycott, make sure you tell them why.

If you are interested in cruelty free cosmetics and household products then in the U.K. look for the Leaping Bunny logo. This means it was certified cruelty free by the BUAV (British Union Against Vivisection) but if you are in the U.S. check out this list of cruelty free companies. 

But what about medical testing? Surely we *still* need to test on animals here? Well organisations like the Dr Hadwen Trust (based right in our town!) think differently. They point out that animal experiments  predict  correctly how a medicine will react on humans between 5-25% of the time. That’s far worse than tossing a coin!

What about birth defects? Don’t we need to test drugs on animals to see if they cause birth defects? How many of these do you recognise?






Nitrous oxide




These are just a sampling of medications that are safe for humans but cause birth defects in animals.

If we don’t use animals, what will we use?

The Dr Hadwen Trust says, “This statement falsely assumes that animal experiments have been responsible for medical advances in the past. However, the real benchmarks of medical progress have relied on non-animal methodologies as will future developments.” Such as:

In vitro (test tube) research

Epidemiology (population research)

Post mortem studies

Genetic research

Clinical studies

Human tissue

Computer modelling

Advances in technology (MRI and PET scanners)

Human stem cells--which have already successfully been used to treat children with leukaemia.

Just to name a few.

So we don’t need to needlessly torture animals to save humans. There are alternatives. For more information visit 

So be like the Tin Woodman.

Use your heart.

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