In May of this year, a remarkable video was posted on YouTube that documents something everyone should really see. In an amazing example of a home video camera capturing a life-changing moment, a young Portuguese boy reminds us all of something incredibly simple, yet unquestionably important.
Mother: “Eat up your octopus gnocchi”
Luiz: “All right… This octopus isn’t real, is it? It doesn’t speak or have a head, right? Where’s its head?”
Mother: “It has no head. Those are only its little legs, chopped.”
Luiz: “Is its head in the sea?”
Mother: “It’s at the fisherman’s.”
Luiz: “Did the man chop it like this? Why?”
Mother: “So we can eat, dear, just like they chop the ox, the chicken.”
Luiz: “Chicken? Nobody eats that… They are animals.”
Mother: “But let’s eat.”
Luiz: “Only the potato and rice… Not the octopus, it’s an animal. Those are all animals. Fish is an animal, chicken is an animal, cow is an animal, pig is an animal.”
At this point in the video, little Luiz becomes very pensive, and you can actually see on his face that his mind is processing some very serious information. I don’t remember that experience in my own life, but I have heard story after story of children who make this connection and are forever changed.
Luiz: “So, when we eat animals… They die. Why?”
Mother: “So we can eat, dear.”
Luiz: “Why do they die? I don’t like that they die. I want them to keep standing and be happy.”
Mother: “All right then. We won’t eat them anymore, okay?”
Luiz: “Okay. Those animals are for us to take care of, not to eat them.
Mother: “Alright, my boy. Eat your potato and rice then.”
Luiz: “All right… Why are you crying?”
What an amazing experience to capture on camera. This little video has gone viral, generating over three million hits on YouTube, and well it should. With all the innocence of someone who is simply speaking from his heart without censorship, little Luiz Antonio might well have saved lives with his dinner-time musings.
When he realizes his mother is crying because of what he just said, Luiz remarks,
“I’m doing something beautiful?”
On the one hand, yes, he is doing something beautiful. Certainly, it is a beautiful thing for the viewer to have the opportunity to witness an individual having this experience. From the perspective of an adult, simply speaking the truth about what he’s thinking and feeling is a beautiful thing, in a world where human nature has been so distorted that it is all but unrecognizable.
On the other hand, all he is really doing is reacting naturally to the information he is being given. Luiz speaks with the kind of honesty and simplicity that can only come from a child who has not yet been programmed to numb himself to what it really means to eat animals. It doesn’t take any effort for him, no great feat of heroism or significant attempt at virtue. He is simply responding to the situation before him without stifling or suppressing his feelings.
And yes, in my eyes, that is a beautiful thing.
Note: This post draws on several different translations of the dialog.