The road to peace and the end of terrorism converges with the road to the end of our terrorizing animals. The end will be reached with a radical shift on our collective consciousness and conscience. Our children and the non-human ones whom we unjustly exploit for pleasure and profit, will no longer be victims of terrorism, systemic terrorization, crippling injuries and slaughter while being exploited and their plight ignored by the corrupted politics of profit and pleasure.
This radical, transformative shift means what Dr. Albert Schweitzer called living in “Reverence for all life.” This is indeed a challenge, but one that calls on all of us to achieve and connect deeply the plight of our own children around the world to those of all other species, plant and animal, who contribute more to the life and beauty and functional integrity of planet Earth than we.
To not make this shift, which translates into addressing the best interests and first priorities of civil society and the Earth community, and instead either ignore the tragedy of reality and our responsibilities, or focus just on our children while neglecting those of other species, will simply worsen the state of the world. It will make the future ever more bleak for the health and well-being our children’s children and those of other species whose inherent rights and intrinsic and ecological value the judicial system have yet to be fully acknowledged. Animals are treated as commodities, objects of property and commerce. Such objectivism, which dehumanizes our relationships with each other fosters the delusion of separateness (but no man is an island), and also the hubris of superiority and control. Science runs the risk here, like religion before it, of committing such hubris especially when the ends justify the means as with interrogative human torture, invasive animal experimentation and indiscriminate and cruel methods of pest and animal control. The corporate sector, with its control of state and federal legislators and long history of ecological terrorism and of terrorizing animals, has succeed in establishing laws to protect the status quo and shield the livestock and other animal industries from public scrutiny and accountability.
I have been writing the nationally syndicated newspaper column Animal Doctor for over 40 years in the U.S. to help improve the health and well-being of companion animals and our understanding and appreciation of all creatures great and small. I have come to learn from readers how deeply millions of people care for animals, be they companions or wild. Many have shared their despair, including veterinarians, animal protectionists and environmentalists and others “in the trenches”.
It troubles me deeply that the innate empathic sensitivity and ethical sensibility of our children are being corrupted by the way in which society continues to condone the cruel exploitation of animals, as in factory farms, research laboratories, by fur trade trappers, circus to rodeo entertainment industries and other arenas of animal cruelty and exploitation. Children are led to believe, by adult example, that such mistreatment is morally acceptable. But this moral and civil foundation is anthropocentric—for the greater good of humankind primarily, and with a predominance of pecuniary interests. So we make our environment carcinogenic and then make animals suffer in the hopes of finding find profitable cures rather than addressing the harmful consequences of pecuniary interests, (mammonism).
The moral injury inflicted on those who care about other animals and the environment—our shared global commons—(as well as various direct harms as per the looming global economic, climate change, ocean acidification, population and public health crises created in large part by ignorance and planetary plunder rather than humane stewardship) has yet to be addressed by the judicial system and international courts of law and trade organizations of global commerce.
A few decades ago I received complaints from listeners of a radio interview in which I said that all creatures should be given equal and fair consideration as members of Earth’s life community, and that all children who eat animals should see how they are killed, or at least how most are raised. So long as we continue to hide these truths from the next generation, denying or justifying the emotional slavery of many animals kept as “pets” and “companions” while others are exterminated as pests and predators, killed for sport and for their fur and experimented upon to find cures for diseases we largely bring upon ourselves, we will continue to suffer the consequences of most communities, religions, nations and justice systems marginalizing environmental concerns and denying the rights and interests of indigenous species and peoples.
We need better laws and effective enforcement and justice for all beings. While we strive to end the child sex trade, organ trafficking, female genital mutilation and disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples (genocide) the end of other forms of terrorizing and harming the children of other species, including whaling, trophy hunting, fur trapping, bull fighting, and dog fights, along with puppy breeding mills, factory farms, commercial laboratory animal testing, wildlife poaching, trafficking, trade and habitat destruction (ecocide) must also be addressed nationally and internationally. Progress on one front (the human) will not succeed without progress on the other front— animals and the environment— because respect for life is a boundless ethic. It must be absolute, or it is not at all. Our indebtedness to all life on Earth that helps sustain our own calls for trans-species egalitarianism and accepting the moral duty of responsible care for the health and well-being of that Earth community of which our own is an interdependent part.
Two opposing cultures do not make a society. Democracy turns into hypocrisy—what D.H. Lawrence called “the equality of dirt”—when it purports to support the conflicting interests of takers and transformers, healers and leavers; those who exploit and those who protect; the cultures of commerce and consumerism and of service and frugality. The latter was the primary, “greater good” ethos of social democratic philosophy and intent, embracing neither unbridled capitalism and imperialism nor unconditional altruism. This dichotomy of conflicting cultures will never be resolved until both cultures give equal and fair consideration to the rights of all indigenous species and the global commons, and abandon their respective self-limiting perspectives of materialism and anthropocentrism in the name of ecological and trans-species democracy to embrace the best interests all species and communities, human and non-human. This includes pathogens and parasites, a better understanding of whom would help temper our pathogenic, parasitic relationship with the Earth and all who dwell therein—and find the ultimate cure for most cancers!
For further reading on this subject, see the author’s book Animals & Nature First (2014) CreateSpace publ., Amazon.com