Taking a Look on the Bright Side
George Orwell, in Animal Farm, wrote:
Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.
This quote saddens me.
While humans lack many of the natural skills of other animals, we do have some serious advantage. Our brains, our opposable thumbs, and our ability to walk on two legs have allowed us to manipulate and modify the environment like no other species, making life safer and more secure than our ancestors ever experienced. Our capacity for symbolic thought has also allowed us to create art, literature, music, and religion, enriching the lives of all of us.
Yet those same advantages have at the same time made life vastly more insecure and unsafe, as we have taken our natural tendency towards territorial fighting and turned it into a global battle for supremacy, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people per year. At the same time, the quest for wealth and power has created more inequality than this planet has ever seen, leading millions per year to die from poverty, disease, and other preventable conditions.
Finally, our advantages have allowed us to create a system in which much of our food, shelter, clothing, medical and personal needs, and even entertainment derive from, kill, or displace other animals on this planet. Our success and happiness as a species has been carved out of the flesh of animals who were unfortunate enough to be born non-human. This has caused unimaginable misery around the globe as billions of animals lose their lives every year for human convenience and pleasure.
Yet there is, even in the face of such overwhelming suffering, hope as well. Companion animals are becoming ever more drawn into human lives, providing love and companionship but also, perhaps, filling a more complicated need for humans to connect with other species. While this only directly benefits those companion animals who are lucky enough to be born or adopted into a world in which they are valued, it may also indirectly impact other animals as well. While the studies on this issue are somewhat confusing, it may be that the love of companion animals may make many people more likely to love and care about other animals as well.
More people are contributing to animal welfare organizations than ever before, and more people have become personally involved in animal issues -- fostering animals, cutting out meat from their diet, protesting circuses, or writing letters to the editor regarding animal issues in their home towns. And in recent years, legislative efforts to change the role of animals in our lives have radically increased.
So while it's easy to get saddened, sickened, and discouraged about what's happening to animals today, sometimes it's a good thing to just snuggle with that dog, rabbit or cat on the couch next to you and think about how things may be getting better. And how your actions may be part of that.
Published by admin on 04/29/2012 17:17:36