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We share this world with many living creatures. Each one is unique and wonderful in its own way. People often think of themselves as 'animal lovers'.
Our treatment of animals says a lot about humanity. How we behave towards other living creatures tells us what sort of beings we are.
We can use words to praise the achievements of mankind but how we act says far more than words. If we do not respect and care for other creatures, what does that say about us?
Animals are treated as if they had no free will or personality. They are the source of entertainment in such sports as show jumping or dog racing. Scientists use animals for product testing and vivisection.
Other animals are locked in cages in zoos or in people's houses. Birds that yearn to fly are confined in spaces too small to stretch their wings, let alone fly. Fishes are forced to swim in circles.
Circuses use animals in a cruel spectacle of 'entertainment'. Factory farming means a life of slavery, pain, misery, abuse and death. People use weaponry to hunt animals for 'sport'.
Dog breeders amputate tails; mutilating the animal in order to satisfy the aesthetic requirement of the pedigree. Children treat animals like toys.
Animals are frequently abused, neglected or killed by humans.
An octopus becomes bored if left without stimulation. A parrot is the same, and so is a dog or a dolphin.
By human standards, the mental age of these animals is considered to be the equivalent of a young human child. Would we treat our young abusively?
Would we eat them or use them for transport or entertainment? How many other creatures are widely-known to possess a degree of intelligence recognised and acknowledged by human standards?
High cultures are actually just subtle ways
of concealing reality, so that pretentious people can pretend that they are
above the level of the lower classes, whether animal or human.
By now we are all too good to go crudely banging a bull on the head with a mallet or sticking a knife through it and tearing it apart and eating it.
All that is done for us way off in the stockyard, and the meat comes to us in the butcher shop as a completely neutral-looking thing called a steak.
But steak is something wrapped-up, packaged. Almost nobody picks up a steak and thinks "Poor cow." A plastic-wrapped steak doesn't even look like a cow, and it doesn't remind you of one in any way - that's culture.
For many people, animals are a food source. They are reared to be killed, processed and eaten. Abattoirs slaughter vast numbers of living creatures every day.
By calling an animal 'meat' it offers a way of distancing people from the life they are consuming without thought or conscience.
The very word 'animal' serves to differentiate between human and food source.
At least have some respect
If you are comfortable eating animals, at least respect what you are eating. A creature died so that you can live. At the very least, the animal deserves your gratitude, and your respect.
Humans destroy other humans in the name of ideas, opinions, beliefs and politics. Why? Are we really that savage? History says yes. In the name of 'progress', so many cultures have been eradicated.
Their diversity and uniqueness gone. The lessons they may have taught, their stories and insights, their history... gone.
People argue that animals do not feel pain, emotion or suffering, that they exist to be eaten. This seems like the worst kind of blindness.
Whilst no animal speaks in the way that people do, many respond to emotion and all react to pain. Humans are simply intolerant of life that is not like our own.
Other people argue that there exists a 'natural hierarchy' - that humans are at the top and animals beneath us. Similar arguments were once used to justify slavery and concentration camps.
What we have done to other humans is nothing compared to the animal world. Mankind has wiped out thousands of species of animal. These creatures are gone forever.
Humans never learn. When every animal is dead, it will be far too late for regret.
Teach children that animals have feelings and should
be treated with love and kindness.
(Animal Sanctuary Fund)
How many of us can claim to treat animals with respect? Do we allow them the dignity and quality of life we take for granted?
Reverence for all life
People enjoy watching small animals with their mothers. They feel compassion and empathy for the other creatures. Then they go home and eat meat without considering what it is we are eating.
If we truly cared for animals, we might respect them a little more. We could protect and preserve life, rather than treat everything as a product.
We might plan our society and culture with compassion in mind.
Compassion not contempt
If we wanted to demonstrate our harmony with nature we might start with consideration. Animals have the right to live in freedom. They do not need to be looked after by humans.
If we truly cared for their wellbeing we would improve our relationship with them. We might deliberately protect animals from humans, shaping our world around these wonderful creatures.
Perhaps from that foundation, we might even learn to respect other people too...
By human standards, animals are like young children. When you watch them play, you see familiar behavioural traits. They are guileless, innocent and natural.
Rather than simply eating animals, we should be protecting them. The idea of eating children is abhorrent, yet animals are killed and eaten without a care.
Eating animals is fine, but these creatures also deserve respect and dignity. Look closely. Do you look with your feelings or with your conditioning and greed?
Animals do not need to be cute and furry to deserve respect. Being alive is enough.
Scientific studies have demonstrated that when you measure animal intelligence using human criteria, they have a comparative mental age to a young child.
Sea otters actually use tools in their daily lives. We are not the only intelligent life on this planet.
Identifying human-like characteristics in certain animals is a step in the right direction, but we should not imagine that animals are human or should be treated as human.
They are unique creatures, with their own way of being. We should respect that.
Krishnamurti and many other religious figures throughout history have advocated love as the solution to the ongoing destruction of the world.
The word 'love' is commonly used in our culture, but what does it mean? Loving somebody who you care about is easy. You have a relationship with them that you know to be real and tangible.
To understand love, you must realise that you are also in relationship with everything else; the rock, the sand, the sea, the leaf, the mouse, the insect...
When you feel compassion for somebody or something that has no direct bearing on your own life and can offer you no profit or advantage, your heart is beginning to open.
Until humanity sets aside pettiness, conflict and greed - there is no hope for animals.
We hardly ever listen to the sound of a dog’s bark,
or to the cry of a child or the laughter of a man as he passes by.
We separate ourselves from everything,
and then from this isolation look and listen to all things.
It is this separation that is so destructive,
for in it lies all conflict and confusion.
Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 17 September 2019