Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tales from the Animal Rights Trenches, 1.1

Yesterday, I had a very distressing encounter at work (note to self: don't take breaks and leave work on time.)

First of all, I was getting ready to leave for the day when a couple of co-workers began a discussion about who was going to become President. No big deal, we had been discussing this before....sort of like who's going to win the Super Bowl.

Then I was foolish enough to ask another co-worker their opinion. It was fine until that co-worker decided to attack global warming as a bunch of lies. Then he said, quite emphatically, that he didn't care if the spotted owl went extinct because that showed that it couldn't adapt and compete so it SHOULD go extinct. Then he got into the issue of the worth of animals. According to him, people are better because "they're people." He said it three times in a row and then admitted that it's because PEOPLE have a spiritual core. He kept attacking me because he wanted me to admit that humans have a special "something" that makes them want to save others, like why else would you save your buddy on the battlefield if it's obviously going to endanger you. According to this gentleman, unless you've actually risked your life to save someone, you can't say a word about humanity and its motivations. You certainly can't say you read about such stuff in a BOOK!

He got all choked up and walked away with tears in his eyes. I later learned that the gentleman was a Vietnam War vet who saw a lot of death on the battlefield. This is what the argument was fundamentally about.

I hate these kinds of encounters. But it underscores what the resistance to animal welfare and species preservation is all about. It's about the individual opponent, their life experiences and their value system.

Is it that our opponents really love the human race or is it because they feel individually threatened by the views that they are here by means of evolution? That they are not "special?" That they are simply very fortunate to be at this end of the evolutionary path and that they are extremely lucky that dinosaurs were wiped out, opening the path for mammalian evolution?

People like this obviously have very deep issues about themselves, but they project it onto an argument on behalf of humanity. No, it's not about humanity, it's about you.

We as humanity are blessed to have higher intelligence so that we can look at ourselves, be critical, and improve our behaviors. We can learn from our mistakes. But if we aren't willing to have the humility to look at ourselves, our impact on the planet, and our impact on animal life, we can never fully understand the context and consequences of the choices we make so we can truly evaluate them.

Finally, the irony of this gentleman's arguments lies in his implied statement that he has no compassion for animals. Where is that special "spiritual core of humanity" that makes you reach out to a helpless being because it's right and not simply in your own interests?

You can't segregate compassion between sexes, races or species. Sorry, it hasn't worked well so far and it won't as we move forward and try to survive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post!