Thursday, December 9, 2010

Animal and Human Rights

Can't we all live in harmony?

One question that is asked repeatedly is, "do non-human animals have rights?"  Some believe that animals have inherent rights to be free of human interference in any manner whatsoever, meaning that animals should not be used in research, for human consumption or use, or kept as pets.  On the other side of the fence, some believe that animals were meant for use by humans.  I've heard it argued that God gave animals to humans for their use according to the Bible, so there is nothing wrong with using them for whatever we humans may think we need them for.   

What I ask is this:  Is the suffering of one of God's creatures for the betterment of another of God's creatures right?  Are we humans so egotistical to think that we are somehow "better" or "above" other animals and therefore can treat and use other animals any way we choose, simply because we CAN?  Are we somehow better because we have more cerebral cortex?  Because we are on the top of the food chain?  Ok, I agree that we are on the top of the food chain, and the reason is that we can think, reason, analyze, and be logical.  However, because we are on the top of the food chain, and because we can think, reason, analyze, and be logical, don't we have a duty to our fellow animal brothers and sisters?  Does that not make us responsible for their ultimate survival and care?  

Humans are taking over the world, or perhaps it is fair to say that we have taken over the earth.  We have made lakes where there were none, re-routed rivers that were in our way, we have chopped down forests and built roadways, we have industrialized and polluted the air and water that all of earth's creatures need for survival.  We have pushed animals out of their homes so that we can have our own homes, and then we kill the animals because they live too close.  Was it not their home first?  What gives us the right to do these things?  

Recently I had a petition up on my Facebook page to encourage others to get on the movement to help save wolves and keep them on the Endangered Species list in accordance with the Endangered Species Act.  I received a comment on my post from an acquaintance that stated that she disagreed because she had a "wolf problem" in her area and wolves stalked her young granddaughter.  She wanted the wolves removed.  Who has more rights in this situation, the wolves that had lived there for decades, or the people who moved into the area and now fear them?   And because of this fear, is it right to remove them from the protection of the Endangered Species Act so that they can all be removed from their homelands and/or killed?  

Is the fear of a human, or humans, worth the loss of a species of God's creatures?  How many other animals are now extinct because of man's fear of them?  How many other of God's creatures, including humans, have been ritualistically killed for sport, from war, from human fear or hate?  Why can't we humans learn to live and let live?  I suppose I may never understand that way of thinking.  Yes, I do care about the child who was stalked; I have great compassion for mankind in general, but I also have compassion for the displaced animals.  Who has more rights?  I believe we all have equal rights to survive, after all, we were all put here on this Earth to live with each other, and I think we, as caretakers, can find a better solution than to kill or remove the wolves in this situation. 

It is my belief that all of God's creatures have rights and we humans have brains, logic, and the reasoning skills that it takes to make the earth "work" for the betterment of all of God's creatures, from the tiniest amoeba to the largest primate, from the core of the earth to the ends of our atmosphere.  I do not and can not believe that we are here to use animals as we wish or think we need to, nor are they here to be sacrificed for human "betterment."    It is my firm belief that humans have the ability to survive and progress in a "humane" way and in harmony with all living beings, and in some ways we are working towards that with legislation slowly moving in that direction worldwide, but I think that we can do better, quicker. My heart cries when I think about how us humans are slowly killing not only other animals and living things, but ourselves as well.  

Please note that the opinions in my post are those of myself and not necessarily the view of the Crafting for Animals Artfire Guild as a whole.  Thank you for reading, I look forward to your comments.

Owner, TS Beading


El at Tantalizing Stitches said...

Great article. I definitely agree that one cannot place one living being over another, at least in terms of species. As for choosing between a specific being and another, its so hard to make a judgment call. I personally eat meat but I refuse to let it go to waste.

I also think animals were meant for human contact just as animals were meant to interact with other animals. However, to what extent of human interaction, I just cannot say. I love my pets and they love me but what about those innocent animals in labs being tested on? I understand some are necessary but I also know that many animals are being tested on unnecessarily.

JLynnPro said...

Excellent post! I've shared it on Facebook (my personal account.)

I believe that we were ALL put here for a reason--human, animal, plant, mineral--and that we were brought into one another's lives for a reason. What reason? Only Creator knows that.

The way I feel about domestic animals is this: For whatever reason, we chose to domesticate animals thousands of years ago. That relationshiop is now hardwired into many species--not just dogs and cats. Because of this dynamic, I feel we humans have a resonponsibility to the animals with whom we live. As a result of their domestication, a lot of animals now do not have the skills (though they could probably be relearned) to live in the wild. This makes us responsible for their welfare.

On the subject of animals as food, I feel that we got really badly off track when factory farms came into existence and when agriculture became an industry. It's a very unhealthy situation, and I feel it is affecting the safety of our food (not just a physical thing--I think spiritually it is a very bankrupt and toxic process.) By turning animals on these farms into "tools for food," we (humans) have lost our connection to food. I really feel this is a big part of why some diseases are becoming more rampant. I would go as far as to say this extends to plant-based food, too: Factory farming/industrial farming: BAD.

As for myself, I am a vegan. I DO grow some of my own food, but we still have to grocery shop. We budget so that we can concentrate on organic and--as much as possible--local foods. We shop exclusively at a market that is owned by a local business. This market makes a very strong effort to bring in local produce and other products when they are available. I'd be willing to bet they even do that with the small amount of meat they sell. I'm happy to support this business.

I really feel that domestic, non-livestock animals should become a protected class, like children. I feel very strongly about this, because of what I said above: We domesticated them, so we now have a duty. Animals are not tools.

Thank you for this excellent post!

Veganosaurus said...

Thank you for writing this! I agree a 100%!!
Like Jen here, I too am vegan and I believe that compassion and respect for all beings begins at home. Our forks are the most powerful tool in making a difference.