I was told a story last night about John Byrne, a homeless man living on the streets of Dublin with his Jack Russell Terrier and his rabbit, Barney. An 18 year old man grabbed Barney from John’s arms and threw him off O’Connell Bridge into the River Liffey. John jumped into the river to rescue Barney, risking his own life. Barney had died in John’s arms but taking shelter under the bridge, John gave Barney the kiss of life, reviving Barney. Thankfully both John and Barney are fine. The man who threw Barney in the river received 4 months detention after pleading guilty to animal cruelty and torture. John’s dog and rabbit Barney are his family. This is exactly the same as me snatching your child out of your arms and throwing them into a river. The story started me thinking more broadly about our relationship with animals. Put simply, it is fundamentally unhealthy. Much is done to obscure and in many cases downright hide the true nature of our relationship with animals.
There is a direct connection between improving how we treat animals (animal welfare and animal rights) and the food industry and animal testing. In a much more sinister sense this all comes down to money and the darker side of human nature. We really ought to be changing the law so that it is an absolute legal requirement to neuter cats and dogs by a certain age, in order to prevent the the already out of control spread of animals breeding. Animal charities are at crisis point and struggling to cope with the influx of cats and dogs in particular. We must reach a point where morally we have more integrity. Animal cruelty of all kinds must be ruthlessly pursued and tackled. It may be shocking for some to get their head around, but humans are really not at the top of the tree in evolution terms. We must co-exist peacefully and in a non-exploitative manner. The interconnectivity of all things is at risk and on balance we are losing the argument. The reality is that if we actually tackle animal welfare and abuse then we have to logically extend that to dismantling all animal testing, which is completely unnecessary despite what lies we are continually sold (that is a whole argument in itself and I don’t want to cover that in this entry), however it is important within the context of this discussion. I caught a story on the news yesterday of a farmer who left one thousand sheep and cows to starve to death on his farm. His punishment in court? A lifetime ban on keeping animals! We need to get to a point where animal torturers like that are sent to prison. Effectively it’s animal genocide but it’s not recognised in law. This is shameful. Animals are still seen by humanity as acceptable collateral/fodder. Why do we apparently feign anger at animal abusers, but simultaneously eat more meat than ever before?
Now we come to a integral point. We need to recognise, understand and accept that all animals have a sentient consciousness. This includes, mammals and birds. The truth is this: the body of scientific evidence is increasingly showing us that animals are conscious in the same way that we are. This is something we can no longer ignore. As a society we seem to becoming more intolerant of animals. People don’t see any real problems with abuse or mistreatment towards animals. Behind this is the knowledge that we can’t even treat each other respectfully, so treating animals properly is impossible until we reach this point. The pursuit of nihilistic materialism is arguably producing a new generation of sociopaths. There is a growing discussion around a link between childhood animal abuse and growing up to be a sociopathic adult. There is a statement in Charles Darwin’s diaries where he says, “I beat a puppy when I was a child just for the power of it.” Now think on that for a moment.
I reached a point I became vegetarian because eating animals is just not coherent with my world view. I’m not going to beat people about the head regarding vegetarianism, however this week’s discovery of horsemeat in beef burgers really underlines all of this. I saw a man on TV saying that he was going to stop buying beef burgers from now on, but surely the point is that you become vegetarian and make that logical leap? However I wish him well with his mass produced chicken nuggets…