The Delta Snake Review

The Delta Snake Review

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Do animal lovers really like animals more than people? Some thoughts on the subject...

The fact is there are some animal lovers who like nature's citizens more than human beings, or at least some human beings.

I know this for a fact because I tend to be one of latter group. 

However, like most nature or animal loving philosophies, it's often a mixture of fact and fiction.

There is this stereotype that nature is full of animal species who are benevolent, and possess souls more pure than humans.

Any sane human being would recognize that this is not necessarily true. Even the dolphins, who enjoy great PR as gentle, intelligent lifeforms are not vegans and not only eat fish, but don't bother to give their prey a humane death before eating them like we do when we club cows to death (satirical point).

And if you jump into a swarm of hungry sharks in the water, your odds of survival are better if you walk into the Kill zone of a firefight in Afghanistan.

The thing to keep in mind is that the idea that an animal's motive for doing anything is pure or evil is purely a man-made construction.

Animals are part of a very complex ecosystem, and their role is clearly defined, and part of it is that it's a food chain. Most of the activity on that food chain isn't a pretty sight (to humans).

I know you've all heard about the Bambi syndrome, all the philosophical statements about judging man by how they treat animals, and how animals are treated as pets in some countries and pests in others.

It's all true of course, and it's a subject full of gray zones.

Let's take a look at the idea that some people like animals more than people.

That's probably true, though the psychology of it has become a stereotype, that those particular animal lovers are people who can't relate to human beings or don't like them 

That's true on one level, but the number of animal lovers who don't like human beings is dwarfed by the number of people (who aren't necessarily animal lovers) who could care less about other  human beings.

A small sampling of human haters would include heads of corporations that put out products they know are harmful, defective but cheaper to pay out lawsuits then to do a recall, people on Wall Street who don't mind ripping off the country and ruining the future of millions, countries engaged in tribal or genocidal warfare that include an incredible amount of atrocities, and all the way down the scale to people who cut in line while others have stood there for hours.

Most of the above activities actually enjoy large groups of admirers and toadies who worship wealth and power, or some who just think it's very bad for a moment, then go back to watching the football game or whatever. Some of the more involved ones might buy a T-shirt or something to help the cause.

I think one of the reasons that people love animals and nature, and at times see it as better than human behavior goes back to the old concept that animals are actually innocents.

That is to say, what they're doing is not "evil,"which is a tag humans have placed on them, but that they are simply part of the process of nature which simply "is,"
and isn't some sort of force that humans can control or manipulate, or make judgments about.

An animal doesn't judge you, or go about behaving in a judgmental manner about you (unless you give it a reason to). Being in a safe environment like that is probably a relief from the kind of life humans have created for each other.

Even in the case of dogfighting, those fighting dogs are shaped by the cruel actions of humans. The battles that are fought, and the dog's attack behavior is simply an extension of the human trainer's moral compass.

People are guilty of projecting personalities on animals. Chimps aren't as nice as they are in the movies, neither are deer, and wolves and hyenas are much better animals than the reputations suggest.

Even plants and trees are life forms that are more active than even some vegans would give them credit for. If you read a book about the rain forests, it's obvious that even plants and trees react to each other and compete for access to sunlight, etc, and have passive and active defenses against predators.

That doesn't make animals and plants sentient the same way humans are. We do have intellects and capabilities that make us capable of much more than even the most intelligent animal.

We're also are intelligent enough to understand the concept of choice, which is really about how we handle power.

The original Quakers didn't view animal life as trivial. Animals were considered life, and had the "spark of God" in them. 

That's a good way to describe animal life.

How we treat animals can be a moral barometer. It's clear that animals can feel pain and fear, and other than those humans who do it for recreational purposes, it's considered a sign of cruelty to inflict pain.

That's a judgment that humans have made. The idea that it's an immoral act isn't really about thinking that animals are better than humans, or the same, it's about understanding our power and trying to be on a higher ethical plane.

Once again it's choice. There are certain acts that society has decided should not be a matter of choice, which is why we have laws.

That's why there's laws against cruelty to animals. But the fact is we are cruel to animals, particularly in the food industry, and most of us as consumers are complicit in that. 

The thing is, whether vegans can agree with it or not, we do need some animals for food. But animal-rights people have a good point in insisting that it be done humanely. 

The concept isn't that we do so to be really nice people, it's to show a simple respect for the life that we take for survival.

I think most of us get our concepts about animal life from pets. For example, even in the worst scenario with the breakdown of society, I simply can't imagine eating my pet dog, Ivy.

Also my dog has shown me enough behavior in the last few years to convince me that her loyalty is not just simply about her survival. 

There are cynics that say that an animal will be nice to you only because you're their source of food.

That's sort of true, but that isn't anything that humans don't do either. No sane person is going to walk into his boss's office and act like a jerk.

People kiss ass all the time, and for things that aren't necessary for pure survival.

If my dog is being cute and affectionate because she wants food, she's not doing anything different than a lot of human beings do to get what they want.

As far as the subject of liking animals more than humans, that's a gray zone for me. I don't think I would prefer the company of a white shark to a human, or even think it has a greater right to life.

But I do know I prefer the company of my dog more than a few human beings that I can think of. I don't think it's a barometer of my moral level, I think it's more a matter of social preference.

But a debate over whether animals or humans are superior to each other, or are better than each other in a moral sense, is really just a parlor game.

The reason is that the question already has been answered. The universe operates by it's own rules, we may think we're superior to animals, but in reality we're just part of nature's ecosystem, and more than that, at it's mercy.

Oh, and as far as the idea of some people liking animals more than humans, so what? Some people like money more than humans.

As far as respect for animals being a moral, ethical, or a human retention or ego trip, that's a question that'll be answered soon enough by nature.

Until then, i've got enough problems convincing my own dog that I'm the superior species.