This is the second part of a this article. You can read the first post here.
For far too long in our history, there has been a disconnect between human rights and animal rights and that disconnect has caused discord between people who are “for” human rights (but not necessarily for animal rights) and people who are “for” animal rights.
There should be no conflict between these sets of rights. In fact, there should be amicable cooperation between human rights adherents and animal rights adherents. Why? Because both groups want to do the right thing—they want to eliminate wrongs.
We learned as children that “might does not make right.” We should realize that humans do not have the right to treat animals, who are sentient like us, in any way other than that by which we ourselves want to be treated. We need to apply the Golden Rule, a rule of life that seems to have universal acceptance by people around the entire world.
Sadly, religious adherents don’t necessarily follow the Golden Rule. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, and appropriate, given the fact that the Golden Rule is mentioned in the Bible (in Matthew 7:12), if all Christians would apply this rule to animals in the same way that they apply it to people?
Instead, as seen throughout human history, even religious people have leaned on the presumption that humankind has dominion over the animals—that we can control them, and by extension, treat them however we choose, no matter how much we besmirch the Golden Rule in so doing.
A fine book on this subject, The Dominion of Love, has been written by Norm Phelps. On the cover of the book appears a quote by The Rev. Andrew Linzey: “After decades of neglect, churches are beginning to take the issue of justice to animals seriously. Many books have influenced this change, and The Dominion of Love is an insightful, judicious, and inspiring contribution to this growing library.”
To quote Mr. Phelps directly: “The ‘dominion’ or ‘stewardship’ that the Bible tells us God has given us over the other living beings in the world is simply an opportunity to love God concretely by protecting and nurturing God’s creation.”
Animal rights advocates must work to share our message with human rights advocates, people of various faiths, and anyone who attempts to practice the Golden Rule. In so doing, we can dramatically grow the number of people who are against “animal wrongs” and thereby for animal rights.
We have to be sure that people know that there are billions upon billions of individual animals who are enslaved and subjugated by humankind and made to endure a living hell for their entire lives. We “humane humans” can instead apply the Golden Rule to all animals great and small in our interactions with them and refuse to provide support to cruelty through our consumer purchases.
Peter Singer has suggested that we expand our moral horizons, “so that practices that were previously regarded as natural and inevitable are now seen as intolerable.”
Among the people who have expanded their moral horizons most are those who have become vegetarians—and better yet, vegans—for ethical reasons. These humane humans live by the Golden Rule every day. It is easier now than ever before in history to evolve in this way, especially given the tremendous array of vegetarian and vegan food choices that are tasty and healthy alternatives to the horrific cruelty and suffering that underlies the production of meat and other animal-derived products.
Let’s join together with all our fellow men, women, and children in moving ever closer to the Golden Rule-based goal of becoming “humane-itarians.” In so doing, we will evolve toward becoming a truly more humane society.
This article was written by Craig Cline of Salem, Oregon. Cline is an animal issues advocate who is continuing to evolve toward becoming a “humane-itarian” and helping to right “animal wrongs” as part of that evolution.