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Monday, March 27, 2017

Animal Rights: The Cognitive Dissonance of Arrogance

This is a time in our history in which numerous dynamic changes and possible truths have come forward. There are things now possible that we have only been able to dream of in the past, and there is knowledge abound that can help save us all. At the apex of these wondrous breakthroughs, there is another idea that should not be so revolutionary: The idea that human beings and animals share the same rights, and that all species should be treated equally. The basic tenants of what we consider our basic rights as human beings should, in turn, be given to other sentient beings. After all, we consider these rights inalienable to us simply because we are sentient beings ourselves.

Our fellow beings share many of our characteristics, yet we conveniently ignore these shared characteristics when using the flesh of animals for our meals and skins of animals for our clothing, among other heinous purposes. Our fellow mammals also breastfeed their young, feeling the same loving connection to their offspring as we do to ours.

Other animals also feel pain, which we inflict on them with no thought, but avoid religiously for ourselves. The point of this article, however, is not to enumerate the ways in which animals and human beings are similar. In fact, many know that humans are often the lesser animal to many species, as we are the cause of climate change, deforestation, etc. We human beings are animals, too, and far more destructive than almost any other species on this great, green Earth.

Another common practice which stands in opposition to animal rights is the use of animals in medical and product testing. There’s a popular saying about this: “Don’t test the animals, they don’t have the answers.” Perhaps this is somewhat silly, but the sentiment carries the truth. In fact, all drugs and products tested on animals still must undergo human trial. Using non-human animals to search for drugs for humans is a colossal waste of time and resources for many reasons. Most every drug that passes through preclinical trials, tested on animals, are deemed useless or harmful when tested on human individuals, negating all the time and effort and resources on the part of the researchers and causing needless pain and suffering to innocent creatures. In spite of all this testing, major diseases such as cancer and diabetes have remained incurable. Despite all of the animals that have endured torturous circumstances and vivisection, there is little to nothing to show for it, for those that tout its importance.

We would be less likely to fall to deadly diseases associated with high levels of cholesterol, fat, and excessive protein. We would be kinder, showing more appreciation for our fellow beings. We would have a steadier supply of clean water to drink, and would lose less topsoil to atrocious farming practices. So very much is to gain from granting animals their rights, and so very much to lose from remaining stagnant, stuck in our current, destructive ways.

We begin with the vital question: What exactly is meant by the term “animal rights”? Does it mean that a dog can run for public office, or that a cat is responsible for paying taxes? Of course not. Animals do not share the same social responsibilities as we do. We are their guardians, their wardens, charged with conserving their territories and caring for them. Animal rights simply refers to the rights we, for the most part, deny to animals and fight for ourselves.

We would consider it universally sickening and disturbing if even one human being was raised from birth to have his or her body hair harvested to create coats, their skin used to make clothing or sporting items, and their flesh cultivated in order for others to consume. How, then, do we, as a collective society, find it acceptable that an unfathomable sum of animals we often think of as ‘cute and cuddly’ are killed by the minute for these very purposes?

As keepers of the planet and investors in the welfare of other creatures who also inhabit this Earth, it is our duty to bestow the esteem and respect we owe to our fellow creatures. It is our charge to do what we would consider right by other humans and grant animals rights that protect them from harm and exploitation. With this in mind, there are acts that cannot continue, in the name of animal rights and the sanctity of life for all creatures.Human beings do not require animals in their diet in order to thrive, let alone live. As obligate omnivores, we could exist exclusively as herbivores, taking no meat and living on a plant-based diet, and live healthy lifestyles. In fact, it has been studied in numerous cases that those who do abstain from the consumption of meat have lower instances of dreaded diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The instances of these illnesses in vegan individuals are even fewer. It is also true that raising animals for food has led to such atrocities as deforestation to raise cattle, the loss of topsoil, befouling of water sources, and overall contributions to global climate change. We have the means and technology to keep the entire world healthy and fed on a plant-based diet. For the sake of animal rights, as sacred and important as human rights, the consumption of their flesh must end.

We simply do not need to harm other creatures in order to live, thrive, or even have productive lives. No being deserves to be abused for the benefit of others; this is something that civilized persons have accepted for a very long time. Why has this not been extended to animals? We have no right to take advantage of our fellow beings and exploit their reactions to pain and chemical, possibly hazardous, materials; it is their right to be protected as we are protected by law from such treatment.
It is erroneous to assume that those involved in the Animal Rights campaign, who hold the values expressed in this article dear to their hearts, care nothing for the suffering of human beings. This is a false statement, presumptuous and harmful in its very nature. Denying that humans have dominion over animals is not equivocated to denying human rights. Animal rights activists simply believe that animals should enjoy the same freedoms from threat of injury and exploitation that we do. Most individuals that champion animal rights are in favor of fundamental rights for human beings as well, because empathy knows no barriers, not sex, race, class, or species. By showing respect toward all life, the lives of human beings are not devalued. In fact, human beings stand to benefit from giving animals their fundamental rights. We would have better medical practices for research, leading to possible cures and improved treatment for diseases. We would have enough arable land to feed the world population, and help it to thrive.


©Shenita Etwaroo