As an animal welfare blogger, I am often dismayed to read that some who advocate for animals can be quite cruel when it comes to one certain animal- humans.
Whenever I write about product testing on animals, someone invariably comments, “Why not do that to prisoners and leave the animals alone?”
Each time I read those words, I cringe.
Why not indeed? Perhaps because of the blatant unfairness that is the criminal justice system in practically every country on this planet? After all, we frequently read about a person in the US who is released from prison after years of incarceration for a crime he or she did not commit. At the same time, those who almost toppled the world’s economy are walking around scot-free, paying practically no penance whatsoever.
But, no, my reasons for cringing have more to do with the moral argument that we are all worthy of compassion, regardless of our sins, and regardless of our species.
The truth is, we abuse animals- be it in the lab, or the race track, or the dinner table- for one reason: we want to live forever, and we want to feel young, look beautiful, and have fun while doing so.
Lab testing? Oh, but (insert name of cute blonde white child here) needs this medicine to live. Well, that is a compelling argument. But for the money that is used to experiment on animals to keep a handful of white blonde kids alive in the US and Europe, we could keep thousands of kids alive in other parts of the world who suffer and die from perfectly treatable conditions, such as dysentery, cholera, starvation, and, of course, war.
We are wiping out our world’s large animals, such as elephants, rhinoceros, and tigers, to sell their body parts to rich people to use as medications we all know don’t work. Same thing with keeping bears confined to mine their bile.
Oh, and don’t get me started on fur coats, race tracks, and throwaway pets! You can’t even pretend these practices have any sort of legitimate reason for existence.
No, we are a species of toddlers who want what they want when they want it and to hell with anyone who gets in our way of getting it.
Instead of allowing others to suffer for our comfort and longevity, I challenge us to rethink what it is to live a good life. It shouldn’t mean a few of us get to live in the lap of luxury while other living things, equally special in the eye of the Universe, suffer in order for us to do so.
Does that make me a socialist? Perhaps. But it also lets me sleep well at night to feel I am not at war with the rest of the planet.