Friday, August 8, 2014
Can we please put a nail in the coffin of mindless rhetoric comparing animals to humans who do reprehensible things and exhibit bad behavior? Enough already with overused and vacuous expressions like "he's worse than an animal" or "they acted like a bunch of animals."
First of all, humans are animals, too, although we seem to conveniently forget this when it is in our favor to do so. Second, it's quite hypocritical to compare the deeds of people to nonhuman animals only when those deeds are flagrant. Third, and above all, the actions of human animals are—by far—worse than anything nonhuman animals have done or could ever do.
Have animals created tools of death and destruction and used them against other animals? Have animals waged wars to annihilate other animals who think differently? Are animals cruel to other animals for the sake of being cruel or because the color of their skin, fur or feathers is different than their own? Do animals destroy the environment or abolish other species?
Animals are not sadistic, self-conscious, greedy, egotistical, hypocritical or shallow. Animals may not be able to do all the things humans can do, but they are capable of doing extraordinary things that we can only dream of. For example, we can't soar above the clouds or swim the depths of the oceans without the benefit of some serious technology. Yes, some animals kill for food; they're called carnivores, and they only eat raw meat. Despite common misconceptions, humans are not carnivores and the physical traits differentiating humans from true carnivores are numerous. For one thing, we can't eat raw flesh. We may be able to digest cooked meat, but we don't do it well, and doing so compromises our health. Those animals who are natural carnivores only take what they need. As Laura Moretti eloquently states in her essay, I Like Animals, "A pride of lions doesn't get together and decide how to exterminate zebras—their very source of nourishment. I don't think it's because they don't know how," she says. "I think it's because it's counter-productive."
Animals don't create torturous events and activities that exploit other animals for gain under the pretense of sport or entertainment. They don't imprison other animals, display them in cages and tanks, and force them to perform for their own amusement. They don't restrain animals and then release them, only to kill them. They don't chase other animals down to ride them, torment them, or spear them for a crowd's applause.
It is animals—not humans—who are the most victimized beings on earth. Some 60 billion land animals and one trillion sea animals are bred and slaughtered each year, just for food. The animal kingdom doesn't produce tyrants like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot (Thank God for that!) and yet the number of animals we murder annually is more than eight times the current human population of 7 billion, demonstrating that we—not animals—are the ones to fear. We are the sadistic oppressors who operate as a mob of tyrants, reaffirming what Stalin purportedly once said: one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic.
It is animals—not humans—who are continually exploited for entertainment, science, clothing, food, and every kind of atrocious use our diabolical minds can conceive of. As both individuals and a group, we humans do to other species things that they would never do to us or other animals and yet, we continue to look the other way, ignoring our complicities in their pain and suffering, while managing to compare our most dreadful acts to them. There's absolutely no comparison.
"Animals—not humans—are the best this planet has too offer," Ms. Moretti says at the end of her essay. I couldn't agree more! Animals offer us a chance to see ourselves for who we really are and to strive to be better. Until we recognize this golden opportunity, we will continue to make excuses for our egregious conduct, and we will continue to blame others for our failings as human beings.
Image from Bjork video for Human Behavior
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