We will never find peace within ourselves until we stop treating other animals so appallingly, writes End Animal Slaughter contributor, Paul Stevenson. (Featured art by Lynda Bell (artbylyndabell.com).

 

Although the nature/nurture debate has raged for decades, recent studies have shown convincing evidence that humans are innately moral: we are born with the capacity to care about others.  In fact as far back as 1871 Darwin countered theorists who argued that humans are naturally selfish, identifying components of a ‘moral sense’ throughout the tree of life.  As a product of evolution, we would expect that moral behaviour is within other animals as well, not just humans, and so it appears to be the case.  Primatologists like Frans de Waal, Jill Pruetz, and Christophe Boehm have shown that our closest kin in the animal kingdom, from chimps to bonobos, possess within themselves the building blocks of morality and moral goodness, treating treat each other with empathy, compassion, and self-sacrifice. And it by no means only found in primates, as Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce show in their book ‘Wild Justice.’

As humans, this moral sense culminates in us, and our caring and morality extends beyond people to include other animals, plants and the wider environment.   When we go against our fundamental nature by ignoring our humanity and unnecessarily harming others, we consequently feel bad inside, and cannot experience peace of mind. As we can never know real happiness or contentment when we are not at peace within ourselves, it is the greatest of follies to harm others when there is no need to do so.

The less we care about others the lower our humanity, and the lower the quality of our own lives. The criminal destroys himself for this reason, because the more he takes from others the more he steals from himself, by robbing himself of his own humanity and self-respect. He may have lots of material things – quantity – in his life in the form of money and possessions, but he lacks all quality. That is because our quality of life is almost entirely an inner thing, non-material, the product of our mind, and largely to do with our opinion of ourselves. It depends on our self-esteem and integrity, which in turn is related to how much we care about others.

Killing and eating other creatures not only destroys their entire existence for something as trivial as our food habits, it also subjects them to unspeakable suffering and indescribable horrors.

Killing and eating other creatures not only destroys their entire existence for something as trivial as our food habits, it also subjects them to unspeakable suffering and indescribable horrors.

But unnecessarily causing other animals to suffer and die for our palate also has a direct effect on us.   It is self-sabotage, because such actions are contrary to our fundamental caring nature, and rob us of our humanity as well as all hope of achieving the contentment we crave.  So if we want to be kind to ourselves we must first treat others, including other animals, with kindness and respect.   The natural consequence of this is that we must stop supporting all forms of animal agriculture, as well as fishing.

Our treatment of animals that we raise for food is horrendous.   We treat them as if they were nothing.  They are sensitive, intelligent cousins of ours, but we regard them as no better than lumps of rock, sacks of coal, logs of wood, good only for cutting up, cooking up, and eating up.  For the dead-hearted people involved, these sentient beings represent nothing more than money.

Yet as intelligent creatures with the brains to examine our actions, to self-inspect, and evaluate our behaviour, change is always possible.  Because our nature is fundamentally good, we know in our heart when we see how animals are raised for food, that we are committing terrible crimes that cannot be justified on any grounds.  We can never rest with a clear conscience while we abuse others so terribly.

Because our nature is fundamentally good, we know in our heart when we see how animals are raised for food, that we are committing terrible crimes that cannot be justified on any grounds. 

These days it is easy to adopt a vegan diet, that is just as delicious as any other, and is healthier both for us and the planet.  Covid-19, and all other ‘spillover’ diseases, came from eating animals, not plants.   This is a good time to start transitioning to a cruelty-free vegan diet.   We will discover how much better we feel about ourselves.

Paul Stevenson has a lifestyle block in Northland, New Zealand, and is Dad to a number of kunekune pigs.

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