Caring for those outside your circle of compassion
by Jamey West
We were all flabbergasted by the people who just laughed when we
shouted about the suffering of circus animals (they were driving out and
we were standing at the gate with signs). How could they not care?
Many people do not care about non-human animals. To them they are
dirty, ill-mannered and good-for-nothing except making poop or whatever
human beings can exploit them for. That is all they know. For many
people that is all they will ever know. Their knowledge base is full in this
information category. I could have been one of these individuals, if it had
not been for a birthday present from my parents; an aquarium. Suddenly,
these commodities were individuals with needs, moods, sickness and
death. They depended on me just as an infant might. They were happy
to see me. Soon, I began to just hang out at aquarium shops, just
to watch the fish. Later, I evolved to zoos. Later to hikes in the forest.
Ultimately, I have evolved to animal rights, and do not promote or
participate in any of the aforementioned activities except an occasional
hike in the woods. But, the point is that if animals exist in the minds
of most people as enemies or mere abstractions how can we expect
people to really care about their fate.
So often, all the general public hears from animal rights community is
about the cruelty, the stats. Maybe, that is why Jane Goodall has such
an allure. She does not focus on the cruelty, but on the individuals for
whom she has compassion. People watch her and instantly love these
beings. They are on their side. Why do you think there is so much
more protest for doing experiments on dogs and cats than mice, or even
goats or pigs?
Sorry, if I drifted from the initial question. But, with no moral authority
dictating for whom we have compassion, I think that compassion will fall for
whom it may naturally fall, kind of like rain does; in a seemingly random
way. Not everyone is a philosopher; not everyone will try and deduce for
whom he or she will have compassion. So, he/she who does not like or relate
to animals would not be expected to have compassion for them. In a way "Love
your enemy" is a contradiction of terms, as is "have compassion for
those you do not like."
Jamey Lee West
Peace for All Beings