Saturday, April 17, 2010
a slave in the fields of the lord
"This is interesting that you say farmed animals 'enjoy' a relationship with man... As if they are willing subjects to the enslavement and eventual permanent end/use of their bodies. And while the goal might be to 'protect them from predators' we forget that man is the most 'successful' predator of them all."
--comment posted here, April 11
Domesticated animals are not slaves--slavery is a purely human construct. They are animals of various species who have chosen the path of technophilia--otherwise, they would be impossible to domesticate.
Not all technophiles are domesticated--rats, mice, certain wasps, raccoons, bats, white-tailed deer, and that endless parade of carpenter ants in my back shed all feel the pull of the man-made environment, but they aren't domesticated. Instead, we classify them as pests. Are they to be classified as slaves as well? Seems like some very loaded and disapproving language to use for creatures who have a liking for human waste, human food, and human infrastructure.
As predators go, man is barely adequate--we don't stack up well against lions or sharks, that's for sure. But predation is morally neutral, and in many species an absolute requirement: Most predators have digestive systems that requite they eat meat and nothing else. What's difficult, and not neutral, is the real root of our species' success. We are omnivores, with scavenging and predation in the mix, and this has helped nurture our apparently endless flexibility. It is this flexibility that has gotten us into no end trouble--it's our chief adaptation and our default behavior, and lies at the heart of a lot of very hard problems.
"For me, the crux of it is that killing/eating animals is not necessary for human health. Indeed the more we learn the more it's understood we can thrive on a plant based diet. So the question becomes... If we don't 'need' to place 10 billion animals inside of warehouses and slaughterhouses... Why do it at all?"
--same comment, same date
Does it really matter whether people can get adequate nutrition without eating meat? I don't eat meat, and I don't think it matters. It's not a moral position for me, although others sometimes use vegetarianism as a propellent for their self-regard. And it's not a question of doing or not doing something--it's a question of understanding that having right relations with other creatures requires thought, humility, and an understanding of evolutionary constraints and evolutionary behavior.
What does matter is that almost everyone I have engaged with in the animal-rights movement seems to be amazingly short on hands-on, in-depth knowledge of how different species behave, react, and are profoundly different from each other. This includes an ignorance of how the human species really operates, since we, too, are animals.
To speak broadly of "animals" as a class that includes any being that isn't us is morally unacceptable. We're in this together--bears, dogs, bees, elephants, menhaden, rats, grasshoppers, penguins, and humans--and we need to be able to tell each other apart.