Monday, 7 June 2010

Animals, Why Should We Care?

So, back to the killing and eating animals topic.......

I was just talking about the similarities between the way we abuse our fellow humans and the way we abuse animals. I concluded that there is little or no difference between the two. I also said that we don`t get away with our assumed right to kill and eat animals because on some level we know we are doing wrong.

I can hear some of you protesting that you certainly don`t feel any guilt whatsoever !!!!! Hmmmmmmm....So what do I mean then, if people are eating meat and feeling quite comfortable with doing it?

I think that the issue is not whether any one person feels guilt or not, consciously or not, I think the point is that the guilt is buried deep inside us and that all of us carry the guilt of us all, for us all. In the same way that we all carry some guilt for the holocaust, for example, where of course we are none of us directly responsible, but because somewhere within us we know that we have all held prejudices, grudges, hatereds for people, we know that our darker impulses are part of the Nazi murder of Jews. This similitude is embedded deep within our psyche, we have all felt these feelings, maybe acted upon them, certainly we`ve watched others get bullied and done nothing. Of course, we don`t all take these urges to hurt to ultimate animal conclusions, but we often have difficulty resisting our need to hurt others.

We have discussed in other blogs how groups ask us to support them at the expense of outsiders, and often against our better judgment. They ask us to be accomplices and absolve us as reward for our loyalty. Where there is a group, such as the extreme example of the Nazis, evil is compartmentalised, and all member's defuse guilt for each other by convincing each other that their behaviour is acceptable. Where most Nazi soldiers were not guilty of murdering Jews, they were all complicit as part of the Nazi machine. Underlings may not have choices in regard to whom they hurt, but they are all part of the guilt nonetheless. A group is an organism, it supplies all needs for itself within itself and little people who don`t want to be caught up in evil when required to, invariably do so to at least some extent.

In the same way that the entire German nation was complicit, actively or passively, in the murder of Jews, all groups are capable of doing harm to others with a diminished conscience because of the dissipation of guilt within the whole. We talked about the Catholic church a while back and that even priests who are innocent of involvement in child-abuse are complicit as part of the group that has child-abuse within it. They too carry guilt for their guilty colleagues; it plays a part in their behaviour, their relationship to church goers and ultimately in religious practice and religious doctrine (I want to come back to this point in a future blog). Though we tend to separate(need to)the guilty from the not-guilty, the two are linked symbiotically as part of the same body.

Where we see in our societies higher moral values, spiritual pursuits, sensitive attunement to the more "feminine side", we see represented our capacity to turn away from the more animalistic drives that inhabit our human selves. Personally, I would tend to define a schism between our higher nature... let`s be controversial and call it our divine soul(!)... and our existential/animal selves, our animal soul. I use these terms not because I adhere to any religious values at all, but simply because this distinction has always helped me to understand the force of one of our drives against the other. The concept has also enabled me to see the game play of the divine soul versus the animal soul; how we are the servants of one, on one level, and how we have higher needs on the other. I have seen, too, how our intelligence as a species can quest us towards fulfilment in our "divine" aspect, yet also how our intelligence can be hijacked by our animal soul in order to furnish its needs.

So, given that our cruelty towards animals and people are part of the same instinct, I think that, just as our social groups carry collective guilt for all these deeds, so they do for eating animals, animal cruelty and experimentation. It is precisely that our guilt is carried and diffused by the group that we are able to abuse animals. As a higher impulse, the more sensitive amongst us will see injustice, cruelty and unfairness manifoldly in our societies and will attempt to move the rest of us to behave according to higher values, but often we don`t like to hear about our guilt and we run from it. In the end though, I am certain, inhumanity towards our fellow humans cannot cease until we stop hurting, and yes, eating, animals. The reason for this painful conclusion is that our ability to compartmentalise our guilt, hide it from ourselves as individuals, and the large-scale version of this where we dilute it by hiding it in our larger social groups, means that there is always some guilt or other creating a guilt -avoidance action. In other words, one thing enables the other.

I will be back onto this topic very sooooon........

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