September 2009 Archives
From Dominion, Matthew Scully
The care of animals brings with it often complicated problems of economics, ecology, and science. But above all it confronts us with questions of conscience. Many of us seem to have lost all sense of restraint toward animals, an understanding of natural boundaries, a respect for them as beings with needs and wants and a place and purpose of their own. Too often, too casually, we assume that our interests always come first, and if itʼs profitable or expedient that is all we need to know. We assume that all these other creatures with whom we share the earth are here for us, and only for us. We assume, in effect, that we are everything and they are nothing.
Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankindʼs capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they donʼt: because they all stand unequal and powerless before us. Animals are so easily overlooked, their interests so easily brushed aside. Whenever we humans enter their world, from our farms to the local animal shelter to the African savanna, we enter as lords of the earth bearing strange powers of terror and mercy alike.
Dominion, as we call this power in Western tradition, today requires our concentrated moral consideration, as I have tried in these pages that follow to give it mine. I hope also to convey a sense of fellowship that I know many readers will share- a sense that all of these creatures in our midst are here with us, not just for us. Though reason must guide us in laying down standards and laws regarding animals, and in examining the arguments of those who reject such standards, it is usually best in any moral inquiry to start with the original motivation, which in the case of animals we may without embarrassment call love. Human beings love animals as only the higher love the lower, the knowing love the innocent, and the strong love the vulnerable. When we wince at the suffering of animals, that feeling speaks well of us even when we ignore it, and those who dismiss love for our fellow creatures as mere sentimentality overlook a good and important part of our humanity.
Some readers will say that animals awaken fantasy, if not heresy, in those who attach moral significance to them. Yet often I think it is the more violent among us who are living out the fantasy, some delusion in which everything in nature is nothing and all is permitted. As sentimentality towards animals can be overindulged, so, too can grim realism, seeing only the things we want in animals and not the animals themselves. They do us a service if only by inspiring now and then a sense of wonder and humility.
The first is a pdf version of the article and the second is the link to the website version. You have to create an account with the New York Times website to view it. Be sure to check out the videos that accompany the article.
Above is an excerpt from The Global Theme Park Industry by S. Anton Clave. Enjoy!