- Religion and Philosophy
MUSINGS ON THIS, THOUGHTS ABOUT THAT
WHY ARE WE THE WAY WE ARE ?
I am in no way a philosopher. I have no degrees and no formal education or training in this field which gives my opinions any legitimacy other than that I believe them. After thinking about several pertinent questions for quite some time regarding how we see ourselves in relation to animals and earth; I have come up with my idea of why we are the way we are; why humans; particularly Western Hemisphere populations believe, behave and act as we do. What set of standards; what rules or commandments have we accepted as reality and, in turn, which we think underscores; supports, our way of thinking about the nature of life, the meaning of life, our place here on this planet and our relationship to other living beings.
Many have adopted the idea that in order to have “rights,” which I understand to be 1) the right to happiness, 2) the right to be free, 3) the right to one’s own life, in essence , the intrinsic right to one’s existence then, one must be capable of thinking “logically,” and in sequential time.
Many postulate that in order to qualify for rights as I’ve described them above, one must be aware of oneself, aware of mortality, able to imagine past and future and plan for same; and hold an image of oneself while recognizing the image. Those who require the above as prerequisite to “rights,” suggest that only the human race is deserving of rights aka right to life. They claim that animals do not possess personal awareness, image of self and an awareness of mortality therefore, they do not have the right to life.
RULES, LAWS, EDICTS, and THEIR EXCEPTIONS...USED TO JUSTIFY or EXCUSE
I have always noticed that there is a commonly understood and accepted mode of thinking when relating to our place in the hierarchy of life. We, through our religions and teachings, have come to believe that we are the “end game,” the highest point, the apex of life. We have listed myriad reasons why this is so and have set up an entire code of ethics to support this hypothesis .
From early time, and within the context of present day living, we of the Western Hemisphere are the product of Christian/Religious dogma, a code of “right and wrong.” Intertwined and (I believe) contradictory is a feeling of superiority which lends itself to actions/behaviors/activities which may or may not be righteous, ethical, moral or legal according to our own laws and rules. But, we have found a way to 'get around' these. At this point, I must point out that all these terms are subjective; all are created for and based upon a system of laws, standards, “expectations” we’ve placed upon ourselves in order to maintain control within our society; in order to avoid chaos and mayhem.
JUST A FEW THOUGHTS......
Laws are made to curb unwanted behaviors and control the masses. Oftentimes now and throughout history, these laws are manipulated and subject to interpretation. Never more so than in today’s world has this been evident.
However, we also have created an image of ourselves which removes our human kind from certain restrictions; certain taboos. Why ? Because we have appetites, desires, urges and other aspects of our nature which we wish to exonerate from the strictures we’ve created in order to control.
There are those who think that being self aware, self conscience and cognizant of our impending death are what make us deserving of rights where as animals who are said to not possess this awareness do not have the right to life. I surmise then that, what is actually being said is: If you are neurotic, you automatically get to live but, if you are free of mental anguish and suffering then, you do not have the right to determine whether you live or die.
We are the ones making the rules and then we impose these rules/ expectations upon other species…We are acting Godlike in this instance. What right do we have to do this? We are limited by our definitions.. we have restricted our ultimate understanding of “life” simply by defining it…we are the authors…who is to say our premises are correct? We and only we!…We do not have the right to impose this on others.
We make rules for ourselves we apply them universally even when, obviously due to our differences, they DO NOT apply which does not make the “other” inferior…only different.
It is height of arrogance to think we have the right to determine the worth of another species based upon our narrow concept of legitimacy. And, to follow, even more presumptive to imagine that we, mere humans, have the right to define and limit the true nature of their existence when, it is glaringly obvious, we have no earthly understanding of the true nature of others beings; any more than we do of ourselves. Furthermore, we, man(woman)kind…made the rules, set the standards and uphold them as if they were God ordained.
In the Declaration of Independence, it reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —”
In this document, in it’s time, it reads, specifically, …”all men” are created equal…..” Of course, now we accept that women are included, as well. If the statement were penned today, it would most certainly say….“all men and women“…It is a matter of evolution and understanding which leads me to wonder if now/or in the near future, I suspect , that this document might read: “…all beings created by God are endowed with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Of course, even if this may happen, it does not apply to other species; only our own. Afterall, it is a document which pertains to humans, created by humans. But, it does serve to illustrate the ongoing evolution; development of thought and our changing interpretation and understand of life. Nothing is absolute.
After all, why would the creator bestow rights upon only one of (his) creations and not all? Some would say because it is our place in the food chain and, I wonder if, certain dictates written so long ago were established to, again, allow us to use other animals at our will and discretion
It makes no sense to apply the same “assumptions” about human beings onto other species. Since it is generally understood that we are different, then, the idea of intellect, intelligence, cerebral cognition, etc. applies only to humans and not to animals. We cannot judge another species based on our own sense of self; we must allow other species to live within their own physical and mental constitution, relevant and intrinsic needs, functions and necessities, and, yes, choices. Animals DO make choices, they DO calculate and they do act in ways which are outside our view of them; i.e. some animals are known to nurture offspring of other species….i.e.: Dog nursing kittens, cat nursing skunklets.
WHAT IS LOVE, ANYWAY? WHAT IS EMOTION? ARE THESE VALID?
The idea that “animals do not love,” cannot be proven and there are no facts upon which to base this premise. I strongly suspect that one’s definition and understanding of “love” is severely limited in scope if it does not encompass a wide variety of ways in which to detect “love.” Human ‘love’ has its own expressions, own emotions, specifics which are typically characteristic of human tendency. This cannot be extrapolated to other species. We cannot expect or limit other species‘ demonstration of “love’ and its expression . Clearly, we are incapable of interpreting the display of or array of emotions, attitudes or intrinsic traits of species other than that of humans because we are limited in our scope of understanding. Because we ARE limited, our attempts to confine other species to our own distinct application is ludicrous. It is just as ridiculous to expect humans to act as intellectually non linear animals .
Emotion is often frowned upon by the same group who hold that non human animals do not think therefore they have no rights. This group wishes to convince us that emotions are inferior to intellect. I would ask such a person this: How do you determine love in your own personal experience? Do you intellectually list the ways in which you love? Or why? Do you rationalize your attraction to another or do you base this on feeling? If an emergency occurs, are your emotions and instincts stirred, or just your intellect? Could this intelligence act to remedy the situation without instinct and emotion? I think not.
If a child is injured by an automobile in front of you; do you analyze the situation and then act or, do you act on an impulse? An emotional response to emergency?
Instinct, emotion, love….these are equally as valid and necessary to survival as is intellect, logic and rationale. None of these are superior; none are inferior. All are necessary to live a full, good life.
Yet, we cannot expect that other living, sentient beings express themselves as we do. Would the world be a “better” place if all were the same? Our “rules” apply to our kind and do not apply to others. If we, linear minded and limited thinking beings wish to narrow our scope, blind ourselves then…fine! But, we DO NOT have the right to force this upon other living beings.
OUR ARROGANCE IS SHOWING
We are an arrogant species. We kill our own. We destroy at will, not out of survival necessity. We contrive, manipulate, deceive, scheme and lie. Yet, We have given ourselves a status equal to that of our concept of “GOD.”
Because non human animals do not act as we do does not give us the right to use them as we wish.. there is no proof that this is ordained by anyone except our forefathers who wrote, thousands of years ago, a system of laws, edicts and directions which were devised to control human behavior, meant to provide sanctions for our (real and perceived) needs and furnish legal “tools” for that time. That was then; this is now. Evolution is in progress every second of every day, every week, month and year…an ongoing and ever evolving process. The old “rules” do not necessarily apply to today’s reality. So much of past doctrines have been cast aside as they are no longer applicable, no longer useful and, in fact, archaic, cruel, demeaning, extremely limited and impotent.
I find it interesting that the qualifications for earning “rights” (aka, right to one’s own existence) is based upon individual awareness of time, history, consequence, etc. So, am I to understand this to mean that those who are capable of premeditation, jealousy, greed, envy, vanity, etc. ARE deserving of the right to life while those animals thought NOT to possess the mental ability to comprehend the above and who live in the present, without malice or manipulation; who live spontaneously and in the moment ARE NOT allowed to have the right to life?
Hmmmmmmmmm…..very very interesting!
THE ZEN OF IT ALL
Those who hold the belief that humans are and animals are not endowed with rights (and, here I do not mean endowed by humans...no, I mean intrinsically endowed because they exist w/no additional precondition) also have a tendency to pepper their opinions with statements such as :”
"Since animals cannot make a rational choice, then it is impossible for them to have rights. The "advocate" groups who argue on behalf of animal rights are only blowing smoke to separate or divide people, on an emotional level.” (another writer on Hubpages). Oh, where to start? First of all, I quote: “'The advocate groups'….are only blowing smoke to separate or divide people.” HUH! Where in the world did this writer come up with such an unsubstantiated cliché, and ludicrous idea? Time worn and untrue; this is a tactic to avoid the content of a discussion and, rather, to cast aspersions, name call, blame, or attempt to isolate his “opponent.” I put this in quotation marks because it is evident the writer appears to be so threatened by an opposing or different viewpoint from his own; thereby seeing that person as a threat, an opponent; that he makes an attempt to discredit that person. Again, this is so tired…so trite…so boring!
(If I can outline my thoughts thusly: we have 'given' ourselves permission to dominate other animals because we have "might." Our, human, side is the only position represented in this 'debate'...the "other" side is forced to be mute; without defense or argument. The entire discussion is one sided. And we make the rules. Because of might..which does not make 'right.')
In closing, I’d like to pose this question: Do we really think that an omnipotent, profound, fantastic, extraordinary being/energy/consciousness/”God” would actually take the time to suggest what we have on the menu for dinner? Really?
And this: We humans (and only some of us; not all of us, by any means) have decreed that there are certain “truths” which are not to be questioned; “facts” which are actual. I posit this: That the “truths” and “facts” that we so willingly accept and adhere to are only the product of our indoctrination; ourselves. These tools are used to implement our way of life; to underscore; to emphasize and to prove that our actions, attitudes, belief systems and behaviors are correct; that we have a preordained superiority here on earth and that, by citing these examples, we are legitimizing ourselves and our view of ourselves in the greater scheme of things. I believe it is as simple as this.
We've either composed (in the past) or accepted our "rules of etiquette" regarding the earth, animals and ourselves. Then, rather than 'questioning authority,' we create a reality that fits nicely (for our own kind) into the scheme of things as delineated by the rules of etiquette. We suppose these to be actual and therefore to be followed; adhered to (as well as the benefits we think we gain as a result of the rules we've authored)and then we lockstep to the dictates and/or fashion a set of explanations of confirmation. Afterall, on some levels, the rules work for us; give us specific "rights," and a sense of superiority. Why would we give these up? For the betterment of all life on this planet? Apparently, not!
Those who do not understand the concept; the idea that, perhaps, we ARE NOT the center, the apex, the highest life achievement have been told, since birth, that we ARE the highest lifeform. This is because of being raised in a HOMOCENTRIC, ANTHROPOCENTRIC environment where we, from early on and throughout the ages, have been taught to view the world this way because the "world;" i.e. nature; in effect, is seen as enemy. To be conquered. To be lorded over. To be quashed.
Well, there you have it...a mindstream of theories, opinions and thoughts which may or may not resonate with any reader.
I have been repetitive; I admit. I only hope I haven't lost you in the process.
It is said that an idea must be heard 7 times in order for it to begin to "sink in."