I’m not a fanatic when it comes to animal rights and such, but I recently finished a book called Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer that gave me pause to reconsider some things.
Singer is a controversial writer and philosopher. His position on euthanasia, late-term abortion, and other difficult ethical matters often obscures his equally challenging work on animal rights. His book, Animal Liberation, is the definitive work on the subject.
What got me thinking about this was a headline about medical testing on dogs conducted by the Veterans Administration.
VA: Fatal dog experiments moving ahead despite criticism from Congress, veterans’ groups
Now as everyone knows, a dog is the perfect companion. No matter the circumstances, dogs are always loyal. They welcome you home every day as if you are the most important person in the world.
No matter what.
Using such living beings for medical experiments, no matter how noble or well-intentioned, is difficult to accept. I think we should take a long hard look at our appreciation and respect for the lives of all sentient beings before assuming we may use them for our own benefit.
It may be easy to ignore such activities when removed from the reality, but would you surrender your own dog for such experiments? Would you stand there and watch your loyal, caring, always-happy friend be tortured in the name of medical research?
Then why would you acquiesce to it being done to any other animal? Silence is complicity in the face of cruel injustice.
There is a balance to be struck. Nature is governed by predators and prey. That evolution has endowed us with reason and self-awareness may differentiate us from other living beings, but is it enough to justify wanton domination for self-preservation? Wouldn’t a better indication of the superiority of human nature be our showing respect for the fellow living beings with whom we share life in the universe?
And a respect for the planet we oh-so-briefly occupy?
Now, if you want to use cats, I can see no rational reason to oppose it.