In this New York Daily News article discussing the outrage over Cecil the lion’s death, the author asserts that “we must always value human life more than animals’ lives.” The author claims that “we’d accomplish more focusing our energy on exposing and combating human suffering.”
Incidentally, I wrote a comment that was then deleted three separate times. If you’re interested in seeing my comment, I’ll provide it here:
It is sad that you, the author, believe that we ‘must always value human life more than animals’ lives.’ You completely miss the point. Life is life. Death is death. Whether that’s a cow, human, lion, dog, chicken, mouse, frog, or insect. We are all connected on this earth. When one of us suffers, we all suffer. We cannot progress as a civilization allocating value to what we claim to be important or not. Leo Tolstoy famously said that so long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields. Pythagoras, nearly two millennia ago, said much the same thing: so long as men destroy and massacre animals, men will destroy and massacre themselves. We can know no peace so long as we perpetuate war against other nations—of animals, humans, forests, oceans. Every year 150 billion animals are killed around the world. That’s 5000 animals every SECOND of every DAY. Caring for animals is caring for humans. Compassion and peace is all encompassing, for all living things. African nations have some of the largest herds of cattle yet have some of the highest rates of human starvation. The point being that grains grown in Africa are being fed to cattle when those grains could be fed to humans. Please, please—as a writer—develop some depth and consideration in your words. You are fooling yourself by promoting a dichotomy between humans and animals.
Instead of calling out Cecil’s murderer for the heinous crime he committed and then condemning ALL suffering in this world, the author chose to ask us to care more about humans because animal lives aren’t as important. Much like Cecil’s murderer, the article is weak, cowardly, and unevolved.
Our modern belief that animals are somehow less than humans equates to a cave man dragging around his bludgeoning club. It’s heavy, inconvenient, and it leaves blood stains everywhere we go.
We cannot progress as a civilization with this mindset. We cannot evolve as a species into higher, more peaceful realms of being carrying around beliefs used to inflict pain and suffering on other nations—animals, humans, the sea, the forests. In his rousing inspirational speech, Phillip Wollen proclaims, “Animals are other nations—and we destroy them at our own peril.”
To his credit, the author writes, “If killing an animal is murder, then why distinguish between Cecil the lion and Bessie the cow? Why isn’t killing a defenseless chicken, either through factory farm methods or kosher decapitation, murder? This would make millions of meat-eaters either murderers or accessories to murder.”
That is true. Meat-eaters ARE accessories to murder. There is absolutely no difference—in the value of that individual’s life to the individual—between a chicken, a cow, a lion, or a lion-murdering human, and if you pay for that life to be taken away and placed on your plate, you are promoting murder.
The author even goes on to mention that there is a cornucopia of vegan options to choose from since it is simply not true that a chicken must die for us to survive. So is the author vegan? Probably not. (So, why not? And will he please go vegan? Thanks.)
Still, the author eventually cops out by falling back on the age-old trope of humans being superior to animals. It’s simply easier to believe that, easier to live that way. As Dr. Will Tuttle notes in his “World Peace Diet,”
Ordering a steak earns us approving nods, and our friends rave over the barbecued ribs at the office picnic. The actual confinement, raping, mutilating, and killing are kept carefully hidden as shameful secrets that would make us profoundly uncomfortable if we had to witness them or, worse, perform them ourselves.
We must mourn the loss of Cecil at the hands of a weak and cowardly human. And we must mourn the loss of the 5000 animals per second killed globally by humans. And we must mourn the loss of humans, 82% of whom perish due to lack of water and food that is most often routed to livestock instead of humans. And more important than passively mourning, we must embrace a vegan lifestyle founded in peace and freedom for all living beings and dedicate ourselves to ending the needless death and torture of humans, animals and the natural world. It’s the only way forward.