The other evening I watched an episode of Harry’s Law on TV. One of the cases was about a Gorilla being treated cruelly and kept caged up in a zoo by himself. The defense pleaded that this great ape was so human in its actions and intelligence that it deserved to be granted personhood. And although other countries have begun to grant animals personhood status, the United States is not yet one of them.
Sadly, in the end, they were not able to save the Gorilla or get the court to recognize personhood status. The argument that lost the case was that many other animals are highly intelligent, like chickens, dolphins, elephants and pigs. (A new study in the Journal of Science has even discovered that rats feel empathy.)
This case illuminated Speciesism, and that we as human beings do in fact condone this as a society.
The lead attorney, “Harry”, at one point stated that she does enjoy her Duck hunting. But in the very next breath, stated that this Gorilla was deserving of personhood and associated rights.
My question here, is how do we justify deciding what life has value and which does not?
Do we believe that if an animal has emotions then it should be spared from death? Well science has proven that all creatures feel emotions. All creatures feel pain, and a sense of Family.
Our dogs and cats are precious to us, yet they are actually far down the list in intelligence ranking.
And would we ever let people skin our pets alive, and then slice them up and eat them?
No, I’m sure that most of you find this thought absolutely repulsive and unconscionable.
But can we understand that when we do this, we are not only practicing speciesism, but God-like superiority and dominion over all other living beings. Deciding that one life has value while another has little or none.
Simply put, I just do not understand. I do not understand how I lived in such ignorance and delusion most of my adult life with no awareness of the tragedies being committed on living beings every day. I closed my eyes, my heart, and my mind, and just ordered that hamburger or bacon & eggs. For me it was only a sandwich or breakfast.
I cannot go back and undo what has been done, but I certainly can live this day with greater awareness and compassion. Valuing all life, all creatures, all beings, regardless of their size or intelligence.
I practice each day to become more aware and more mindful so that I do not participate in the causing of harm to any living being.
Perhaps you can ask yourself today, which life is deserving of personhood. And are you willing to be the one who decides?
May you be well, happy and peaceful.