A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I had a boyfriend who owned a sweet Boxer puppy dog…
In my “dating years,” I went out with quite a few characters, let’s say… In fact, I tended to date several guys at once because my rule was “no ring, no commitment…” This one particular boyfriend was a handsome fellow… He was half-Native American, and… ok, he was just plain attractive.
At least on the outside….
He would cook lavish dinners for me, and he had a strong, outgoing personality… He also was a tattoo artist (with a wild past…) At that time in my young life, I thought, hey, whatever. I wasn’t one to judge, and it seemed as if he really wanted to amend his life.
There were plenty of red flags that existed. For instance, I had just recently converted back to the Faith, and he was yet another agnostic. His mom introduced us because “maybe I could straighten him out…” (Um, no.). He wanted to “marry” within a week, and he would call me incessantly, like all day, to find out what I was doing. (Can anyone say: “control freak”?)
But being an open-minded adventure seeker, those items weren’t enough to keep me from dating him, getting a tattoo myself, and enjoying the nice dinners and wild company. Ah, the craziness of youth….
However, my eyes were truly opened one day when his sweet puppy, with her tail wagging furiously and with excited loyalty to her owner, wouldn’t sit quite yet on command. The man backhanded the dog in the face, sending her across the room as she let out a high-pitched whimper…
I was horrified.
I had never seen anything like this in my entire life, and the first thought that crossed my mind was: if he would do this to a sweet puppy, what would he do to me? He had never lifted a hand to me, but I wasn’t about to take a chance, and my vibes were ringing with alarm… So I backed away, and I never saw him again.
I found out later that he had been violently abused by his father, and that he had been violent and obsessive with former girlfriends. My intuition was right….
But I learned a life lesson. If someone is cruel to helpless animals, they are, or most likely will be, cruel to humans. This also applies the other way around…. There was, and is, a connection between animal cruelty and human cruelty.
Once a person feels dehumanized, and they have not forgiven the aggressor, it’s almost as if they need to “take it out” on another helpless being. For those of us who are healthy, it would not occur to us to torture a bunny or a puppy or a horse or ANY living being… Why would we find pleasure in such an act, if we know what healthy human relationships are, and we value life as a whole?
However, there is a movement of individuals and special organizations who have the whole issue flip-flopped. They are right to be enraged with animal cruelty. But perhaps they should look into why (or if) a person would be compelled to harm an innocent animal. Or perhaps they should study what the word “cruelty” really means, and how it applies to animals as opposed to humans.
Would you say it is “cruel” to let a dog sleep outside in a warm doghouse? Would you say it is cruel to let a barn cat hunt for rodents? Would you say it is cruel to not bring your bull or horse or hog into your house for the night, into his own bedroom, on a cold evening?
Of course not.
Would it be cruel to put your child in a doghouse overnight? Would it be cruel to leave your child out on a pasture for many hours without your company, to fend for herself as far as food? Would it be cruel to make your child drink out of a bucket?
And herein lies the secret. When animals are elevated to being worth “more” than humans, we lose a sense of what is “cruel” and what is not. When an animal is recognized as a “person” by the state, and a human is not, what is the natural consequence? It’s UNnatural…. the child is devalued, his or her parents are devalued, and humans are expected to serve animals and give their lives to ensure that animals have human-like (or better than human-like) care, while the poor among us go hungry. Some people spend $4000 or more on surgery to keep their 12 year old dog alive, and that is absolutely their right to do so… But to force them to do so (under penalty of being accused with so-called “cruelty”) is wrong and out of line, because meanwhile, everyday humans struggle with even basic medical bills….
But here’s the part that animal activists often miss: when people start to devalue human life, animal life is devalued, too, on a larger scale, especially on many government-subsidized farms where animals are packed onto small lots to live in their own feces. Small farms and regular family homes with pets, however, usually are inhabited with people who simply love life, aren’t politically motivated, and most of the time are not making a profit from their animals. But these are the very people that animal activists tend to target (because they can…), all the while missing out on the large-scale attack on humans AND animals behind the scenes of large organizations.
When animals are elevated and protected more than human life, injustice starts to run rampant… For instance, in Colorado, it is illegal to break a falcon egg. It is also illegal to shoot a falcon even if it is swooping down to eat your cat. However, in the same state, it is legal to kill a full-term human baby in the womb. We might agree on not shooting a falcon (they are beautiful birds…), but a falcon EGG? Isn’t that a falcon fetus? How does an unborn falcon have rights?
Of course, I would never intentionally break the egg of a falcon or eagle. But that is because I value life altogether… ALL LIFE. My respect for animal life springs from my respect for human life and the good that animals bring to us.
I say this with confidence: if you truly love animals, you will first love those that care for them. If you have a question about a person’s animals, you will ask the human PERSON about your concerns (which may be legitimate!) out of your respect and care for the human person. When you treat the human person as they are, a person with rights in this country, you may discover that they feed their animals at 10 in the morning instead of 9:00… You may discover that they are facing cancer and sadly looking for homes for their animals… You may discover that they love their animals more than YOU do, and that they sacrifice vacations and new shoes so that their animals can have hay and food… You may discover that they have no special “pro-animal” or “anti-animal” political agenda, but are just doing their best to live out the Constitutional right of “pursuit of happiness” for themselves or their family… You may discover that the person has an autistic son who is calmed down by the animals and is healthier because of them…. You may discover that your mission to “save the animals at all cost” has an unfortunate slippery slope of a crime I call “cruelty to humans” if you don’t put the rights of human life first.
And so, I have a challenge for all who love animals and engage in animal activism…. Love and value human life above all, and you will see a real positive change in the world… As a result of human love, animals will be more cherished as well. When we first start the ripple effect of respecting people, the kind treatment of animals will follow because, after all, when we feel loved, we as humans spread the love, and all of creation benefits.