I recently wrote about a childhood incident that resonated strongly with me. Krissa, one of my most prized readers, commented on that piece in such a way that led me to believe I hadn't expressed myself very clearly or fully regarding how I felt about human animal interaction with beings that don't happen to be human.
What I was trying to get to is the notion that no being should be interfering with another being. That if you have strengths someone else lacks, then no fair using them when interacting with them. If I am physically stronger than you, no fair using that strength to my advantage. I can use it to help you, or even to help me (as long as it doesn't interfere with you). The notion is, for want of a better way to express it, to live and let live. To behave fairly.
Now, one of the things I notice (or so it seems to me) is that most human animal problems are caused by human animals. I am excluding problems that all living beings face as a function of living on the planet that we do...e.g., weather, earthquakes, disease, aging, etc. All living beings face these sorts of problems or situations.
No, I am referencing problems like war, poverty, crime, traffic accidents, suicide and on and on. If you take a newspaper and read each "news" item on each and every page, the likelihood is high that most problems you see written about are about problems that humans inflict (either on purpose or accidentally) upon themselves.
Which is really sort of weird when you think about it. Walt Kelly once had his cartoon character, Pogo, voice a thought that sort of sums it up to me. Pogo said: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo was talking about environmental problems, but I think his observation goes much further than that.
I know it seems as if I am digressing, but where I am heading is here. If humans want to cause themselves problems, well, ok. We cause the problem, we can choose to not cause the problem (at least I hope we can). In other words, we have the power, it is in our control and causing ourselves problems hurts us. We cause pain, we feel the pain we cause. Fine, that's our choice.
But, when we cause pain or problems or whatever negative thing we're talking about, when we do things that inflict harm or hurt onto some being that isn't a human being...then we are (to me) into a whole different magnitude and/or order of stuff. I am also including harm to the environment we share with other beings.
This is an order of wrongness that exceeds astronomically any sort of suffering we inflict upon ourselves or some other being that is human.
This is my logic, if I choose to take a pin and stick it in my knee...I did the sticking, I received the results of the sticking. I did something that causes pain, I felt the pain. That's my look out...no harm or discomfort (unless I yell or something) to anyone else. But, if I take a pin and stick someone else in the knee, different thing...I have drug someone else into the situation. However, if that someone else is a human, and relatively equal in terms of age, size, physical ability, etc then that other being has the power to do something about my sticking them...if they choose. They can, all else being equal, reciprocate or retaliate or or negotiate or bitch and moan or whatever...effectively. They can, if you will, look out for themselves. If they are a child, not so much, but, depending on their age they can maybe report me to someone else who will stand up for them. And, there are rules, I could be punished for causing pain to someone who is not myself. (I know these processes don't work lots of times, and lots of unfairness is virtually perpetual but that is too much to get into here, ok?...anyway that is human animal to human animal stuff...a different thing than what I am writing about right now)
But if I do something that causes pain to a hamster, or a rat, or a dog, or a cat or any other being that is not a human being. Then I am cheating, I am in a position to cause pain with no consequences to me. Now I am assuming that I have confined or somehow else rendered that rat or dog or whomever powerless toward me...they can't retaliate or do anything else to defend themselves. They are simply mine to do toward however I want and no bad things happen to me as a result. No comebacks...I am free and clear to visit mayhem upon them. If I choose.
This is the ultimate "badness". I wrote earlier about bullying, about exploiting, about using force on others. To me, it is much much much much (think of the word much lined up to infinity) worse to hurt, harm, scare, kill a being that is not a human type being than it is to hurt, harm, scare, kill a human being because that other...that being that is not human is in the ultimate powerless position...therefore the difference in power (because of what we humans have done) is virtually infinite. That sort of power imbalance doesn't exist (generally speaking) from one human to another. Even in the example I wrote about, the boy that was bullied could have, if he had chosen to, done something to retaliate against his tormentor. (Complained to the teacher, ambushed his bully, spit in the food of the bully, something...point being he could have sometime or another gotten his licks in if he wanted).
Those beings that share the planet with us have no such recourse, not practically speaking. We confine them, we exploit them, we abuse them, we torture them, we cause them pain and suffering, we steal and kill their babies, we steal the milk meant for their babies, we kill them, we devour them. And they have no power to defend themselves, to retaliate, to run away, to help themselves. None (for all intents and purposes). They do not speak human language so we ignore their complaints, they can't hire lawyers...so they can't sue us. The few "rules" we human animals have set up to "protect" them are a joke and worse than meaningless.
They are the ultimate victims, the ultimate innocents, the ultimate powerless ones...and those that take advantage of them...are the ultimate bullies. We have met the bully, and he is us. And, I don't want to be one of those bullies, not any more (and I have much to pay penance for) ever, ever, ever.
And that is why I am endeavoring to live as an ethical vegan. Not because I am a "good" person, but because I don't want to be that kind of a bully. Doing something bad to a human animal is lousy, but at least the human animal has recourse against me, doing something bad to a being that can (practically speaking) do nothing back at me...well that just sucks and I do not want to participate in that kind of crap any longer...ever. And piss on me for ever having done so.
There, I think that is what I wanted to say. Let me know if I got the point across, thanks.