Medieval drawing of a cat being hanged after his trial.
The oppression, injustices and physical cruelties which humans inflict upon non humans throughout the world are without a doubt horrifying and deplorable. Yet, one of the most unjust and callous actions we take against the other animals is in how we judge them.
We commit the gravest form of discrimination and prejudice when we pretend we know what.... they don't think or what it is.... they don't feel.
And when we humans come to the short sighted conclusions about the other animals, we've usually arrived there without any sufficient evidence or real empathetic understanding.
We've raised the bar so high for the other animals to be considered persons with feelings and interests that even we ourselves cannot make it over such a high mark.
History proves that humans cannot live without illusion. We create false worlds to justify our behavior and fears.
Irrational faith and absurd belief systems seem to be our only way of coping with the reality that we are mortal beings, no different from the other animals of the world.
Like all the other animals we are born, seek mates (companionship) forage for food and then we die.
Just like the other animals we cannot control our own fate, yet we believe....
We judge the other animals as unaware and declare that they do not understand life and death. But the truth is we have no understanding of what happens to us after we die either.
We are like every other animal who has lived and died on this planet and like all other creatures, have no answer for why we're here.
Yet, we homo sapiens constantly pretend we know things we do not know and then judge the other animals as being ignorant of the world they inhabit.
In the big blueprint of life, we are no different than all the other animals.
Yet we humans still believe that we are different and somehow more .....important.
We imagine that a squirrel gathering nuts or a dove building a nest is doing trivial work.
We then go on to believe our shopping sprees, our sitting in traffic or meeting job deadlines are so much more important and substantial.
They are not.
In the big scope of being and existence it's all the same.
We've formed the notion that our consciousness and a concept of self is what places us above non humans.
We judge the consciousness of others so harshly while we fail to admit that we know very little about our own consciousness .
There are basic questions that no humans even have the answers to yet.
Yes, we know the brain is the source of mental life but we have no understanding of how it all happens. We merely recognize that the mind is what the brain does but we have no idea how it creates consciousness itself.
Yet, after all this we are still determined to claim that non human animals somehow lack this feature called consciousness. Which is something that we know so little about.
And all the while it appears obvious that the other animals brains create minds as well.
Where is our humility?
While we know many things about who we are as a species it's still a mystery of how our own thoughts and our moods can exist and become illuminated in a big clump of grey mass we call our brains.
The other problem, however, is we demand reportability about some one's subjective experience through words in order to declare such consciousness as real rather than allow for the simple observation that there is someone....there.
And while we do allow consciousness to be accepted on its outward signs for humans who cannot speak
(such as human infants)
most people will not grant the same for non humans.
Human beings also arrive at the judgement that the other animals lives are worth much less because their perception and thought go on without any consciousness.
Most humans believe non human animals don't think or understand what they're doing and therefore this somehow allows humans to feel justified in taking animals lives away from them.
But conscious perception is a very small part of what we ourselves experience. Here again we are to quick to judge the others when we ourselves live in a world that is nearly dream like and much more shadowy than we tend to admit.
Consciousness is variable for humans, it is not a constant state.
For instance the most accomplished musicians or athletes are usually not even aware of their own movements, they are usually not thinking about what they're doing....they are just doing and being.
Yet when we accuse animals of existing in this state.... it is somehow inferior.
Who are we to judge non humans so harshly and with such irrational arrogance?
The fact remains quite clear that we have been wrong about nearly everything in the past we thought we knew to be the truth.
In recent history for example, most people believed that the sun revolved around the earth and that the earth was stationary and the center of the universe.
Before Darwin's theory of natural selection was published humans believed they were created from dirt, with a divine breath in the image of a Father who lived in the sky.
Humans maintain that the other animals act merely by automated instinct.
Anyone who has spent time with a nonhuman knows this to be false as they can make decisions and choices where instinct could not be the main participant.
However, we ourselves realize that instinct when combined with raw emotions are the most intense and meaningful experiences we can have.
Our judgement that we are superior to animals because we operate with reason and rational thought has recently been proved to be false.
The brilliant neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has been studying humans who have brain damage either from strokes or other accidents...these humans cannot process their emotions or feel anything. These people cannot make decisions. He has shown that humans cannot think rationally without feeling a gut instinct or raw emotion first.
We've been wrong about ourselves, about our own minds and of course about our own place and importance in the universe. Through eons of our irrational judgments about animals we have misunderstood them completely.
Tragically, it seems true, that our judgment about the other animals has been and still is terribly wrong as well.
The consequences of making false judgments regarding non human animals is that it enables humans to murder them indiscriminately by the billions upon billions every year and thus bringing so much unnecessary violence and misery into their lives.
For thousands of years animals have been butchered, hunted and worked to death all because we have judged them unfairly and incorrectly.
It takes nothing away from us to end the false judgements we render against them. We lose nothing when we become more emotionally and intellectually honest when regarding who they are.
We do not become less alive or less human when we stop judging the other animals unfairly. In fact we know that by becoming more loving and compassionate toward the other animals it will inspire more kindness everywhere and bring about a much healthier, happier world.
This is a scientific fact.
We've taken away so much dignity from countless, magnificent, beautiful beings by judging them inaccurately.
If we can see ourselves in them, we can realize how much we all actually share.
If we can allow the other animals to simply live their lives without such negative judgement there would possibly never be a need for us to build sanctuaries for them.
They, like us, want to live a life that is free from suffering and filled with happiness.
Become a sanctuary for others.
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood