Animal Rights, Mammonism and the Golden Rule
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy


Dr. Michael W. Fox

[Ed. Note: believes that all people and animals were created with God-given rights to be free from harm and abuse, and to live their individual lives as God originally intended. God's gift of this physical world is also a right of enjoyment for all His creatures, and thus, it requires our care and protection for all future generations. This article by Dr. Fox expounds on that commitment to treating others as we ourselves want to be treated.]

Mammonism: Generally defined as devotion to the pursuit of wealth.

The ethical principle and moral code of treating others as we would have them treat us is the egalitarian Golden Rule which is at the heart of all compassion and justice-based religious and spiritual traditions.

The Golden Rule was seen as the guiding principle of social organization and community integrity. But as history informs, when it was not extended to embrace other species and other communities, human and non-human, and also the natural environment, the Golden Rule became corrupted, as by the mammonist dictum that those who have the gold rule: Civilizations foundered and became extinct. This has become the dominant ethos of the industrial world and the now failing global economy.

What Jesuit priest and philosopher-scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin termed ‘technoinvolution’ has catalyzed human evolution toward becoming either Homo technos, man the technocrat, or a more enlightened form of Homo sapiens, man the wise. The latter embraces the empathy and justice-based bioethics of extending the Golden Rule to include all sentient life forms and their natural environments and communities, and respects their biological, ecological/environmental values and intrinsic rights.

In contrast, Homo technos embraces the amoral ‘objectivity’ of material sciences as truth, and sees productivity, efficiency and consumption in economic terms of profit margins and as the ultimate good. The genetic engineering and patenting of plants and animals illustrates a disturbing degree of hubris by the new industry of Homo technos, biotechnology. This goes beyond mere exploitation of all that is natural, to the re-creation in their own image of utility and profitability, and is driven more by investors, coupled with protection of “intellectual property rights,” than by any genuine motivation to improve the quality of life and beauty on this planet.

My friend the late Rev. Thomas Berry termed the egalitarian perspective of more enlightened Homo sapiens “cosmocentric”. This is the antithesis of the chauvinistic and materialistic, anthropocentric perspective of technocratic man and the dominant culture of mammon. In this culture of mammon, animals are regarded and treated as mere commodities and their habitats as natural resources for man’s own exclusive use. Technocratic man is characteristically authoritarian, non-vegetarian (unless for personal health reasons), and makes alliances based on capital investments that circumvent the rule of law and national sovereignty through the anarchy of transnational corporate hegemony, and enjoys the protection of the industrial-academic-government-military complex.

Being cosmocentric means being open to creatively participate in a universe of subjects rather than an illusory collection of objects, to paraphrase Thomas Berry. This openness engages our sentience (feeling-awareness) through empathy, with other sentient beings in what I have termed the empathosphere. We feel their suffering and their joy.

For the young of our own kind and for those individuals and societies which have not yet developed such emotional intelligence, ethical principles and moral codes based on the Golden Rule to foster compassion and justice must be taught and legally enforced as needed. Compassion and justice are best promulgated through example, as my wife Deanna Krantz so effectively demonstrated in her animal welfare and environmental protection work in India. Ignorance, indifference, hopelessness and despair can be overcome through education and by what Buddhists call right action and right mindfulness. Every teacher, healer and activist aspiring to live in accord with the Golden Rule inspires others with the wisdom of altruism as enlightened self-interest.

In conclusion, humanity will continue to be at war with itself and find no solutions to such critical issues as overpopulation, over-consumption, climate change, loss of biodiversity with accelerating species extinction, and animal and human suffering, until the Golden Rule becomes the template for the guidance and governance of all human affairs. The revolutionary consequences of living in closer accord with this egalitarian ethic, and applying it as the organizing principle in every community, business enterprise and human activity, especially in agriculture, forestry, mining, oil-drilling and manufacturing as well as government where corruption in all its forms stalks the halls of reason and justice, would indeed be evolutionary.

Those involved today in animal and environmental protection and human rights are part of this evolutionary process, the arresting of which the unenlightened mammonists, secular and religious, East and West, unwisely believe to be in their best interests. They should remember the biological truism ‘either evolve or perish.’

I feel deeply for those who suffer the suffering of animals and the annihilation of the life and beauty of the natural world; and for those who have ‘burned out’ trying to save the last of the wild and rescue animals from the inhumanity and insanity of these times. They must know that they are not alone, for there is no failure when the spirit of compassion and justice do not see immediate results, for evolution is an erratic, non-linear process, punctuated by instances if not ages of enlightenment, and is sustained by the innate wisdom of our species to embrace the Golden Rule.

Dr. Michael W. Fox is a well-known veterinarian, former vice president of The Humane Society of the United States, former vice president of Humane Society International and the author of more than 40 adult and children’s books on animal care, animal behavior and bioethics. He is also a graduate veterinarian from the Royal Veterinary College, London, whose research lead to a PhD (Medicine) and a DSc (ethology/animal behavior) from the University of London, England.

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