If Empathy Ruled the World
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


Lisa Selvaggio on ThirdEyeParagonEarth.com
September 2009

The tragedy of the human race is that something went wrong in our evolution; something is missing in most of us, and it is not anything new either. The idea that humans are superior to other beasts and that every other species cannot feel or reason is the greatest fallacy humanity has ever bought into. I have no idea where it started or when it became engrained in our brains, but I do know that it is holding us back from achieving true greatness through peace and a connection to life itself.

When wild animals are taken in, caged up, starved and beaten to learn tricks, and then used for entertainment, I wonder where the empathy has gone. Why is it that I can put myself into that animalís situation and feel the fear and the bewilderment? Why is it that I can compare that to an alien abduction, the kind every human is afraid of, when youíre taken in by another creature to be poked and prodded as they speak a language you donít understand in surroundings youíve never seen before, completely out of your element and away from those you love and trust?

When you hear about a lioness that ďadoptsĒ a baby gazelle, for example, itís intriguing and confusing all at the same time because it defies the laws of Nature, going against every instinct the lioness should have, putting herself and the baby at risk. But what people donít realize is that this is precisely the same thing humans do to myriad species, from birds to reptiles to even wild animals. Our adoption of these other species proves more than necessary that we are incapable of providing them with a suitable environment, diet, and attention. Pets are often neglected, abused, or become ill and die by direct, or even indirect unintentional means. So when we see a lioness adopting a gazelle, ripping it away from its herd and its mother, with no way to properly nurse and tend to it, is Nature trying to prove that this is not a system that works; that it is a system humanity, too, needs to relinquish in order for Nature to function properly and all animals to survive the way they were intended? Once again, we are forcing these animals into an alien environment, away from their own social groups, away from their food sources, away from the natural world itself, and we think that by providing them with artificial everything that theyíll be satisfied and thrive.

But whatís missing in so many people that abuse animals, mangle and kill them for food or sport, and even perform vivisection on them? What makes me and so many others different from the people who have no qualms whatsoever about sowing an innocent animalís eyes shut in a laboratory for an experiment they know will yield no conclusive medical results and that merely wastes taxpayersí money? Why is it that some people continue to believe that animals cannot feel and donít have connections to one another and even to their own lives? What ďgiftĒ have I been given that makes me believe firmly that animals have souls just as humans do, and that animals deserve to live free lives, unrestricted by humanityís selfishness? What makes me see the Earth as my home Ė a home I want to keep clean and respect so that I can share it with those around me and with the future? Why is it that there are movements working toward animal liberation and a healthy environment while there are movements at the exact same time lobbying for more money and power at the expense of lives, even human lives, and the life of the planet?

I donít mean to come across as egotistical or ďholier than thou,Ē I just want to comprehend why we canít all agree that when an animal is strapped to a table and cut open while conscious it does feel pain and horror. Arenít the screams enough? Isnít the writhing enough? I would assume that if the animal just sat there, unresponsive, while a needle injected poison into its eye that it, indeed, doesnít feel. But that is never the case. So why canít scientists, who are supposed to understand more than the rest of us just how bodies work Ė bodies of humans, animals, and the Earth itself Ė stop theyíre sadistic experiments? We can all agree that when humans endured these types of experiments under Dr. Mengele during World War II, it was unjustifiably cruel and something that should never occur in the first place. Why not extend that to other creatures, from primates to rodents to domesticated animals that never see the light of day from their barren, cold cages, and whose bodies are forced to deal with toxins and poisons that will eventually harm humans despite what the FDA will tell you, and whose minds have to endure extreme isolation until insanity sets in and then finally death?

Why are the same laws protecting people from these abuses not extended to animals? Perhaps itís because some people see nothing wrong with hurting each other either. Thatís why the American government performed above-ground testing of atomic bombs in areas of Nevada and Utah, for example, during the Ď50s Ė you know, to sacrifice some lives in the name of national security. Thatís why the pharmaceutical industry cares only for profits, not for the fact that its medications do more harm than good, are sometimes fatal, and only suppress humanityís ability to be truly healthy. Thatís why global corporations care nothing for the environments they destroy or the lives they destroy when they plant themselves in developing countries and pay two cents per hour or force children into labor. Thatís why the food industry pumps animals used for food full of hormones and antibiotics, poisons our water and pollutes our oceans with no regard to the toxic fish that people will eat, and then forces organic, small-scale farms out of business to promote its own genetically-modified crops.

But I wonder; if everyone would start seeing the connection we have to other creatures and to the Earth, will the fighting subside, will the sickness wane? Will we finally see that itís not worth dropping bombs when we know that those actions wonít just hurt our human enemies, but innocent animals and the Earth too? If the person who slams the chicken against the wall for no reason except sick enjoyment before it is sent to slaughter realizes that that chicken has the same right to life and security that he does, will he lose his violent disposition? If the scientist who burns an animal alive to see if an artificially produced chemical is safe for human use realizes that that animal is no less worthy than a human to live a natural life free of its ďalien abductor,Ē will he instead focus his energies and intellect toward sustainable design and a more holistic approach toward health? I think so. In fact, I know so.

Here I am, with this gift of empathy. But Iím not alone. There are billions out there like me. And Iíd like to believe we outnumber the sadists. Most people donít want to see animals being mistreated. Most people donít want their tax dollars going toward useless experiments. So we have to tip the scales. We need to take the control and the power back. We need to find strength in our numbers and recognize each other in a crowd by making our voices heard and no longer standing in the background or on the sidelines while the un-evolved take their places at the canned hunts, at the circuses and zoos, at the fur- and factory-farms, and at the blades that cut down forests of trees. Itís time empathy lives again before the lack of it swallows us whole and takes the good down with the bad. Itís not enough to say we care; we have to show it - first to the place that we call home, our planet Earth; then to the creatures who play their part in helping to keep the Earth livable by being able to thrive and reproduce as intended; and finally toward one another. Itís time to wipe away the apathy, the selfishness and greed, and replace it with empathy, that simple emotion that letís us gaze into an animalís eyes when itís in distress and see in them our own.

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