The Sorrow Of The Animals - The Scapegoating Pandemic Series
From The Caring Heart with Dr. Joyce from Spokane Washington

“One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: one kid of the goats for a sin offering: and for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Shelumiel the son of Zurishadai” (Numbers 7:39-41)

According to many scholars of ancient history, for thousands of years humans killed animals because they needed to eat.  In the ice ages, with glaciers all around, there sure wasn’t much else!  Either kill and eat, or die!  Also, having vegetable foods available which could sustain life depended on what part of the globe one lived on.  For instance, in huge areas of the Americas, various tubers, like sweet potatoes, were the only plant life of any eatable quantity.  Although these could be harvested year around, they were very low on protein, necessitating obtaining some kind of meat or fish.  (Watson 2011). In the old world, the invention of agriculture provided for the growing of large quantities of grain, which contained much more needed protein. 

Along with being killed for food, ancient peoples killed animals as sacrifices to appease the “gods,” whichever fictitious gods they believed were responsible for the incredible natural catastrophes they had to endure – volcano eruptions, earthquakes, violent tornados, three huge, huge floods (Noah’s flood was probably one of those.)  It must have been that the gods were punishing them for their sins, so sacrificing animals and humans was believed to be necessary for thousands of years. Also, many ancient culture humans believed their (in my opinion, ridiculous) gods needed sacrificed humans and animals for nourishment ongoing.

In these present times, with an incredible variety of nourishing foods available, humans do not need to kill animals to be well nourished.  But, what has been going on in any culture for many years, and what is popular, can be extremely powerful.  I can remember being raised on a typical American diet (meat, potatoes, and vegetables mainly).  We were never taught to think of that meat that we ate daily had been the actual body of a living, feeling, sensate being, who could feel pain and suffering, and who did not want to die any more than we did.  I believe it never occurred to most of us to think that way.  It was all just “meat,” it was put on our plates, we liked it, and we ate.  We believed that grownups knew how best to run things, and meat eating was obviously “ok” with everybody around us, in the only culture we knew.  Now, a great many of us know better, but too many are still uninformed, or just plain devoid of empathy.

I am personally not convinced that all the animal mistreatment and killing that goes on today are caused by true scapegoating alone.  Meat eaters who believe themselves to be “good” people, kind and all, have been thoroughly conditioned to think of meat as “just meat.”  Also, it could be possible that the massive profits gathered in by the huge factory farms are not due to scapegoating necessarily, but to all-encompassing greed.

 To me, the greatest sin done to animals throughout history and presently is to ANNILILATE THEIR PERSONHOOD, TO TAKE AWAY THEIR CONSCIOUSNESS, THEIR INTELLIGENCE, THEIR FEELINGS, THEIR GOALS, THEIR CONCERN FOR THEIR FAMILIES, THEIR WAYS OF RELATING TO ONE ANOTHER, THEIR HABITATS, AND ETC.  Animals are more like humans than most humans want them to be.  Refusing to acknowledge their very alive personalities makes them DIFFERENT from humans, inferior, of little importance, expendable, I read that the way investigative medical men initially learned to understand how the heart, the lungs, and other internal organs actually worked was to “spread eagle” a dog, tie him firmly, and cut him open, fully conscious, and “mess around in there.”  They believed dogs were incapable of feeling pain, so what if the dog screamed and screamed.  So, to typical humans, it does not really matter if animals are killed, eaten, abused, or whatever.  They are not believed to be really persons and don’t feel or know anything anyway.   Seems like most people just don’t want to be bothered by animal concerns. Awful!   

According to anthropologists who studied antiquity, hunter gatherers viewed themselves as being part of nature, and animals were thought of as being similar to them.  The North American Indians were very respectful towards animals, and only killed as many as they needed, to sustain their lives.  On the other hand, when humans started being agriculturalists and forming cities and civilizations, they no longer felt a part of nature, but above nature, and above the animals.  The animals became ignorant brutes, to be used, killed, exploited, whatever.  What humans wanted then was full control – DOMINION!

To add to the animals’ sorrows, being so different from humans makes them ok targets to scapegoat.  Animal scapegoating, where humans take their own negative feelings and discontents out on defenseless animals goes on every day. Mean, angry scapegoaters are in so many varied environments.  I’ve read that in the factory farms, workers play football with piglets, cruelly tossing them from guy to guy or slamming them against a wall.  Turkeys reportedly endure excruciating abuse from workers.  There seems to be no end to the different horrific ways mankind scapegoats horses, donkeys, wild animals, exotic birds, on and on. Then, too, animals are there, it seems, to make money for people.  If they can’t make money, they are of no use and should be gotten rid of, being in the way.  Seems to me, a case could be made for ALL animal abuse and killing to be scapegoating, in that if people did not have callous minds and hearts, they would go into some other business!  In America, thousands of lions, tigers, and other exotic animals are abused, starved, tortured, kept in basements and garages, and put in “canned hunt” enclosures, to be shot by rich ignoramuses, with no chance for defense or escape.

My purpose here is not to list and explain all the horrendous ways animals are harmed.  Such a list would be incredibly long.  But, one factor stands out in my mind as being pivotal in swaying whether certain humans are either cruel or nice to animals. That factor is the degree to which they perceive animals to be DIFFERENT from them (and vastly inferior), or SIMILAR to them. Those who see them as different are more likely to abuse them.  Those who see them as similar are aware of their value as creatures, deserving of respect and kind stewardship. Moreover, those who perceive animals as basically quite different from humans are likely to believe they are above nature and the cosmos. What is “out there,” in the natural world, is there for them to use and exploit, as they desire.  They have an arrogant orientation to all around them. Those who view animals as similar are more likely to conceive of themselves as creatures among creatures.  They feel at home in the cosmos.  They have a humble attitude and their role in live is motivated by stewardship. Of course, kind, humble people are more likely to have been raised in kind, rational homes.  They are not likely to have been scapegoated as they grew up.  The converse is also true, where those individuals who were sadly scapegoated in dysfunctional homes, schools, and neighborhoods become the next generation of animal scapegoaters.   

A Prayer For Animals

Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals

Especially for animals who are suffering;

For animals that are overworked, underfed, and cruelly treated;

For all wistful creatures in captivity that beat their wings against bars;

For any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry;

For all that must be put death

We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity;

And for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion

And gentle hands and kindly words

Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals,

And so to share the blessings of the merciful.  (Author unknown).

REFERENCE

Watson, Peter.  The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature In The Old World and In The New.  Harper Collins Publishers (New York, 2011).

COPYRIGHT 2015 Dr. Joyce  - The Caring Heart

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