By Craig Cline
As adults, we are typically concerned with what we call “human rights.” We consider ourselves to be humanitarians because we willingly deal with the needs of mankind in general and the alleviation of human suffering in particular.
Interestingly, the word “humane” is derived from the root word human. When we act humanely, we are seen as having the good qualities of humans, such as compassion, kindness, benevolence, and mercy.
In an ideal world, each of us humans is humane — and collectively, all of humanity exhibits the qualities that flow out of the word humane.
The Golden Rule comes to mind, whereby we are taught that we should behave towards others as we would have others behave towards us.
Notice that the word “others” is commonly taken to mean other humans — other people — regardless of their color, creed, religion, national origin, and so on.
In examining that word, we note that others are likely to be of a different character or quality from ourselves. However, their difference from us does not mean that we are entitled to treat them differently from how we ourselves expect to be treated, in accordance with The Golden Rule.
Now let’s take a big step forward, as “humane humans,” and let ourselves see that the word “others” as used in the dictionary definition of The Golden Rule can and should include ALL members of what we call the animal kingdom, scientifically known as Animalia, and not just the human component of that kingdom.
Common sense alone holds that animals would — if they only could — ask us humans not to make them the victims of human-imposed cruelty, abuse, pain, suffering, and premature death.
Logic also holds that since we humans would not ourselves willingly suffer any such human-imposed afflictions, we therefore ought not impose them upon non-humans. If we do, whether we abuse animals directly or indirectly, we are violating the very spirit of The Golden Rule.
Sadly, so far in human history at least, even religious people have leaned on the presumption that “Man” has dominion over the animals — that we can control them, and by extension, treat them however we choose, no matter how much we besmirch The Golden Rule in so doing.
We “humane humans” ought not be a part of that process, either directly or indirectly. The fact is, we do not have to be part of it; we can instead choose to abandon it. We can follow the essence of our own conscience and apply The Golden Rule to all creatures great and small in our human interactions with them.
Among the people who have most broadly expanded their moral horizons are those who have become vegans. These humane humans live by The Golden Rule every day.
Think about it. Would YOU like to be a so-called “food animal”? Because your answer is doubtless an emphatic “NO,” may I ask that you reflect on a mightily meaningful quote by the renowned animal issues activist, Henry Spira: “If you see something that’s wrong, you’ve got to do something about it.”
We humans are the most powerful members of the animal kingdom. Let us unite in both seeing “animal wrongs” and in acting to DO SOMETHING about them. Let’s become vegans and apply our Golden Rule to ALL animals, humans and non-humans alike.Φ
Craig Cline of Salem, Oregon, is an animal issues advocate who is continuing to evolve toward becoming a “Humaneitarian” and helping to right “animal wrongs” as part of that evolution.