Animal Writes
From 9 November 2003 Issue

LoraKim's Lore
by Rev. LoraKim Joyner, DVM, UFETA President
[email protected]

-Reprinted with permission from the newsletter of the Unitarian Universalists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals-

A major concern about supporting nonhuman animal justice issues that I often hear expressed is that human problems merit more attention than nonhuman problems. Maybe you have faced this in your own congregation when people ask - "Why should I worry about chickens when war is about to break out in Iraq?"

Indeed it is difficult to decide to spend time and resources on nonhuman animals when humans are suffering so. In fact, this dilemma was part of the reason why I discontinued practicing veterinary medicine. I was an avian (bird) wildlife veterinarian for many years and worked in countries where there was rapid and imminent threat of the demise of bird populations and species.

The birds of these countries not only were threatened, but so were the people - war torn Guatemala was brutal. Often the birds I treated received better medical attention and better food than the people who were hired for $2.50 a day to take care of the birds. I soon learned that the birds didn't stand a chance if the people didn't have some hope for flourishing, because if humans are suffering, it is very difficult for them to share resources with other beings.

So I went into the Unitarian Universalist ministry, trying to find a way to continue my healing profession, but now with people as well as birds. You see, not only do I think that the birds can't make it without us, but I also think that we can't make it without the birds, and without the biodiversity that supports our ecology and nourishes our souls. I feel then that all my work with people is also helping other beings and all my work with nonhumans is helping out humans.

There is a sense of what ethicists call competing claims - we must make decisions that will help out one species more than another. But in the long run if we work with compassion for justice issues, regardless of the species or the circumstance, we are advancing all causes. In this way we are inextricably bound to one another in care and in hope.

So go help those chickens if that is where your gifts and passions intersect with the world's great needs, or go work for peace. For no matter what you do, the interdependent web will benefit, as will you, and this is of great merit.

Go on to All For Show
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