By Dr. Joyce,
The Caring Heart
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living
creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth
after his kind and it was so.
That land where “only humans really count” is called Christiandom. It is a land taught and promoted by the church, with rare exceptions. I have had members of Christiandom tell me directly that animals were given to us by God to use and to eat. That is what they are for!! They are beasts of burden, source of clothing and building materials (tepees), and food for people. That’s all.
Historically, quite a few well-known thinkers, religiously and philosophically, maintained that animals have no souls. They were not supposed to feel pain or misery like people do, so it doesn’t matter how they are treated or that they die horribly.
Basically, unless one counts respect for God’s creation as an important message in the Bible, the Bible itself does not talk about the importance of animal’s intelligence and need for well-being and decent lives, except for some exceptions. The great preponderance of the Bible message is about humans, who were created in God’s image. Animals were not, then, created in God’s image. What I am saying here is that those in Christiandom, throughout the ages and now, who have minimized animals’ persons and importance, have done so because the Bible also minimizes animals compared to humans. In that sense, they were trying their best to interpret the Scriptures accurately, even though I certainly do not agree with their conclusions or practices in the area of animals.
Most Christians today appear to be members of Christiandom, and are therefore focused on only humans as being all that important to God (or to anything else). When someone points out to one of them how animals are mistreated, starving, whatever, a usual response is “…But people are starving, sick, neglected, whatever, too, and we have to take care of people first.” Such Christians have been trained their whole lives to believe meat eating is just fine, and even have a hard time connecting that pork chop on their plate with a living, feeling, precious pig. I know that when I was a kid, I never thought of that meat as actually coming from an animal PERSON, with intelligence, skills, feelings, personality, and the desire to live their lives with well-being, as we do.
…And the churches, with rare exceptions, are still promoting animal exploitation through their dinners, through their approval of hunting and hunters, and through their ignoring of animals welfare in all their sermons, teachings, practices, and whatever. Members of Christiandom, mainly, will believe whatever their pastors tell them, and will emphasize whatever their pastors say is important. They are “sheepels,” who have not been brought up to think independently, for the most part.
Much, much patience is needed and prolonged efforts carried out to even begin to change the mindsets and practices of the “sheepels” of Christiandom. What would help wonderfully is if such people had the opportunity to really get to know and be close to some animals over time. Then, they would realize the animals are as much true persons as they are and they would love them and not want them harmed. But, that’s hard too, because so many people who have been around animals all their lives still have never known or truly loved them. They never really connected.
So, seems like the conclusion is that those of us who really do care about each and every one of those precious, dear animals out there need to just KEEP ON KEEPING ON!! We need to keep letting others know our values and our practices when we can. We need to keep not participating in supporting animal exploiting industries. But, we need to support animal rescues and other animal welfare organizations. We need to let our legislators know what we want and to vote for those who stand up for the animals in their political decisions. We can feed our own animals very nutritious food and not food filled with “awful stuff.” (Good food costs more, but I’m not going to feed my dogs and cat chickens’ beaks, or animal digest or other disgusting ingredients.)
There is much those who truly love animals can do to support animal causes. I do not think we should simply be mad at those people who do not share our views and who continue to eat and wear animals. Seems to me we need to realize each is a victim of his or her own culture and upbringing (as are we). We are all prisoners of how our very brains were formed to process information, and it takes a lot of time to change how our brains function, usually lots of time even under the best circumstances. New neuronal channels need to be grown for real changes to take place.
Also, simply being mad at or disgusted with others will not make friends out of them. In order for us to convince them to change to the positive regarding animals, maybe we need to show them our friendship and caring of them, too. (For example, PETA seemed to go really overboard in the hostile aggressive way earlier, which damaged their reputation). Even while most definitely wanting them to stop exploiting animals in any way, we can still show caring of them as individuals.
Being an example to others can be very powerful, even when change cannot be noticed for a long time.