WHAT is our most precious possession?
FAIR COW: Animals suffer, as do humans, when disaster strikes.
As we’ve witnessed over the past week, the thing most treasured in life is life itself.
Many of those plucked from the roofs of houses and cars in Queensland’s devastating floods lost their homes and possessions but, when rescued, the sentiment expressed by all was — we are alive and that’s all that matters.
Yes, life is indeed our most treasured possession but it’s not only humans who cherish it. Nonhumans feel the same way and, like us, will do everything in their power to preserve it.
During the coverage of the floods we saw footage of horses desperately trying to stay afloat as they nudged up to the tin roof of a submerged house. In Ipswich, a cow succeeded in climbing onto a shingle roof. Sixteen racehorses in a barn in the Lockyer Valley trod water for seven hours until the water level subsided enough for them to stand and a cow swam 12 km from Rockhampton to North Keppel Island only to die later from shock.
In New Zealand’s Rai Valley earlier this month, nursing cows, with water swirling around their bellies, saved their calves from drowning by forming a circle around them and holding them upright. This demonstrates that cows value the lives of their calves just as much as their own.
Clearly life is precious to all sentient beings. Consequently, isn’t it heartless of us to so casually and flippantly rob so many animals of their lives without a second thought?
Isn’t it heartless of us to take their precious lives for something as fickle as taste which will be over and forgotten just seconds after we’ve swallowed that steak or hamburger?
The animals who we send to the slaughterhouse know only too well that something dire is about to happen to them. They smell the blood. They hear the panicked cries of those ahead of them. They know that they are about to die and they are absolutely petrified — just as we would be if we were in their situation.
They try to turn and run but there is no way out. They froth at the mouth, their eyes bulge, they drool and their noses run so profusely they have difficulty breathing. Their deaths are painful.
But even if death was humane, even if it was painless, would it be fair to kill them knowing how precious life is to them?
If someone wanted to kill us today and assured us that it would be painless would we be happy? Of course we wouldn’t.
We would want to live and they do to. What’s more, we would have a right to live our one and only life — and this applies equally to them.
What will be the fate of the little calves who were saved from drowning by their devoted mothers? And what will be the fate of the selfless and brave mother cows?
What lies in store for the farmed animals swept away in Queensland’s raging floodwaters who, by sheer determination and an overwhelming desire to live, succeeded in surviving the ordeal?
Will they meet a worse fate than drowning at the hands of man?
Isn’t it’s time we recognised that all sentient beings— not just human beings — have a right to life?