- Essay: Animal Abuse and the Human Need for Self-Esteem
- This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
- Essay of
1. Essay: Animal Abuse and the Human Need for Self-Esteem
Last week I discussed nonhumans as scapegoats for human sins. This
week I will explore how harmfully exploiting nonhuman beings can give
people a sense of self-esteem.
A sense of self-esteem is crucial to
psychological well-being for several reasons. Among them, self-esteem
can reduce our sense of vulnerability in an unpredictable and
sometimes violent world. It can be a salve against deep-seated fears
of death, as Ernest Becker describes in The Denial of Death. People
tend to derive a sense of self-esteem when they compare favorably to
others, which has a lot to do with sibling rivalry. A problem is that
competition between people for self-esteem (for example in sports or
in the acquisition of attractive mates) is largely a zero-sum game –
one person’s self-esteem-enhancing victory comes at the expense of
another person, whose self-esteem suffers with the loss.
think, is a major reason that our culture sanctions killing nonhumans.
Hunting represents the most obvious demonstration of human superiority
over nonhumans. Many hunters particularly prize killing large and
dangerous animals, even though the contest between human and nonhuman
is hardly fair. The act of eating nonhumans is, like most human
activities, motivated by many factors. I think one factor is that
consuming the flesh of nonhumans is a statement of superiority, even
though animal advocates will point out that this is a superiority of
might and not of right.
A trapping handbook illustrates the role of
self-esteem in human exploitation of animals. It relates, “While many
youths develop interest in sports or good grades in school, some do
not when they realize that they cannot excel. . . Any young person,
regardless of social advantages, can excel and be an achiever by
catching the big fish of the day, or making a nice shot, or catching a
mink.” There will always be victims as long as the path to self-esteem
requires dominating others. Is there another path to self-esteem? I
will explore this question next week.
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.
2. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
Fear Not! I Am With You
Essay of Interest
This nice short essay asserts that, while the Bible does not
mandate that Christians be vegetarian, it does not condemn
vegetarianism nor does it endorse the wanton cruelty and disregard for
nonhuman life that typifies contemporary consumption.
Ethical Vegetarianism: A Modest Proposal by Prof. Michael Gilmour