Our Silence About Animal Abuse Promotes Abuse of Humans
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Our Silence About Animal Abuse Promotes Abuse of Humans
Comments by Rod Preece - 27 Aug 2003

In my view, Deanna, on the whole Gandhi did an exemplary job of following the principle of ahimsa - non-harm, non-injury - a principle he adopted from the Jaina, and one which is identical to the Judaic dictum of Bal Taschit - do not destroy - and that of the influential Desert Father of the early Christian Church, Abbot Moses: "A man ought to do no harm to any" - which is derived from Isaiah 11:9: "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain." The principle is identical in all three traditions - expressed in all, and lived up to in none. I am not sure why, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, we find it necessary constantly to refer to the Jain principle without acknowledging we have an identical principle of our own.

Did Gandhi always live by the principle? He came close - although, notoriously, he did not object to the killing of poisonous snakes on his South African estate. My point would be that he certainly came no closer to following the principle of ahimsa than, say, St. Anthony, Leonardo da Vinci, John Oswald, George Nicholson, Henry Salt, Edward Carpenter, George Bernard Shaw, etc, etc., etc., - and, I would argue, he didn't get quite as close as any of them.

The extent to which he was sinful lay in proclaiming a principle - that he would not harm another being to save his own life - and then, when his own life was at stake, breaking that principle. And, in this respect, I would suggest Shaw, Carpenter and Salt were rather more faithful to their principles than was Gandhi.

Rod

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