Editorial by J.R. Hyland - from Nov/Dec 1997 Humane Religion Newsletter
The article about Albert Schweitzer on page 5 of this issue of Humane
Religion tells the story of a man who escaped the conditioning of a
world that usually succeeds in eroding the compassion and concern for
all creatures which characterized so many young children.
The conditioning that desensitizes a child to the suffering of other
creatures is carried out in a thousand subtle, and not-so-subtle, ways.
It goes on in the home, at play, and in school. It comes about from
peer pressure and from parental pressure.
The lies begin the first time children question the suffering of another
creature. They are told it doesn't hurt the cow when its flesh is
seared with a branding iron. That the pig does not feel the thick, iron
ring forced through its tender snout. That the neighbor's dog who lies
chained outside all day does not suffer from the heat, the cold, or the
loneliness. That the bird who was formed to soar through the sky does
not mind having its wings crippled and being forced to live in a cage.
And after children have been assured that it is "natural" to eat the
flesh of other creatures - that God created them to be killed and eaten
by man - they can be coaxed into the next phase of desensitization.
They can begin to take an active part in the cruelty and violence that
characterizes a fallen world.
They are taught that killing other creatures is a recreational
activity. They are taken to the woods to maim or kill the small animals
who live there and told it is a way of communing with nature - or with
They are taken fishing and told that it is a relaxing pastime. And when
the "catch" thrashes about, frantically trying to stay alive, they are
told that fish cannot feel anything, although their suffering is
In the face of all evidence to the contrary, the child is taught to
believe a lie. This childhood conditioning produces adults who accept
the abuse and slaughter of other creatures as an inescapable fact of
life. It is an acceptance built on a lie and it is the foundation on
which desensitized men and women build a world of cruelty and violence
that spares neither human nor animal beings.
It is a world that has "exchanged the truth of God for a lie."
NOBEL PEACE PRICE ACCEPTANCE SPEECH by Albert Schweltzer
[The] compassion in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its
full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not
limit itself to mankind. Ancient ethics had not his depth, this
strength of conviction, but beside it there now stands a new ethic -
that of respect for all life, whose validity is more and more widely
Rev. Hyland's article is for all who love
God. We need to keep in mind that He will judge us according to our
deeds (eg. Mt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; and Rev. 2:23, 22:12). Their Creator
(and ours) put them in our care.
Are we like Esau, the hunter, who
sold his birthright? The writer of Hebrews warns us not to be
immoral like Esau (see Hebrews 12:16,17).
It's not too late to change your actions
with the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit. May God give you a
holy heart full of kindness and peace to all.
J. Fredericks, M.A., L.P.C.
Jan Fredericks is a Christian Educator
and Licensed Counselor.