By Brennan Browne on Thomas Paines Corner
Each day around this nation, and indeed the world, one can find endless stories of horrific animal cruelty–torture and murder so vile it defies imagination–conceived of and carried out by kids as young as 3 years old. There appears to be a proliferation of fresh-faced psychopaths, spawning faster than the poisonous spores of a Frankenstenian experiment gone awry. Where and how does such evil take root?
To me, the answer is simple–yet, multifaceted.
The most obvious cause for such blatant disregard for life, is lack of compassion and empathy passed on from parent to child. Generations of individuals perpetuating cruelty toward non-humans based on a multitude of flawed and erroneous notions: Religious bias — Judeo/Christianity’s mainstream and exceedingly rancorous belief that animals were put here to [ab]use and consume; tradition, culture, and deceptive, fraudulent, pseudo-scientific propaganda, i.e., humans “require” animal testing and experimentation for our benefit [yet, an ounce of common sense will lead one to the very real conclusion that the only legitimate "testing" begins in earnest, the first day these drugs and medical devices are released to the public.
Hundreds of thousands of humans die or are irreparably damaged by animal tested, FDA approved drugs/medical devices/procedures every single year--figures which the public is never allowed to see]. And a general acceptance that non-humans are inferior to us and thus deserve whatever demonic behavior we decide to impose upon them. [Another unfounded bias propped up by the ubiquitous "dominion/superiority" theory, which even secularists conveniently use as an excuse to abuse/murder non-human animals.]
This, in light of the fact that few studies have ever been done which place emphasis on the intrinsic value of non-humans, themselves. The overwhelming majority of studies conducted using animals as subjects, are based solely on how they can be exploited for man’s benefit. Given this reality, how can human beings state with unequivocal certainty that animals do not function on a level equal to–yet different from ours? Should animals continue to be forced to suffer due to man’s own indifference and ineptitude at being unable or unwilling to decipher their intellectual capacities, emotional and psychological depth, needs and complexities?
These glaring societal prejudices easily become “fact” in the minds of children when they remain unchallenged by parents, teachers, clergy, government officials and peers. The same ingrained, nefarious habits of ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’ consistently take preference over compassion, common decency and basic logic. Our society condones and perpetuates these backward attitudes as kids move through the educational system and are further continuously indoctrinated by a violent and callous media.
A five-year old has the ability to subconsciously process this perverted belief system, and thus accepts the actions of the ‘majority’ as the truth if s/he is not taught otherwise. When there is no healthy [altruistic, non-violent] model of societal behavior for kids to draw upon, then the consequences should be obvious–a child who eventually acts out what s/he has been taught–VIOLENCE. Yet, in our society, this connection is totally overlooked. Why? Because the sickest parts of ourselves as human beings go completely unrecognized by us.
Parents and other authority figures have taught the child how to successfully ‘compartmentalize’ violence based on his/her own “level of consequence.” S/he immediately understands, by observation, that certain living beings can be victimized and murdered without repercussions while others are off limits. This facilitates a society which continues to descend into widespread psychopathy, where there is increasing evidence that those lines–between good and evil–have not only been erased, but reversed. We are a species constantly convincing ourselves that whatever we do to those who are powerless against us, is justified, and that justification becomes the license to conduct ourselves in the most monstrously vile ways possible.
Instead of learning our lessons from the tragic events of Columbine, Virginia Tech and multiple other graphic displays of just how demented our society has become, we scratch our collective, clueless heads. And while it becomes fodder for discussion, unfortunately the REAL problem is never addressed. Instead, the media fuels the exact same insanity when it panders to the most disturbed, hostile segments of a society which continues to promote hunting programs for preschoolers—gun-toting toddlers void of the capability to fully comprehend suffering and death; preteens in 4-H programs, taught that non-humans are nothing more than meat to be sold to the highest bidder, where greed continuously takes precedence over empathy or ethics and sentient beings are objectified as ‘products.’ And now, school systems which have hit bottom by introducing a new obscenity, so called “survival” classes, teaching impressionable minds that it’s acceptable for both teachers and students to partake in the torture and killing of fully complex beings–TOGETHER. Legitimizing even further, the invisibility of non-humans, as unlimited in their individuality and capacity for suffering, as any human.
As if this despicable behavior isn’t generating enough moral ambiguity, it is the very individuals which these kids often admire and want to emulate–their teachers–who are guiding them toward reprehensible, sociopathic, murderous behavior.
Programs which promote cruelty and death have absolutely NO business within school curriculums or anywhere else for that matter. If society is to survive and advance, it is imperative that Humane Education programs become part of every child’s schooling. We must work toward completely ridding society and the educational system of programs/behavior designed to desensitize kids to the suffering of non-humans. Unless and until this happens, we will continue churning out monsters devoid of all feeling–and hastening our own destruction in the process.