Martin Luther King Day Reflection
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Martin Luther King Day Reflection

In honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I offer the following quotation from Dr. King:
We will continue to despise people, until we have recognized, loved, and accepted what is despicable in ourselves.Ē (Quoted by Jean Vanier in ďThe Wisdom of TendernessĒ interview, On Being  Podcast, 8/22/13.)
We all have character traits and past deeds of which we are ashamed. They make us feel unworthy of Godís love and forgiveness. One way to address this problem is to find reasons why we, despite our shortcomings, are better than other individuals. King astutely recognized that our contempt of other people is largely inspired by our disregard for ourselves. I think also applies to human attitudes toward nonhumans. If we are a pinnacle of Creation, we must be worthy of Godís loving attention, and in order for humans to be the pinnacle of Creation we must be superior to nonhumans. Of course, this view presumes great limitations in Godís power to love the beings who God has created.
The first step is recognition. Many people canít even identify what it is about themselves that they despise. This leads to a general sense of vulnerability and unease and a strong defensive reflex to lash out at anyone who seems to be uncovering the hidden shame. We often donít want to identify those shortcomings which, if they came to light in our consciousness, would make us feel ashamed. This, I think, is a major reason that churches donít want to discuss animal issues. If people confronted their complicity in the horrific treatment of nonhumans, they would likely feel ashamed. They resist the messenger, because they donít want to hear the message.
In the next two essays, I will explore loving and accepting what we despise in ourselves.

Go on to: How Can We Love and Accept What We Despise in Ourselves? part 1
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents

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