Harmful Misunderstandings about Animals
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org


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

Harmful Misunderstandings about Animals

Recently I discussed how people tend to project onto nonhumans those desires and practices about which people tend to feel ashamed, for example certain sexual desires or violent impulses. These projections lead to misunderstandings about nonhumans - misunderstandings that denigrate nonhumans and facilitate animal exploitation and abuse. These projections also lead to dangerous misunderstandings about humans.

Attributing unwanted sexual or violent desires to our “animal” nature elevates what people mean by their essential “human nature.” This vaunted notion of what it means to be human can easily be a means by which fellow humans are denigrated and abused. Those wishing to dominate other people can justify their self-serving activities by claiming that their victims engage in “base,” “animal-like” sexual practices of violent activities.

I think a more accurate assessment is that sexuality is a universal phenomenon that is “base” only when innocent individuals are harmed. Similarly, we all experience violent impulses, and this is only problematic when we allow our passions to over-ride our intellect and our fundamental values. Perhaps acknowledging our commonality with nonhumans, which should not be a source of either arrogance or embarrassment, will encourage humility and compassion for all of God’s creation.

Go on to: Comment on: “Muddy Boots and a Cassock: A Commentary on Laudato Si, the Enclyclical Letter of Pope Francis” by Dr. Philip G. Hill
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