Anger and Values
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

Anger and Values

Sentiment inspires action, but anger can be a debilitating emotion. Anger has its roots in a sense of powerlessness, and powerlessness leads to depression and apathy. It is understandable that animal advocates would feel angry in the face of massive abuse of innocent creatures, but perhaps there are other ways to view the situation that would favor a different emotional response.

Some might find it helpful to be mindful that our choices often reflect a balance between competing desires and beliefs. Our lives are full of contradictions, because our values conflict with each other. For example, we want to have gainful employment, but transportation to work contributes to global warming. We want to be kind and compassionate, but we might not be eager to take in millions of refugees who desperately seek asylum.

We do have some absolute values that trump all other considerations. We oppose rape, even if that means that some people fail to have full sexual gratification. Some people absolutely oppose abortion, while others think it should be allowed in certain situations because criminalizing abortion conflicts with other values.

When it comes to animal issues, some people are absolutist and some are not. There are good reasons to oppose animal mistreatment, even in those rare situations in which significant human benefits might accrue. But, many people do not share this ethic. Most see animal welfare as one of many considerations. They sometimes oppose animal abuse, but at other times donít find it terribly objectionable.

To be sure, self-interest seems to play a large role in which kinds of animal mistreatment people find acceptable, and Iím not trying to excuse complicity in animal abuse. However, people differ in which values they regard as absolute. Rightly or wrongly, most people donít completely agree with animal rights. With this in mind, next week I will consider how we can effectively advocate for animals.

Go on to: Advocating for Animals, part 1
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