Weekly Newsletter from Christian Vegetarian Association CVA - April 16, 2020
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

  1. Articles of Interest
  2. The Dangers of Speciesism
  3. All-Creatures.org Ministry

1. Articles of Interest

Below are two articles that discuss how the Coronavirus pandemic is a predictable result of humanity’s abuse of nonhumans for food. Particularly remarkable is the article by Matthew Scully (author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy), whose commentary appeared in the conservative publication National Review.

China’s Wet Markets, America’s Factory Farming
By Matthew Scully
April 9, 2020

Our Cruel Treatment of Animals Led to the Coronavirus
The conditions that lead to the emergence of new infectious diseases are the same ones that inflict horrific harms on animals
By David Benatar
April 13, 2020

2. The Dangers of Speciesism

On the surface, it would seem that speciesism – the conviction that the interests of one species automatically trump the interests of other species – is a convenient worldview. It helps justify humanity’s extreme abuse of nonhumans in farms, in laboratories, in the fashion industry, in the wild, in entertainment, and elsewhere. The costs to nonhumans are obvious. Less apparent are significant costs to humans, which can be difficult to quantify or even recognize.

One danger is that, if we countenance obvious injustice to one class of individuals, it is much easier to accept injustice toward another class of individuals. If there is an absolute moral boundary between “us” and “them,” it becomes very easy to defend mistreatment of others by classifying those individuals as “them.”

Also, our activities lead to our habits, and our habits lead to our general attitudes. If we routinely knowingly participate directly or indirectly in violence, we become more inclined to violence. Conversely, if we lived according to an ethic of nonviolence toward nonhumans, we could not imagine ourselves being violent toward fellow humans.

Perhaps the greatest danger is that, by seeing nonhumans as fundamentally different creations from humans, we lose crucial understanding of what it means to be human. Like all species, humans have distinctive features, but there is overwhelming evidence that we our sensations and emotions are similar to those of our fellow creatures. This is what one would expect as a consequence of evolution, for which there is massive scientific support. Acknowledging our similarity to nonhumans is not cause for shame but rather a welcomed opportunity to help us understand our own motivations and those of fellow humans. Human psychology reflects the need of our ancestors to survive in challenging environments; our minds are not necessarily designed to make us wiser or more moral. If we are to strive for perfection, as Jesus encouraged, we need to be aware of the human attributes that can frustrate our efforts. In particular, it is crucial that we appreciate how easy it is to be wrong when we think that self-serving choices also serve the general good.

In part because of humans’ capacity of self-deception, much evil is done in the name of the good. Humans are clearly capable of kindness and compassion as well as great evil. Next week, I will begin a series exploring questions related judgment and justice.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

3. All-Creatures.Org Ministry

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