An Animalistic Hypocrisy
Who hasn’t come across the call to boycott the European Soccer Cup? According to several animal rights organizations’ reports, thousands of street dogs and cats are being caught, killed, and disposed of. The soccer boycott is supposed to protest these activities.
This protest is laudable; however, if we are talking about mistreating animals, shouldn’t we boycott all 34 game days of the national league too? Even if cats and dogs are treated well, things look worse for other animals. For example, there are thousands of cows born in cages, which are built from iron bars, neon light, and suction devices. The cows are predestined to stay their whole, very short lives in these places. The only time when these animals will see the sun is on the way from the farm to the cattle truck and on the way from the cattle truck to the slaughterhouse. We don’t want to go into any further detail to what happens to these millions of cows, pigs, and chickens in these institutions.
When average-educated citizens or politicians are asked how this contradiction is justifiable, the first thing you get is a surprised look indicating, “What’s the point of that question?” Very often the answer is: “Well, isn’t it clear? Some animals are domestic animals and others are farm animals.”
Well, just one moment!
Interestingly, among English speakers the word “pet” is preferred to “domestic animal.” Because we want to pet and cuddle these animals, they are allowed to live, while others, whom we want to eat, are carried to the slaughterhouse. In other words, whether or not an animal matches the style of my sofa decides its destiny: life or death.
Doesn’t this remind us of old gladiator movies? After a poor gladiator has fought bravely in the arena and has killed all of his opponents (well, involuntarily), all of the spectators’ eyes turn to the emperor, who sits on a pedestal with a well cushioned chair. If he enjoyed the fight, he will raise his thumb and the gladiator will be a free man. If the emperor didn’t enjoy the spectacle his thumb will go down and a herd of hungry lions will be released to rip the exhausted gladiator to pieces. Some emperors were especially liked because they sometimes let the audience decide the fighter’s destiny. In this case, the gladiator needed a majority of thumbs up to survive.
According to some Greek philosophers, a government that arbitrarily decides the destiny of its subjects is called a tyranny – the worst form of government. In this case, the population is helplessly subjected to the dictator’s temper. Historical sources tell us that dictators like Mao or Stalin had arbitrarily killed some of their ministers and private doctors. A single wrong word or look was sufficient.
Today’s society should seriously question whether it has accepted a similar way of tyrannical consciousness. There is no philosophical or ethical reason why one animal is declared a family member and the other is just a production unit. If devoted meat eaters are asked this question, due to their lack of knowledge, they usually just answer: “Because it’s tasty!” This thoughtless answer, however, is selfish and cruel to the highest degree. In the same way, the old emperors used the argument “Because I like it” to justify their abuse of gladiators.
Even if there were a difference between so-called domestic and farm animals, where does humankind draw the line? Is he allowed to decide on his own behalf whether an animal is meant to be loved or meant to be killed? Whenever Westerners see photographs of a dog slaughterhouse in Peking they are deeply disgusted; pictures of a German slaughterhouse; however, don’t seem to touch them at all.
In such situations, sometimes you can get the impression that cats and dogs have something, which cows and pigs do not have – a soul. But if dogs and cats have a soul – which most pet keepers are convinced of – why don’t cows, pigs and chickens have one as well? Obviously, there seems to be great confusion or perhaps ignorance – maybe it’s just cruel, tyrannical consciousness.
There were times when humans, who thought themselves to be the “white master race,” had stated that Blacks, Indians and other people have no soul. They used this argument to justify the enslavement, killing, and even genocide of other races. Nowadays this kind of racism is strictly condemned in Western countries.
But who knows? Maybe there will be a society 200 years from now, which terms today’s society as the cruel “speciesists,” meaning humans who declare their own species as tyrants over all other kinds of species. Maybe this “speciesism” will be condemned in 200 years as racism is renounced today.
According to the philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, the soul is respected in all living beings, not just within a single race or species.
vidya-vinaya-sampane brahmane gavi hastini suni caiva sva-pake ca panditah sama-darsinah
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]” (BG 5.18).
But let’s go back to soccer. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to watch the soccer cup in the back yard, happily grilling vegetarian sausages rather than boycotting this cup with a schnitzel on their plates believing that they have just done something beneficial for the protection of animal rights?