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July 16, 2012: Do we love (other) animals more than humans?

Originally posted on this blog.

A friend of a friend recently told me that he doesn't trust vegetarians because, in his words, "they like animals more than humans". I'm not sure what the exact statistics would be for this type of thing, but I agree that there are some vegetarians, vegans, and animal rights activists who do view humanity rather bleakly. This phenomenon often occurs in those who have woken up to animal suffering (a very positive thing) but have not yet realized the negative weight that violence, hate, and anger carry.

First off, it is important to realize how unfair our current treatment of other animals is. Some people understand this from a theoretical point of view, while others really begin to empathize with the suffering of animals. In the latter case, the more one begins to empathize with the suffering, the more painful it becomes to witness it. The pain often turns to anger, - anger at the people who are too cruel, too uncaring, and too ignorant to stop killing animals and making them suffer. This is an understandable reaction. Most of us, when we see a bully beating up on a weaker child will do something to stop the bully. Noone likes bullies. Noone likes tyrants. Noone likes those who impose their will on the weak and the innocent. This is how people who have reached a higher level of empathy feel about the animals that are being abused in the world today. Many people, due to their belief that we somehow have a right to use and abuse other animals, will not understand this, and will view this type of empathy as "extreme". The truth of the matter is that there is nothing extreme about empathizing with the needless suffering of innocent beings, and nothing strange about becoming disillusioned with humanity after being exposed to case upon case upon case of cruelty and abuse of animals by humans.

Having said all that, while we understand the above-mentioned phenomenon, we at EFFA always remind people not to go down the path of hatred and violence. We believe in cause and effect, and that negative actions (and emotions) will have negative consequences. Hatred is a negative emotion, so whenever we spew out hatred, there will be negative consequences. It is important to act to affect change, but to do this in the most positive way possible, - to help animals without creating more negativity. We believe in animal rights, but we also believe that by improving how we interact with other animals, we improve our own lives as well. By helping animals, we are also helping ourselves. After all, by following an Effaist way of life, by not causing, encouraging, or partaking in the suffering of other animals (this includes eating meat), we minimize the negative consequences of this suffering, thereby creating a better world for all of us.

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