I’ve felt frustration, angst, pain, disgust. I guess starting to love animals from the age of 5 has that effect on you. Trips to the library every weekend, leaving the gantries with at least 6 books on dolphins/whales/other animals, marveling over the amazing creatures that inhabit this world. That was my “thing”. And we’ve all had childhood “things”. Some of them follow us all the way through childhood, teenage and then some. Some we forget, moving on to newer, more exciting things. Loving animals and having respect for them was my “thing”. It continues to be, and probably will for the rest of my living days.
See we all have such things. And I don’t like to feel that my “thing” is more moral or better than yours. I try my best to respect every person’s “thing”, hard as it may be for some (gaming, expensive fashion, and other things). You wouldn’t have to feel as adamant as I did about animal rights to have me consider you a friend or respect you as a human being. All I ask is for you to not be ignorant to other people’s “things”.
Do you really need to be an animal lover before you can respect animal rights?
“You’re either active or inactive.”
I see the reactions people give me when they hear I volunteer at the SPCA. Then I see what follows after that reaction when they hear I’ve actually completed my 80 hours of compulsory volunteering way back in 2006, that my current volunteering is because I truly care. It’s okay that you don’t identify with my passion or see a need to volunteer for such causes. But at the very least, you can care for the plight of such animals the next time you decide to go to the pet shop or breeder to get a pet, and consider adopting one instead.
You don’t have to spend $8 to get a ticket to a documentary on animal rights. But you can take out 3 minutes to sign a petition to help stop the barbaric killing of helpless dolphins in Japan. You don’t have to act up and get crazy affected when you see infringement of animal rights. But I’m sure you can try to understand why there are such things as animal rights, why we need them, and what the fuss is all about. And not partake (knowingly or unknowingly) in infringing on these rights.
The problem is, we’re all too lazy. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, why plan for the journey now?” It’s easier to leave things as they are as long as they don’t harm you. Or at least not yet.
“You can never depend on the governments or institutions to do anything.”
We’ve all heard that before. In political science class, in discussions over coffee with friends, in blogs, forums. And truth be told, we really can’t blame the governments. They have to consider so many things that they end up being able to do nothing. Try to stop the whale and dolphin trade, and incur the wrath of those who depend on it for livelihood. Not to forget political lobbying, corruption, and plain inefficiencies of being too large a body. The only change that can ever come is with ordinary people like us, standing up against the giant big bad evils that we don’t quite see eye to eye with.
But then the perennial problem returns. We’re just too comfortable in our little zones to move out. Not until a threat encroaches our well-being. And we’re just too consoled and lodged in our little cognitive dissonance holes to ever think that anything can truly threaten us. There’s no such thing as global warming, dolphins & whales won’t become extinct regardless of the incessant killing, “animals were created for our use”.
“They are holding on to their nationality, to cultural imperialism. Don’t tell us what to do.”
That nicely summarizes it all. Our predicament, our situation, what’s going on around us. It all boils down to culture, to what we’re used to, to what we’ve grown up our whole lives knowing. Letting that go would be abandoning all we’ve ever known. How could anyone bring themselves to repeatedly stab a dolphin that’s wriggling in pain? How could anyone fathom the idea of continuing to consume exotic meats, knowing the horror that goes into procuring them? Once you’re used to it, taught to think of it as necessary and nothing out of the ordinary, everything goes. It’s hard to blame anyone once you bring in the argument of culture. But it’s hard to not blame anyone knowing that “culture” is ultimately carried on by us. We allow it to perpetuate, do we not?
Sharks’ fins are tasteless, yet people continue consuming and serving them at wedding banquets and other functions. The market for dolphin meat is really almost non-existent, yet farmers insist on carrying on, mercury-levels and all. Climates are going crazy and natural disasters now happen like it’s everyday affair, yet people still think there’s no such thing as global warming, or that it’s no big deal.
When you think of it, habits, cultures and cognitive dissonance are such scary things. It’s what allowed Nazi, Germany to have been. And while almost all of us react to the thought of Jewish concentration camps as repulsive and immoral, not the same amount of us think of animal abuse and infringement of animal rights the same way. Because we’re “the superior race” and all that matters. Even if that was your argument, when would it hit you that ecosystems and food-chains are titled those for a reason? Or do you think we’re so superior that we’ll find our ways out of anything, even extinction of important links in our ecosystem and food-chains?
I’ve felt frustration, angst, pain, disgust. But today, I feel helplessness. For once in my 22 years of life, I feel fatalistic. That nothing I can do will ever change anything. 64 years on from Jewish concentration camps, governments continue covering up heinous acts, people continue telling themselves “it’s okay”. Interesting how far we’ve come. Depressing how I’m beginning to consider that it may be better if the world would end in my lifetime. And that if I could ask God just one question, it’d be “Do you ever regret creating us?”
Yet I hang on. “You’re either active or inactive.” Even if I have to barter with friends to get them to sign petitions for animal rights, even if I offend half of humankind with my opinions, even if nothing comes out of it. I’ll do it because I’ve been doing it for the past 17 years. I’ll do it because it’s my “thing”.
I can only hope you may one day care to join me.
Starting with this:
Unless we stop them, the fishermen and organizations profiting from the killing will continue to kill over 20,000 dolphins in Japan each year. With the most inhumane methods. They start again this month, and will continue to do so every September. Unless we stop them.