Thursday, April 13, 2006

Taming the beast

I've always loved animals. We have three cats living with us. I hate to say "own" when referring to animals. How can you own a living thing?

I often imagine that our cats ignore the names we've given them because they consider them slave names. And sometimes I feel guilty because they are in essence captives in our home. But I rationalize that it keeps them safe and that true freedom for them in our currently human dominated planet would likely equate to an early death or a life lived in hiding (though one of our cats spends a good portion of her time under our bed).

The news seems full of so many cases of animal abuse in the Puget Sound region of late. Just last night I caught a snippet about some psychopathic kid hanging a dog from a tree. Fortunately it was rescued by a couple of other children and cut down before it choked to death.

I have no use for people of any age who torture animals. There is something fundamentally missing in their genetic make up to harm a weaker creature for recreation. And they should be culled from the human herd.

I find it interesting that nature has species that only eat plants (herbivores) and species that only eat meat (carnivores). Then there are garbage disposals of the natural world that eat just about anything in their path, animal or vegetable (omnivores). Humans are, of course, omnivores (and anyone who has watched people at a buffet will attest to the fact that humans will eat anything in their path). But does being an omnivore mean we are more evolved or just bottom feeders who walked out of the ocean because we were sick of eating plankton and left over fish?

Regardless, being an omnivore and a person who loves animals, I am tripped up by my own hypocrisy. I know the horror stories of slaughterhouses and nightmare conditions of poultry, cattle and swine raised for the sole purpose of being consumed. Yet I eat meat and I wear leather jackets, belts and shoes (albeit with many synthetic components).

It's a moral dilemma for me that could be resolved if I became a rabid vegetarian. But I know myself well enough that my road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. Until they develop a Veggie burger or tofu dog that doesn't taste like a tenderized hockey puck, I will always crave meat. And my kryptonite will always be deprivation. I can be indifferent to most things until I can't have them. Then they become my holy grail.

So I soothe my hypocritical omnivore soul by being kind to the animals I don't eat and trying to work for "humane" as possible treatment for the ones I do.

After all, I am only human.
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