Standing Up for Animals Doesn’t Mean Ignoring Human Suffering
It’s a sad reality that animal advocates often hear people accuse them of caring more about animals than about people.
For most of us, this could not be further from the truth.
I can’t speak for all advocates, but I can certainly speak for many, including myself.
Being concerned about the suffering of any sentient being obviously means the person has a sensitivity to others and a drive to alleviate their pain.
I’ve been concerned not just about other animals, but about the human animal, as well, for as long as I can remember.
One does not preclude the other.
My heroes include Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the animal advocates I know are also very much for human rights.
Coretta Scott King, wife of MLK, Jr., was herself a vegan for the last ten years of her life. Her son, Dexter, has been a dedicated vegan/animal rights activist since 1988, saying that an appreciation for animal rights is the “logical extension” of his father’s philosophy of non-violence.
Bronson Alcott, father of Little Women author Louisa May Alcott, was an avid anti-slavery abolitionist and a vegan. The family wore only linen because cotton was the product of human slavery and wool was stolen from sheep.
Alcott recognized the wide scope of injustice in his world and it made no sense to him to campaign against human slavery while consuming the meat or milk of enslaved animals.
Personally, I’ve been a member of Care for the Child and Amnesty International for many years and have supported many other humanitarian organizations.
There’s another interesting tie-in between animal advocacy and human rights–on April 10, 1866, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded in New York City by philanthropist and diplomat Henry Bergh.
Bergh’s dramatic street rescues of mistreated horses and livestock served as a model for those working to protect abused children.
Inspired by his work, activists founded the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, with Bergh serving as one of the group’s first vice presidents.
I think that often people use the accusation that caring about animals somehow means not caring about people to simply shut down the message of animal rights.
It’s an accusation that is not well thought out.
One of the reasons I spend so much time advocating on behalf of all sentient creatures is that animal cruelty is one thing that humans can have a direct effect upon by simply changing their buying habits!
There are many things beyond our control, but choosing not to buy animal products is one powerful way to exercise the control we do have to reduce animal abuse.
I also know that while people are hands down against child abuse, as of course they should be, and most are certainly not contributing to it, they often don’t stop to consider that using animals for our desires and whims constitutes unseen abuse, even though they do not intend this.
It’s not a question of either/or, it’s a matter of both, for suffering is disturbing to both man and beast and is worthy of our utmost attention and concern.