Listen Closely to Our Words
It’s interesting that if you think about it, humans have long had a love/hate relationship with other animals.
We love our pets and we love to see wild animals we encounter, like a beautiful deer or a friendly squirrel.
But we use phrases that show our contempt for and disrespect for the animal kingdom on a regular basis.
We mistakenly perceive chickens as cowardly (not so–a mother hen will risk her life for her chicks), pigs as filthy (they roll in mud to protect their skin from sunburn, not because they want to be covered in dirt) and sheep as stupid (there is a growing body of evidence that sheep may actually possess some real smarts).
And with regards to sheep, according to sheep101.info:
Due to their strong flocking instinct and failure to act independently of one another, sheep have been universally branded “stupid.” But sheep are not stupid. Their only protection from predators is to band together and follow the sheep in front of them. If a predator is threatening the flock, this is not the time to act independently.
But even if sheep (or other animals) were dumb, that’s no reason to treat them cruelly, anymore than it would be reason to treat an unintelligent person cruelly, no?
And survival of the fittest ensures that animals remain able to adapt to their surroundings and evolve, hardly a sign of stupidity.
We also acknowledge with our common phrases that all is not well with how we treat other species, but we consider ourselves so above the animal kingdom that we’re mortified at the thought we might be treated as we actually treat them:
“We were treated like cattle (oh, the horrors!)”
“I felt like a lamb led to the slaughter”
“I was treated like a dog”
“What do I look like? An animal?”
[Well, strictly speaking, yes].
Is it any wonder, with our strong sense of superiority and general belief in our “right” to dominate other species, that we exploit animals merely for our own desires and pleasures?
For food, for fashion, for entertainment, we use the lame excuse that it’s the “circle of life”, and allow other sentient beings to be treated in the most horrific manner, all hidden out of sight lest we be at all disturbed at our financial support of the atrocities on factory farms, in slaughterhouses, etc.
No, it should be no wonder at all.
Our words, our phrases, have power.
Let’s begin to truly look at our words regarding other animals and shift our perceptions of them from beings that are inferior to us to creatures who have just as much a right to be here and to be treated with respect as we do.