On Animal Rights From the Animal perspective - Jim Willis

Animal Welfare
All About Me
What Katy did

"How could you" by Jim Willis

Jim Willis makes a connection with the hearts and souls of animals that all humans should strive for. His writings read as if the creatures he so passionately cares for penned them. He powerfully reinforces the concept and importance of the human-animal bond, and that bond is evident in nearly everything he writes.

We are the animals. We have neither more nor less worth than the human animal. We were not placed on this Earth for your use, benefit, or entertainment. Most of us preceded you by millions of years. We are all, including the human animal, part of the fabric of Life and we each serve our purpose. For centuries, you have made subjective assessments of our "value" and "intelligence," and the intelligent among you have recognized that we are as "valuable" and "intelligent" as we need to be to fulfill our purposes.

While your championing of our "rights" is often noble, it is also an artificial human concept. In most instances you are simply seeking to restore to us what you have taken away - our freedom, our habitats, our inherent right to live without confinement, fear, pain, abuse, exploitation, manipulation and destruction.

We are not a replacement for human companionship. We are not your children. We are not a commodity. We are to be respected for who we are, and our animal natures and our specific needs must be taken into consideration. Every attempt to make us what we are not, human - or worse, possessions - is an insult to the sum and substance of what we are: Animals. Whenever you acquire us it is your responsibility to ensure that it is a mutually beneficial relationship for all of our natural life. You may earn our trust, respect and even love, but you "own" us by your definitions, not by ours.

It defies logic that despite thousands of years of interaction between our species and yours, humans still do not comprehend some of the basic truths - that all dogs have the capacity to bite, that all cats may scratch, that all horses must run, that cows need pasture, that wildlife belongs in the wild, that most animals need the companionship of their own kind, that if you upset the natural order the result may be extinction or population explosion, and that we all feel pain and discomfort to the same degree as you.

While we appreciate your efforts on our behalf, we urge you to look to your own history that shows lasting change is accomplished by reasonable people, by intelligent debate, by carefully considered legislation, and by compassion. Anything less may make a mockery of the goals and jeopardize that which you seek to accomplish for us.

Every use of an animal, for research, for meat, for fur and hide, for profit, for education, needs to be considered individually. Your ethics committees may debate those uses, but they frequently do so on the basis of a perceived "need" and the human assumption that humans were endowed with the right to make decisions for animals. You have usually demonstrated by your ignorance that you are not qualified to do so.

There is one basic premise from which taking a life must be considered: All Life is Sacred. Your academics may debate that, your religious scholars may argue the point, and your nonbelievers may scoff at it...however, we believe you know it in your hearts to be true, as we know it in ours. Our blood runs as red as your own. We kill for sustenance, in self-defense, from instinct and without malice. Should your reasons be any less honorable? Imagine yourself in our place, where the sanctity of life is not ideology but the very instinct of survival. It is not in our power to hold you accountable for your actions, but most of you believe you will answer to a higher authority. Your actions toward animals will not be exempt and turning away from the problems will be judged as complicity.

We are the animals. Appreciate us for who we are. Protect our habitats. Spare us pain and suffering. Stop exploiting us for financial and other gain. Pay attention to our needs and our natures. Fulfill your obligations as stewards and regard our lives as sacred as your own. In so doing, you will achieve a harmony that has been lacking in your lives, and which is abundantly apparent in ours.