Friday, August 20, 2010

Behold, the Triumph of the Canine Spirit!!

I found this awe-inspiring jewel of a story on Fox News and I felt compelled to post a blog on some of the thoughts that crossed my mind thereafter.

The pictorial story featured in the Fox News story is merely a single example of a growing trend that appears to be more harmless than it really may be. This trend is a movement to personify animals as if they possess the same emotional, psychological, and spiritual capacities of human beings. For instance, the Fox story features Lucy, a paralyzed dog, who scales to the summit of Mt. Washington (2,290 feet) with the help of a dog wheelchair to become the first paralyzed fog to ascend such a distance. The heart-wrenching story concludes with Lucy’s owner commenting on how her dog is such a “go-getter.” In my humble opinion, this may be giving the dog a little too much credit. After all, it’s only a dog. Although it is an impressive feat to witness your handicapped pet succeed at such a challenging feat, it’s important to realize that it’s nothing like the drive and the passion that fuels our very own human spirits.

Just the other day, I heard a broadcast on the radio that praised the nimble efforts of local firefighters extinguishing a blaze that endangered the residents of an entire apartment complex. The report concluded with the reassurance that all pets had been safely rescued. My immediate reaction to this story was, “Pets? Really?” This response came from the realization that there was no mention of any children that were safely evacuated. It seemed like the pressing matter was whether or not the domestic animals were saved.

For some, household pets can be valuable companions. Dogs can be loyal, cats can be cuddly, and fish can be awesome too. The problem arises when an undue amount of care or attention is paid towards these animals, which can potentially place values within these pets that elevate them to the same status as humans. The distinction between man and beast lies in personhood. Animals don’t have that trait. They are beings, but they are not commensurate to human beings. They lack the ability to think, to reason, to hope, and to love because they lack interior life, a soul. That is a statement that is subject to protest since it is difficult to claim that an animal’s existence is devoid of an interior life when you cannot simply sit down with a squirrel, a wombat, or Lucy the dog over tea and crumpets to discuss the matter. Regardless of that unfortunate circumstance, I cannot leave this point to a matter of opinion: animals do not have souls, therefore they are unequal to humans.

Now, I am the first to tell you that I am no animal lover (except for the occasional non-slobbery dog or an irresistibly cute kitten), but I am also no enemy to PETA. That is, I don't run about seeking to indiscriminately abuse or exterminate animals. When I make the point that animals are not akin to human beings, it is because I believe it is an important distinction to make in a world where individuals and small circles of society hail treat these creatures with the same sort of dignity. As patrons of the earth it is the duty of humanity to respect these animals as such without forgetting that they were fundamentally placed on earth for human purposes.

I enjoy cutting into a good steak, bacon is delectable, and there’s nothing quite like barbecue chicken for a summer cookout with family and friends. My palate for processed, cooked, and seasoned animal flesh (sounds delicious if you put it that way, hm?) is in no way inspired by an insatiable hatred towards particular members of the animal kingdom. At the same time, I never find myself lamenting the death of another cow, pig, or chicken. With no strong aversions or affinities towards animals, I simply co-exist with them. It’s not because I am a ravenous carnivore or an insensitive dolt that I exhibit this sort of apathy. Rather, it’s through the acknowledgement of the essential distinction between man and beast and the natural hierarchy that follows allow me to accept that animals have been placed on this earth primarily for the good of omnivorous human beings.

This story on Lucy, the mountain-climbing canine, is a presentation on the formidability of the animal spirit, but this pales deathly in comparison to the human soul.


Ray Korson said...

The link didn't publish, so if you're dying to see the Fox News story, here it is:

Christina said...

"This trend is a movement to personify animals as if they possess the same emotional, psychological, and spiritual capacities of human beings."

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's not a fan of the tendency to personify animals. It doesn't seem very creepy at first glance - there are a lot of people out there who refer to their pets as "fur babies," etc. But when you look at the personification of animals in parallel to the dehumanization of the preborn, disabled, or elderly, it's disturbing. I think there's a definite trend towards a belief that animal lives are worth more than some human lives.

Anonymous said...

I think Peter Singer would agree completely.