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ZenHabits on Compassion Toward Animals

Thanks to Bill for pointing out that Leo at ZenHabits wrote "On Compassion Towards Animals" today. This is a great opportunity to inject some important, overlooked concepts or point out misconceptions. Leo has a huge following and has written a lot of wonderful posts, but there are definitely problems with today's message, as well as promising moments.

Let's deconstruct:

  • First, I am instantly nauseated when I see that the gorgeous photo of the calf is courtesy of "ILoveButter." ILoveButter could very well be a vegan who runs a sanctuary for "farm animals." All I know is that my visceral reaction was akin to what I experience with the animals-are-tasty people.
  • Leo reminds everyone that compassion is something that should be expanded to all animals, and not just your "beloved pet." Bravo Leo!
  • In a Cass Sunstein-like moment about disclosure, Leo writes: "If we could see first-hand the conditions that these animals live in, how they’re treated, what they’re fed and shot up with, we might feel differently. It’s not just the killing of an animal that causes suffering (although often it’s done in very inhumane ways), but their living conditions from birth to death.
    Animals in our society are treated as non-living, non-feeling objects, and yet they aren’t. They suffer, just as we do." Yeah, he's all about welfare, however his audience is obviously one that might find the concept of compassion toward animals to be new.
  • He sounds apologetic for his wacky idea with his final statement: "I just wanted to bring it up as a subject for consideration, thought, discussion. I know many of you will disagree, or scoff, but at any rate I think it’s a worthy topic, for anyone who cares about compassion." I found this odd, and I would have appreciated more conviction, but I suppose he believes he must tread lightly.
  • His links? Not good, in my opinion.
  • The comments so far include doubts about PeTA, defense of PeTA, god giving us dominion over animals, the "enjoyment" of eating meat, and Leo's thought for the day, which was impressive:

Dr. King fought for the rights and dignity of not only black people, but all people, including the poor and the powerless. Let’s remember that message today, and every day: and let us stand up for the rights of everyone … including children (who are oppressed today), women (who are still treated badly in so much of the world), all races (including Muslims, who are treated so badly in the U.S.), as well as animals (who are treated as objects).

Chime in at ZenHabits, and have a great day.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Yes… I feel the same about the "I love butter" – what a beautiful being!

    Quite a predictable lot of comments… "God" gave me permission, "We'd die if not…", and lots of "I only buy happy-brand"… Nice to see an occassional rational voice telling things how they really are. And I agree the links were lacking – I added

    The Catherine Friend-like comment that got me most was this from a farmer who raises/kills her own:
    "We understood that it was a gift to us, and that it was dying so that we could use it". jeeze…

    Please Mary – some happy news…

    January 19, 2009

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