Honor Thy Father and Mother, Except When They Misbehave‏

Those of us who grew up watching “All in the Family” knew that the patriarch, Archie Bunker, wasn’t always right (to say the least). Yet, often the first reaction I hear from people when they learn that Exposing the Big Game is an anti-hunting book is an indignant, “But my father was a hunter!”

Well, so? Look at all the other outdated activities or attitudes we’ve turned our backs on—slavery, racism, sexism all went out of fashion without anyone arguing, “But my father was a racist, sexist, slave owner!”

What’s so sacred about hunting that makes it any harder to kiss goodbye than any of our parent’s other wrong-headed behaviors? Maybe it’s that nearly everyone you meet is as blind to their anthropocentric prejudice of speciesism as Archie Bunker was to his isms. Most people seem unwilling or unable to share their compassion with the non-human animals of this world.

Our parents deserve to be honored for teaching us the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Kids are generally told that this directive applies to everyone, from their parents and teachers to their siblings and friends—not just to members of their in-group. And a lot of parents wouldn’t hesitate to invoke the golden rule to stop a child hurting the family pet.

Yet for many people, the bias of speciesism is so entrenched that they can’t seem to recognize a wild animal as a deserving other. But biases and isms are not written in stone. If humanity keeps evolving along a compassion continuum, we will inevitably apply the same rules of consideration to all creatures who have the ability to think and feel. Perhaps it’s time to update and clarify the golden rule to read: “Do unto other sentient beings as they would have you do unto them.”

The golden rule is an age-old edict rooted in the qualities of empathy and compassion. The former asks that we put ourselves in someone else’s “shoes” while the latter compels us to modify any actions that would harm or aggravate them. Naturally if we live by a golden rule that includes all of the animal kingdom, we would never keep anyone captive, trap, poison or snare them or use them as living targets in a bloody, imbalanced game.

Text and Wildlife Photos Copyright Jim Robertson

9 thoughts on “Honor Thy Father and Mother, Except When They Misbehave‏

  1. Great post! I agree with your updating of the golden rule. In a similar vein of thought I’ve been thinking all day that we need to stop thinking in terms of human rights and animal rights, and instead start thinking in terms of sentient beings rights.

    It’s not a question of *if* humanity keeps evolving along a continuum of compassion. We *will* continue to do so. It’s the only way the human race will survive.

  2. While researching something unrelated (honest) I stumbled upon this little piece, which I think sums up some of the issues explored here very well.

    “I hunted for 30 years. For various reasons, mostly because my father did, and my grandfather did. Yes, we ate what we killed, but I never felt I was hunting TO eat, after all, I had food whether I killed anything or not.

    I never felt I was hunting for “wildlife management”. I never picked up my rifle and said “Well, I am off to do my duty for wildlife management by killing an animal”.

    I never did hunt for “trophies”. Whatever one describes that as.

    I didn’t even consider my “milenias old roots”, though I occasionally did use one of my grandfather’s rifles, now 100 years old.

    I guess I hunted just because I did. At first, killing was thrilling, then anti-climactic, then distasteful. Then you begin to wonder why you are doing it.

    After pursuing elk for 7 years in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, I got an easy shot at a 6 point bull and passed. If he could elude me for that long, what business did I have to kill him and hang his head where people who had never experienced his world could look at him…..not in his magnificence, but in an artificially posed mount, supported by premolded styrofoam. Would I have gained anything from the experience? Who would gain? Who would be better off had I ended the animal’s life?

    I began to look at hunting differently. It certainly isn’t needed by anyone or anything…….most animals are not hunted at all, and do just fine. Hunters continually harp on deer overpopulation…..but deer make up less than 2% of what they kill. And there are now alternatives to hunting deer.

    In November 1989, I was shot by a deer hunter, while on my own property. The irresponsible hunter left me for dead, and my twelve year old son loaded me in a truck and drove me 40 miles to a hospital. That didn’t dampen my enthusiasm, though, and is not the reason I quit, but it did give me a solid taste of what the animals endure.

    I guess I just started to understand that the animal I was looking at through a scope was not just a target, but a living thing. A thing that suffered when shot, a thing that I had no right to kill, though I had the privilege to do so, by virtue of paying another person a fee for a license. Think about that. The animal is minding his own business when you go into a store, pay a fee and walk out with a license to kill the animal, what a deal.

    I shot the last animal that will ever fall to my gun in November 1992. I hunted until January, 1997.

    In five years, I discovered I could love the outdoors, and it’s experiences, which I still dearly enjoy, without killing. The guns stay at home when I take to the field now, though I keep the rust off them by frequent trips to the range to break clay targets or make little groups of holes in paper, and I have turned more to shooting competition for satisfaction and achievement.

    Is hunting worse than factory farms? No. Does that make hunting right? No.

    Am I responsible for the death of animals, even though I am a vegetarian, don’t use leather or fur? Sure. One only need observe the bugs on my truck grill to see that. But I have decided to minimize my impact on animals and work to help them, rather than kill them.

    I have a lot of making up to do.”

    • This is an amazing statement considering it is coming from an almost lifelong hunter. Do you have the source for this? I am going to post it to make sure everyone here sees it. If I were a hunter, this is just the kind of conclusion I would have come to.

  3. Pingback: If I Were a Hunter | Exposing the Big Game

  4. Pingback: Honor Thy Father and Mother—Especially When They’re Right | Exposing the Big Game

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