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 Look at all the other outdated activities or attitudes we’ve turned our backs on—slavery, racism, sexism all went out of fashion without anyone arguing, “But my father was a racist, sexist,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