Moral consideration for animals

I WOULD like to gravitate our concerns towards a video that recently went viral, showing a helpless kitten being crushed over and over again by an adult woman for her entertainment/fetish.Also, we have news on 11 cats being ruthlessly poisoned to death over Hari Raya Aidilfitri at the Apartment Seri Lily Bukit Beruntung.

Animal cruelty is real and pervasive. It happens to all different types of animals and in every corner of the world. It is also preventable and unnecessary.

A composed ecosystem is made up of all living organisms. Within this system, all things have their rightful place and warrant the essential consideration and regard for that place and balance.

In the words of Albert Schweitzer, the Alsatian polymath (1875-1965): “We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do.

“True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognise it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.”

Animals are entitled to the possession of their own existence and that their most basic interests – such as the need to avoid suffering – should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings.

Therefore, it is prejudicial to oppose the suffering of humans while accepting the suffering of animals as simply a fact of life.

By respecting animal rights and having consideration for animal welfare, we also support ecological balance.

However, many animals endure heinous cruelties as people do not recognise that animals have rights, let alone the importance of having those rights.

As sentient beings, animals have the right to live a life free of agony and torment. Just because we are at the top of the food chain, it does not mean that we, humans, are the only ones with rights nor do we have the right to take animal rights away.

Animals couldn’t possibly speak for themselves and for that reason we have the responsibility to protect them. Safeguarding them is something we should take pride in.

It is important to view animals as having an intrinsic value separate from any value they have to humans and are worthy of moral consideration.

In his book Animal Liberation, Peter Singer says the fundamental dictum of equality does not prescribe equal or identical treatment; it demands equal consideration.

Animals are neither inanimate nor automata objects. They have the faculty to suffer in a similar manner and to the same degree that humans do.

Every action that we take which would impede with their needs and welfare, we are ethically obligated to take into account their ability to experience maternal love, fear, frustration, pain, pleasure and also depression.

Animals also have the faculty to exhibit empathy toward humans and other animals in a myriad of ways, particularly reassuring, mourning and even rescuing each other from harm at their own expense.

It is important to acknowledge that empathy in animals stretches across species and continents. This is not just sanguine thinking.

Research has disclosed that illuminating kids to be compassionate to animals can guide them to become good-natured and more heedful in their interactions with other humans.

Additionally, it helps them be more respectful and valuable to society. Francis of Assisi said: “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men”.

Animals are sentient beings and sentience is the only thing that matters when discussing those to whom we should give moral consideration.

In the words of Mohandas Ghandi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.

Therefore, as a civilised society, we must count animals as worthy of moral consideration and ethical treatment. The question is not can they reason, nor can they talk, but can they suffer? – May 30, 2020.

* Suzianah Nhazzla Ismail reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

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