When Xpress asked local educators for ideas about the focus of the annual Kids Issue, two distinct ideas rose to the top: activism and a kid’s view of the world. This week we focused on activism. We received a cornucopia of submissions, including the one you see below.
Since I am creating a blog about animal rights, the first question I have to answer is: “Why should people care about animal rights?” The answer is simple. Other animals are intelligent, emotional beings who deserve our respect.
As anyone who lives with companion animals would know, they are capable of feeling pleasure and pain like us. Despite this, other animals have long been abused, mistreated, and in general been viewed as somehow “less” than us. This supremacist attitude is the same one that was used to justify the exploitation of blacks, American Indians, Jews, and virtually every other group that has been discriminated against. Humans may be the most intellectually advanced species on the planet, but that does not give us the right to view other species as our property. Intellect should not be used as a measure of the worth of a sentient being’s life. As the philosopher Jeremy Bentham said, “The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?'”
Our civilization has created rules, the rules of morality that specify how we should treat each other. These rules are not built into nature; we created them because we had the ability to empathize with the suffering of others and wanted to create a world where every person would have the opportunity to lead a full and happy life. Why should these rules not apply to other animals as well? Most people do not want to see another human, a cat, or a dog suffer. And yet we buy products made on factory farms where animals face a life of constant and horrible abuse. We buy cosmetics that were tested on animals who are subject to constant torture in laboratories. We go to circuses and buy movies in which animals were abused for our entertainment. We exterminate “pests” without a thought for their lives and the value they hold. Animal rights is about creating a better world for all beings where everyone has a chance to be happy.
For other articles on this topic, visit Evergreen’s Environmental Education blog at www.evergreenccsEE.com
— Perrin Alaine-Sedano, Evergreen Community Charter School, eighth grade