Not so long ago, a friend told me that she’d go hunting over the weekend. Upon my shocked reaction, she assured me that she wouldn’t shoot any animals herself (leaving that to her hunting companion), but she does appreciate the meat which they’ll share because she’ll help in other ways. I had only ever seen her eating vegetables, and she’s certainly not your typical meat eater, so I had to ask her why she didn’t object to hunting. Well, she said, to her it’s all one big cycle — creatures are born and they die; plants bloom and they wither; one life (a mouse for example) sustains another life (a cat).
I can’t agree with that. Why should it be acceptable to kill an animal, but not a human being? Where is the dividing line, and who draws it? It may seem that a human life is way more precious than the life of a rabbit, but only from a human perspective. Sure, a human is smarter, has more capacities, is immensely superior when it comes to cognition and understanding, but the right to life is independent from such qualities. Otherwise it should be o.k. to kill a paraplegic or an individual with Down Syndrome. In fact, human capacities such as the ability to make decisions based on moral values should make us responsible for the wellbeing of weaker creatures — not eat them.
Something happened today that made me remember the conversation with my friend. When I took my dogs for their walk, we came across the carcass of a dead elk. A pile of furry skin, an almost meatless skeleton, and not far off the head — obviously the left-overs of a successful hunt. A sad sight, even more so because I had seen a live elk not so long ago on the same walk, a majestic elk with huge antlers. I only saw him for a few seconds; my dog started barking and chased him away. The elk could have bashed her head to pulp with his hooves; instead, he bolted. Maybe this was the same animal; not majestic any more, just heaps of garbage. Sad.
In less than two weeks, people will sit down to give thanks, and they will consume almost 50 million turkeys in the process. 50 million deaths — for one day. That’s not only sad, that’s crazy.