All My Relations
In this era of Cartesian “rationalism” all our fellow creatures are considered “things”, without individual personality. Their value is determined in monetary terms as a possession. A society governed by purely rationalist principles sees animals as being without feelings, almost like mechanical automatons, to do with as we please. There is a great lack of respect for our animal brothers and sisters within this dominant so-called rational culture of today and also in many religions.
But you cannot believe in evolution on the one hand and ignore all the similarities in nerve structure, hormonal systems and brain function between relatives on the other hand. Fear and pain are very important elements of survival in the wild shared by all animal species.
Survival without them is unthinkable. All higher animals feel fear, pain, boredom, curiosity and joy just like we do, according to their developmental stage, and they all talk body language. Although there can be interspecies difficulties (for example the swishing tail of a cat will communicate quite the opposite emotional state in comparison to the wagging tail of a dog) quite a lot of people have learned to understand and sometimes even "talk" foreign body languages. Although some tend towards the extreme of anthropomorphising animals and imposing human characteristics on them more and more are able to communicate on a meaningful level that respects the differences between species.
Every dog or cat owner knows that their dogs or cats have feelings and that they communicate them by the look on their face or the way they move. Within the dominant culture you will be accused of merely projecting your own feelings, no matter how successful your “communication” with the animal was and no matter what recent research is discovering about all sorts of animals. You are considered to be an irrational simpleton. So you keep your knowledge in your heart and only share it with other pet owners. Choose a new set of values, align yourself with those of the Green Spirit Circle, and consider your animal relatives as sentient beings. Here you can read a Guardian article of Paul Daley talking about the death of his dog Nari. Does this sound familiar? Maybe you are one of us.
Western rational doctrine allows only children to be spoken to by animals. As much as the rational concept is devoid of meaningful connections to animals on the one hand, on the other hand the children’s realm is flooded with helpful and/or speaking animals. From Micky Mouse to Mogli's Balu and Ninja Turtles, from Peter Rabbit to Flipper and Kung Fu Panda you will hardly find any children’s book or film without speaking and/or helpful animals. Why is that? We bombard our children with speaking animals and expect them to forget all this “nonsense” a few years later.
On 21.12.2014 a court in Brazil granted basic rights to an orang utan. Lawyers had appealed to free “Sandra” from the Buenos Aires zoo by arguing that although not human, she should be given legal rights.
In May 2013 India has officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons, whose rights to life and liberty must be respected.
In Germany the basic right of animals to protection was added to the federal constitution in 2002.
The Great Ape Project (1993 ff.) tries to extend basic human rights like the right to life, the right to freedom and the right to protection from torture to chimpanzees, orang-utans and gorillas. The project received the Ethics Prize of the Giordano Bruno foundation in 2011.
onto my finger
from the hawthorn leaf.
As I held her up
to the light
to have a look at her
(admiring her furry little chest
like a miniature bison’s)
flicked her antennae forward
and waved them around vaguely grumpy
deciding the effort of waking up was too much for her
(it was, after all, still quite early in the morning)
she tucked them
back down her sides......- like someone pulling the covers over their head
......and fell asleep again.
She looked so sweet
just sitting there asleep
her little legs clinging to the ripples and ridges
of my fingerprints
her tiny feet
tightly dreamlocked to them
It reminded me
of how babies clutch at fingers held to them,
breathing softly and rhythmically,
their eyes still closed......
.... I lower my finger.
my little sleepy moth
from its tip
Deborah W. A. Foulkes