Sunday, February 05, 2012

Don't be cruel to animals - and mankind

I refer to Dr Lee Wei Ling's commentary last Sunday ('Confessions of an embarrassed omnivore') on her eating meat even though she condemns cruelty to animals.
The word 'cruel' is described by my dictionary as 'wilfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others' and 'enjoying the pain or distress of others'.
It would be cruel to kill solely for pleasure or profit. Cock fighting and poaching are cruel.
Some time ago, some Japanese fishermen were caught on film clubbing to death a whole school of dolphins just because they fed on fish that were meant for the people's sushi table. That was cruel.
But what if the killing is done out of necessity? Would we say a lion or a tiger is cruel in killing a deer for its dinner? What about a python strangling a monkey before swallowing it whole, often while it is still alive? We call that nature.
Assuming that the whole world turned vegetarian, what would be the fate of all the cattle, sheep, pigs and fowl? I don't think they would fare any better. Surely they would become a nuisance, competing with us for space and food?
We would still have to kill them, although we would use the term 'cull' to justify the slaughter. Proper farming control, management and processing would be a more practical and humane solution.
Let's turn our attention away from animals: Do humans treat their own kind any better? Every day, people are tortured, murdered and executed in the name of justice, revenge, or just to make a statement.
Irresponsible mothers dump their babies, while welfare homes are overflowing with abandoned old folk. Many people treat their pets better than they treat their parents.
In many parts of the world, people are dying of starvation, while elsewhere, the rich splurge thousands of dollars on a fungus.
When animals are used for research to save the lives of humans, activists scream 'cruelty'. If all mankind, including so-called animal lovers, could spare a fraction of their passion towards improving the lot of their own kind, the world would be a better place for all of us - including the animals.
Tan Pin Ho