"Ask an impertinent question, and you're on your way to a pertinent answer." —Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man
As of October 2015, my goal for this blog is to ask 101 impertinent questions.

Monday, October 12, 2015

4—What might we see if animals could hold up a mirror to human behavior as they often experience it?

"Some animals may find this disturbing,"warns Rémi Gaillard's video at the outset. We are then treated to Gaillard's prankster video that shows what kind of foolish and tawdry exploitation might occur if human and animal roles were reversed. The video satire called Human World made me an instant fan of Rémi Gaillard.
From Rémi Gaillard's "Dog"(YouTube)

Reflecting on the lack of respect toward animals so rampant in our culture always brings to mind a little known book called Animal Rights Considered in Relation to Social Progress published by Henry Stephens Salt back in 1893. A remarkable man, Salt was a pacifist, humanitarian, vegetarian, social reformer, conservationist, and, though from England, the first biographer of Henry David Thoreau.

For all his convictions, he was not a stuffed shirt as we see in his verse:
A Lover of Animals
Oh, yes! you love them well, I know!
But whisper me—when most?
“In fields, at summer-time.” Not so:
At supper-time—in roast.

Henry Salt (1850-1939)
I learned about Henry Salt from a more recent book by Roderick Frazier Nash called The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics. Salt and other animal rights activists back in the nineteenth center saw their cause as one with the Abolitionists. Later, they linked the rights of animals to the rights of women during the suffragette movement. While Henry Salt's book went out of print long ago, it's available at Amazon through a publishing outfit called Forgotten Books

Salt's insights are simple, yet profound. To the charge that animal rights activists are sentimentalists, he wrote, "the only real safeguard against sentimentality is to take up a consistent position towards the rights of men and of the lower animals alike, and to cultivate a broad sense of human justice (not 'mercy') for all living things. Herein, and herein alone, is to be sought the true sanity of temperament."

Salt goes on to explain why the rights of men and women should not be viewed as any different from the rights of animals: " 'It is only by a wide and disinterested study of both subjects that a solution of either is possible. 'For he who loves all animated nature,' says Porphyry, 'will not hate any one tribe of innocent beings, and by how much greater his love for the whole, by so much more will he cultivate justice towards a part of them, and that part to which he is most allied.' "

Click to learn more Henry Salt's Creed of Kinship and learn more about this fascinating reformer praised by Gandhi.

(Bonus video by Gaillard: "Dog"

No comments: