Whatever the reasons for our being here, surely one of them must be to give us the opportunity to do something, at least in some small way, to make the world a better place. Contrary to the philosophy of Yuppies, I do not believe we can help the world very much simply by helping ourselves. We have to help others. And my “others” include other creatures.
Many years ago, I joined just about every animal society I could find. I even got as far as honorary vice president of the National Catholic Society for Animal Welfare - which is as far as a Boston Episcopalian can go. I was, after all, jeopardizing my own future. I know lately there has been some question about the gender of the Almighty, but I’ve never heard of His or Her Episcopalianism questioned.
Many years ago, too, I had an argument with a Catholic priest about his church’s once prevalent teaching that animals have no souls. I told the good father that his church has said he and I were, in the future, going to some wonderful Elysian fields where animals were not allowed. (I also reminded him that though he might not be quite as far up in those fields as I would be, he should remember Episcopalians are very democratic and I would do my best to try to get him a good spot.) But I also said that if he and I were going there, and the animals were not going anywhere, then that was all the more reason to give them a little better shake in the one life they did have.
Heavenly argument aside, I believe animals have just as much nobility of spirit and character as we have, that they have courage and fortitude in the face of far worse hardships and dangers than we have and that, finally, they are capable of even more loyalty and faithfulness and lovingness than we are. I believe, too, that if, as the Bible says, “Into our hands they are delivered,” they still are, as we are, God’s creatures and that we have been given a test of trust to treat them decently. So far, in almost every way one can imagine, we have failed this test - and, come Judgment Day, I do not believe that even a merciful God will forgive us for what we have done.
Cleveland Amory, writer and animal rights supporter, is founder and president of the Fund for Animals