Freedom of opinion?

Striped Insights

The praise of friendship mentions the possibility to exchange: to learn from each other, also to argue - a "quality" of this special relationship between different people that is surprising for many. Suggestions, thought-provoking impulses and arguments are in good hands in a trusting bond, because here it is possible to argue in the knowledge of mutual goodwill and in an attitude that tolerates different opinions. But this is precisely where discussions often falter or come to a complete standstill: when it comes to the relationship with animals and their welfare or suffering. In all clarity, it can be said that this is not about opinions. Just as one cannot have different opinions about whether an object I am about to drop will fall down - at least not in a world with the characteristics that our home planet has. Nor is there freedom of opinion about whether women and men should have equal rights. Rather, these are inescapable facts. 

Okapi smiles. -Conditio sine qua non? -You said it, Zebra retorts. -Anyway, I don't understand why something so obvious has to be said first."

Among these facts is just this: that non-human animals have a right to a life beyond tasks and services to humans. That, on the contrary, there is no underlying logic to which human rights towards animals can be traced. This anthropocentric view, that everything is there for man, is unfortunately found in abundance in traditional and highly respected philosophies - which, by the way, does not make it any less pathological and narcissistic. So once again, because through repetition we learn: non-human animals, as subjects, participate in their own lives and in events that affect them in emotional and sensory ways - and on top of that, probably in many other ways that are inconceivable to humans because they are not accessible. It cannot depend on an opinion whether one grants a living being endowed with senses and meaning the ability to be an actor and agent of its own life in its world. Life is an intrinsic value, that is, one that does not have to be earned. Nor is it negotiable as an opinion whether a non-human subject is afraid when it feels the fear of others, or whether it feels pain when it is treated roughly. Nor whether it is happy when it can walk around. What is negotiable, however, is the position of the human counterpart. And that begins with dismantling and recycling the supposed throne that one has fantasised together as the crown of creation. Acknowledging our kinship with other living beings and renewing our sense of natural connectedness and integrity. In the words of the fabulous Lyanda Lynn Haupt, "Hope that we can learn another kind of attention that is deeper, wilder, more creative, more native, more difficult and far more beautiful than that we have come to accept as adequate."

-Hey Zebra, do we still have time for this? asks Okapi with a concerned expression. Deep from the forest the answer comes back: -who knows? We still have to try it.

Lyanda Lynn Haupt: Crow Planet. Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness. Little, Brown Spark 2011