This morning I saw lots of picture on my facebook profile of animal testing or animal manipulation to maximize their productivity. Thanks to my friend Richa Hingle for that. If you haven't seen, do see the pictures of cows whose guts have holes so that farmer can access it directly or dogs who are gassed to death or bunnies whose neck and eyelids are opened ala clockwork orange style so that lipsticks and masscaras are tested on them.
Now hardly any of my blog posts have been about animals so why suddenly this post. Because something happened to me in 2012. If you havent been following me and my 1000 updates then let me state - "yes I got a dog!" This was my first brush with an animal. I never thought animals were worthy of my time. They do not help me any which way - professionally, evolution-wise, they die before me so they even cannot take care of me in my old age, or even materialistically.
But having a dog myself sensitized me towards animals and nature in a way that no documentary or article or experience or trek would ever do. So this article will sound farce to lots of people. But if you have experienced animals in day to day life, have tried to invest time in understanding them, then you will probably understand where I am coming from.
In any case, I suppose articles like these are worth a thought because knowledge never goes waste.
I can testify that animals exhibit the same feelings as humans. I am talking about emotional intelligence EQ. The way we measure EQ in humans, if we could measure in animals, they would probably surpass us. And I say it with my own experience, they demonstrate lot more patience, love, affection and recall than we humans do. If you feel I am saying this because of my undying love for my dog Juno (aka Juno Singh, aka junki aka goodie girl), then believe a person who has studied animals way more than all of us combined - Charles Darwin:
"The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, is certainly one of degree and not of kind. We have seen that the senses and intuitions, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, memory, attention, curiosity, imitation, reason, etc., of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or even sometimes in a well-developed condition, in the lower animals."
I once had a friend and he was telling me that his sister married a Spanish - a language his family didnt know. So how did his sister's husband and his mother communicate? He said we underestimate sign and body language. And that's true, with my dog, both of us (being highly intelligent if we both say so ourselves) have developed a sign/body language which we both understand and for me living with her is like living with another human or say "a stream of consciousness". Animals can speak, its us who cannot listen (but we love shifting the blame to animals). These animals are equally emotionally rich. But any relationship requires time and patience which we lack. Forget about understanding animals, we do not have patience to understand our fellow human being.
Lots of my friends say that we are more evolved than animals, so we earn the right to rule over them. However, I have met lots of people who have very low IQ. In all brashness and immodesty, I can say they are really dumb. But then, should I round them up and gas them to death or puncture their guts or torture them, beat them, kill them eat them and feed it to our kids? Why was there outrage against concentration camps then?
Somewhere I feel the core problem is identification. We cannot identify with animals and hence we feel its ok to torture them. Sensitizartion towards nature and animals should be part of school curriculum. Isn't that also knowledge and knowledge should first be imparted about our surrounding first. We can study and read up about Big Dipper and Ursa Major later, this is close home, this should be taught first.
This is the moral science we need - respecting other beings. We cannot justify horrible moral choices by saying "we are evolved" or "we are more intelligent" or we are "bystandars" not participants. When on one hand we believe we are peace loving, corruption or rape protesting individuals, on the other hand we cannot totally ignore what we do to animals. When we hold Nazis in disgust, we should be aware that we are being the same with someone else. And it's a moral choice we are making.
Someone once said that - "Knowledge is important. It helps us see what we are and what we might become." Knowledge is strength. I think in today's world we need to redefine "stronger". In my marathon practice, whenever I slowed down, the fastest runner ran back to give me company. That is strength - the ability to help- not ability to rape or ability to torture. That is succumbing to your weakness.