On that issue, our evolving standards approach the ancient ones of Judeo-Christian morality.
You don’t really know your fellow man until you’ve pondered the fact that most people say they love animals, professing admiration and sympathy, and most people eat them. The great masses of creatures in our industrial farms today would be entitled to conclude, if they could do any pondering themselves, that our love is not worth much. Judging by the fruits, it more resembles hatred. They come and go knowing nothing of existence but misery. No season of gentleness anymore before the blade. No glimpse of earth’s comforts or of life’s goodness. It’s all just pain, courtesy of a world filled with self-described animal lovers. Cruelty to animals, and to farm animals in particular, may not be humanity’s worst offense. It has no rival, however, for the title of humanity’s worst hypocrisy.
Lately, some eminent thinkers have turned to the subject, offering us vegans the rare brush with respectable authority. The Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, for one, seems to be especially troubled by the abuse of animals, and he’s certainly not a man to be casually ignored. A Krauthammer column last year was welcomed in animal-welfare circles as a sort of mainstream landmark, signaling that perhaps the issue is truly beginning to register. There’s nothing like seeing a long-held conviction confirmed by others of greater gifts, and that’s how I felt reading his piece. He began:
We often wonder how people of the past, including the most revered and refined, could have universally engaged in conduct now considered unconscionable. . . . While retrospective judgment tends to make us feel superior to our ancestors, it should really evoke humility. Surely some contemporary practices will be deemed equally abominable by succeeding generations. The only question is: Which ones?
I’ve long thought it will be our treatment of animals. I’m convinced that our great-grandchildren will find it difficult to believe that we actually raised, herded and slaughtered them on an industrial scale — for the eating. Read More