- Since ancient times, man has already learned how to utilized certain animals to help them in their everyday undertakings – transport, hauling goods, plowing the field and mountains, source of milk, security, and even kill them for food.
There is only a limit where we can use animals for our needs but not to kill them for food or exploit them for entertainment. Even helping with our chores should have a limit, we need to provide them enough food, shelter, security, medicine, etc. We should treat them as they are – spirit souls like us in animal bodies.
Here is an essay related to your question:
Are we just animals?
Materialist scientists says we are animals. Our Biology books stated that we belong to the kingdom Animalia. Charles Darwin speculated that we ascended from a common ancestor that evolved from single bacteria several millions of years ago. He also said, Chimpanzees are our closest genetic relative because we share 96% of their genes. But, in several studies, scientists also found out that we also share similar genes (90%) with cats, mice (85%), cattle (80%), and even bananas (64%). So, bananas are our distant relatives, too (?).
This simply means that all living organisms are made of any combination of the same genetic information, same atomic particles, same molecules, DNA, etc., but in different ways, purposes and designs. For example: metal, stainless steel, engine, electricity, paints, screws, gears, petrol are used in different varieties of vehicles by different manufacturers – all varieties of cars like sedans, SUVs, trucks, buses, racing cars etc.; speedboats, ships, submarine, warships, airplanes, fighter jets, etc. Variations of the same design and materials are being used in different ways and forms because of availability, practicality and efficiency.
Biologically speaking, we are no different than animals. In fact, many of us think and act like one. In a little comparison: Chimpanzees are quadropedal (uses four limbs to walk/run) compared to man which is a bipedal (upright, walking on two legs). Our hands are shorter and optimized to handle complex tasks and manipulate even tiny and delicate objects, harness fire that paves for modern inventions and energy generation.
Chimps use their strong arms to grab, swing on branches and walk on their bare knuckles. Human and Chimp brains may be the same in size and volume, but man’s brain is much superior to Chimps. Our larynx can vocalize complex sounds when talking, manipulate words and languages; Chimps have a very limited larynx movement. Does Chimpanzees sing? Scientists have established that great apes and chimpanzees are indifferent to music at all. For them, they are just a bunch of meaningless sounds that doesn’t affect them, negative or positive.
Many say we are much superior and a special kind of animal because we have dominion over them; we are more intelligent, we can express the entire spectrum of feeling and emotions compared to other animals. We have great degrees of self-reflection, work and solve complex concepts and intellectual problems, multi-task at profound levels, and high level of memory retention. We are even capable of “seeing” or imagining/watching ourselves in a third person perspective, outside of us.
Materialist scientists and philosophers posits that we are no different than a stone, a potato and a lizard. We are nothing special. Like all animals, we take birth, live for a while and die. Regardless of our activities and what we can achieve, we are still going to die. And that’s it, a bitter dead end, or a sweet relief to some like the nihilists. We will just end up a rotting, stinking corpses like all animals will become, sooner or later. Noting special, so they believed.
Animals are only concerned of four activities, mainly: eating, sleeping, mating and defending. They don’t go to school to learn arithmetic, to read and write, study science, business, economics, law, medicine, politics, art, etc. Their mode of communication and commerce are instinctive and limited compared to humans.
Their lives revolve around those four main activities. Of course, they also play, seek pleasures; take care of their offspring, build simple shelters, socialize, but, you won’t see them go to masses and congregate in churches to pray, discuss and argue about religion, philosophy, politics and fashion. They may have a sense of superiority and obedience toward others, but they have no idea about God and religion.
Humans are also greatly concerned about these four activities. We eat, sleep, have sex and fight to defend ourselves, our loved ones, others and country. But, we are more sophisticated than animals. We cook our food elaborately and ceremoniously, use fine utensils, and prepare them artfully and sumptuously, not only for nourishment but for gratifying our tongue and stomach. In fact, the varieties of food and preparations are as diverse as there are cultures.
Great men in the past navigated the world through the now famous Spice Routes in the Middle East for spices, trade and commerce. Our discriminating taste buds took us to faraway lands and helped shape the ancient civilizations greatly. On the other hand, animals of the same species anywhere in the world eat the same raw food without much ado using just bare hands, tongue or mouth.
Many of us sleep in expensive, comfortable beds in our air-conditioned or heated homes sheltered from natural elements. We have water beds, air beds, soft cotton beds, floating beds, hammocks, etc. We have sex not only to procreate but for sensual gratification. We have a whole industry in this area that rakes in exorbitant revenues, many from underground dealings. We have porn sex industry, bath houses and sex clubs, brothels, sex toys and sex dolls of all sorts, sex-enhancing drugs and all kinds of paraphernalia and activities associated with it.
We defend and fight like animals but with sophisticated weapons. Animals may use fighting implements, too, but crude and simplistic compared to what we created. We have all kinds of blunt, flexible, projectiles and bladed weapons, automatic assault rifles, missiles with nuclear warheads, biological and chemical weapons, sea, land, underwater and space weapons, etc. A sizable Hydrogen or atomic bomb can obliterate a small country, capable of wiping its entire population in an instant. That’s how efficient we have become in terms of our defending and fighting propensity.
The same four main activities; the sophistication and the mentality are worlds apart.
Is this the reason what makes humans “special” than animals? Not really. There is one big difference that sets up far apart from them, and that is, Inquisitiveness – the ability to ask higher and intelligent questions, like: Who am I?” “Why am I here?”” Why am I suffering?” “What is the meaning and purpose of life?” “How can I solve these problems?” It is a precious gem, a property exclusive only to human beings. Animals can’t ask these questions. They don’t have the ability. Their intelligence is lesser than humans and limited only to their four main activities and survival. Their instinctive sense of morality is lesser compared to humans. They are not even concern about nakedness and indecency.
In order to fully comprehend these things, we need to understand that we are not our physical body. We are eternal, undying spirit souls temporarily embodied in it. We are a distinct entity, invisible, immeasurable and primeval. Our body is like a vehicle that we drive around. Animals are also animated because of spirit souls embodied inside them. The spirit souls are the “drivers” inside their pig body, dog body, bird body, fish body and so on. Animals think and act as animals, like humans think as humans, but some humans think and act like animals, too.
According to the Vedas (book of knowledge written 5000 years ago), the human body is the only material form among the 8,400,000 species of living organisms in the planet that is capable of knowing the Absolute Truth or God. Spirit souls in animal and plant bodies don’t have that capability. This is what makes the human form “special.” The properties of a human form is what helps the spirit soul realize his real identity, the purpose and meaning of life and intrinsic connection and relationship with God, provided one is able to discover its uses and importance. But sadly, many of us, consciously or unconsciously, opted to live like sophisticated animals.
Human life is intended to know God and go back to Him. What if we misuse our responsibility as what human life is intended to? Nature takes care of that through the law of karma and reincarnation. Human life is like a drama in a stage play. We were given a role as the main actor, others assume supporting roles, and so on. We are expected to act our role accordingly. But, if we don’t act very well according to our character, we will not get the same role anymore in the next stage play.
In real life, we will be stripped of our human form and get a body of a particular animal suitable to our desires, attachments, past actions, and consciousness in our next lifetime. We will be prepared and conditioned for our next role as an animal. We can see that animals are at ease, comfortable being themselves, wallowing in the filthy mud, have sex openly with anyone without shame, swim and live underwater, etc. It’s because of previous conditioning and the greatly diminished consciousness, feelings and emotions. Unlike humans, animals are free from creating karma.
It is not accidental that we are born in human bodies. It is not the first time, either. If we live like a cat in this lifetime, we will get the body of a cat; the same if we live like a dog, fish, bird, monkey, and so on. We will be conditioned to live like animals and forfeit that precious ability to ask higher question about God until we are born and elevated in human form again. Our precious chance to liberate ourselves from the cycle of material existence is offered to us again.
But, if we misuse our human form, we will be thrown back again to animal or plant form, and the cycle continues. Who knows how many hundreds and millions of lifetimes we have been roaming the universes, passing though different species, born as a man, a woman, cat, giraffe, cockroach, snake, lizard, butterfly, crab, crocodile, shark, maggot in rotten dead bodies, worm in a stool, fungus, oak tree, potato, banyan tree living for thousands of years, carrot, daffodil, dog, tick in a dog, seaweed, etc.?
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” – Bhagavad Gita – 2:13
Well, you’ve received a lot of answers and opinions. But let’s get some facts in here. The first fact is that people have different values regarding animals. Let’s take dogs as an example: Many people love dogs and make them part of the family. Some people just have them to cuddle with, other people train their dogs to do things. Some are crueler and just chain the dog to a post or lock them up somewhere. They are just there to scare if someone enters the house. In some countries people eat dogs and it’s considered good food. So already now you can see how different the views are depending the person but also the cultural, religious and geographical locations. In some religions dogs are considered dirty.
In the Mid Evil times dogs were used for many different things by humans. Therefore we carry expressions like: “I’m tired like a dog” or “I’m hungry as a dog”. So people seem to forget how animals have helped people throughout time in many, many ways. Dogs (and other animals) have saved human lives many times and they still do. Look at the service cows and horses have done for humans but how many people think about that!
Most humans take animals for granted in many ways. Either for food, for their personal pleasure, for social status etc. It’s just accepted that the dog (or other animals) must follow the will of humans. The world is changing in this view for some respects. More and more humans are changing into vegetarian food. Some do this for the animals, others for health reasons but the purpose of not killing animals is still being fulfilled.
Animals are intelligent and sentient beings (regardless of what people say, who disagree with me). They have their own evolution and their own qualities. They give unconditional love to humans but at the same time they will reflect what YOU feel towards them. They come to you when they want to and I would never dream of forcing an animal to come unless it wants to. There are many beautiful stories about human and wild animal connections. People who have become family with wolves, gorillas, orangutans and other animals. We as humans must learn to respect animals for who they are. When an animal loves you it will be for life unless you mistreat it. If it leaves you, it will be for life.
When we are calm around animals and respect them they will never harm a human unless for example they are hungry predators. Some other ones, like attack dogs will cause harm or death because they were trained by HUMANS to do this. I have had some wonderful encounters in wildlife even with some dangerous animals but I don’t feel scared and I respect the animals just as much as I respect humans. They are living beings and they express themselves the way they can. Shouldn’t we give our love to these beings?
Consider human mentality. Some religions teach that if you’re not born within the blood line then you are an animal and you can be treated as such. So, depending on your own personal understanding and insight of life, you are going to express this to the world around you. Nature will reflect to you who you are. I think that the movie “Solaris” shows how our planet tries to work. I think it’s high time that humans start to work with Nature rather than to fight and destroy it. If we don’t, there will be no winners, that’s for sure. Nature will always survive.
Geographical locations also have had a great impact on the moral evolution of humans. Some parts of our planet is harsh nature with mountains and sand. It’s very difficult to cultivate vegetables or fruit. In other parts this is very easy. The Indians of America (all parts) never killed animals in excess. They always blessed the ones they killed and thanked it for its service. Then came the white man, blood thirsty to hang trophies on the wall or like with the buffalo, thousands killed just for pleasure and money. This goes on even today.
So, my opinion is that we should accept our little brothers and sisters and live in peace with them. Just like you have your life, they should have their life. A life in freedom and it can be with humans but all in respect. Animals have qualities which the modern human has forgotten. They see more, smell more and sense far more than most humans do. They warn us many times but humans are blind to this. Equally there are extremely intelligent animals on our planet like dolphins but they are used for entertainment or military purpose. They try often to show us the way but we are so blind to this most of the time.
Blessed are you who truly love our nature and wildlife and who stands up for their rights.
Rather than baldly state my opinion on this quote, I will analyze it a bit and let you infer my opinion from tone. Anyway, I’d hardly have any real definite opinion, pre-analysis.
Okay. Reading it.
First, may I observe the quoted speaker must be gigantically unobservant, and/or never have left the house? I will pretend now to speak directly to the quoted speaker:
DUDE. YOU HAVE TRULY MISSED THE BOAT. WHAT YOU SUGGEST WE MIGHT DO HAS BEEN DONE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. IF AS YOUR BIG FOLLOWUP YOU WERE PLANNING TO SUGGEST FIRE, OR THE WHEEL, SAVE YOUR DIAGRAMS. DONE & DONE.
Secondly: “animals are not as important as humans” is as daffy as a pepperoni piano. Humans are animals. We’re not vegetables. We’re not minerals. We’re not fungi or protists. In fact if you look into it, we are warm-blooded, give birth to live young and suckle from teats, making us mammals, even.
Mammals are animals. All of us. Not a single exception.
Thirdly: “not as important as humans” – whose assessment was this? A great white sharks? I wouldn’t bet on it! Not if you dive in to discuss it with a few, and they’re hungry. They may find you important to eat, and themselves more important to live. If as I rather suspect, it was humans doing the importance ranking here, that’s kind of biased isn’t it? “Humans are more important to humans.” No duh they are! And cheetahs are more important to cheetahs, and bears are more important to bears, and birds of a feather are more important to birds of the same feather…especially for mating purposes, which, pretty important.
Anyhow, those three things are the main things that jump out at me re: this quote. I have no particular opinion on the quote itself, beyond those points. The quote doesn’t strike me as important enough to warrant much of an opinion. Or any.