Those who worry about the treatment of animals are often accused of sentimentality or of putting the plight of beasts before the immense problems of humanity. But it is quite rare to find a humanitarian who is indifferent to animals and surprisingly common to find that those who belittle animal rights are the same ones who find the pain of humans easy to bear.
Those who campaign for animal liberation have confused the issue unnecessarily by borrowing human terminology. While the proletarian condition can be abolished and women can cease to be chattels and whole races can throw off slavery, there is no means of freeing animals from the condition of being beasts. For all I know, that is just as well.
Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.
To be the father of growing daughters is to understand something of what Yeats evokes with his imperishable phrase ‘terrible beauty.’ Nothing can make one so happily exhilarated or so frightened: It’s a solid lesson in the limitations of self to realize that your heart is running around inside someone else’s body.