Bears are made of the same dust as we, and breathe the same winds and drink of the same waters. A bear’s days are warmed by the same sun, his dwellings are overdomed by the same blue sky, and his life turns and ebbs with heart-pulsings like ours, and was poured from the same First Fountain. And whether he at last goes to our stingy heaven or no, he has terrestrial immortality. His life not long, not short, knows no beginning, no ending. To him life unstinted, unplanned, is above the accidents of time, and his years, markless and bound less, equal Eternity.
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.
For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.
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.
He who attempts to study any small group of animal forms without first gaining a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding territory, and becoming familiar with the zoological grand divisions that lie around him, loses much.
Many people take to animals to escape from human beings — but often, it turns out, because they find the animals so human. Others, of whom I am one, find animals a delightful change just because they are not human and never can be.
To my way of thinking there’s something wrong, or missing, with any person who hasn’t got a soft spot in their heart for an animal of some kind. With most folks the dog stands highest as man’s friend, then comes the horse, with others the cat is liked best as a pet, or a monkey is fussed over; but whatever kind of animal it is a person likes, it’s all hunky-dory so long as there’s a place in the heart for one or a few of them.
When we consider how much we owe to the Dog, man’s faithful friend, to the noble Horse, the patient Ox, the Cow, the Sheep, and our other domestic animals, we can not be too grateful to them: and if we cannot, like some ancient nations, actually worship them, we have perhaps fallen into the other extreme, underrate the sacredness of animal life, and treat them too much like mere machines.
Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.