Monday, September 8, 2008

A Fifth Quote From One Of My Favorite Australians

Peter Singer says:

According to the dominant Western Tradition, the natural world exists for the benefit of human beings. God gave human beings dominion over the natural world, and God does not care how we treat it. Human beings are the only morally important members of this world.  Nature itself is of no intrinsic value and the destruction of plants and animals cannot be sinful unless by this destruction we harm human beings.

I think he summarizes our Western beliefs pretty well.   I grew up with the idea that the worth of animals and plants is based on how they benefit humans.

Cows gives us milk.   Chickens give us eggs.   Pigs give us pork chops.   Bees give us honey.

Then there was those deep profound questions.   Okay, what the hell are mosquitoes for?   Why are they around?

I think usually some answer was provided--usually related to the food chain.

The first time I remember hearing the idea that animals might actually exist for themselves and not for our benefit was when I worked at the zoo.   I was a coordinator for the teen volunteers one summer and I think we talked about wasps.   The idea was presented that animals might actually not be here just so we can use them in some way.

I personally am not against using animals as long as it's done in a way that doesn't cause suffering.

We coexist on this lovely planet and sometimes we use each other.   Maybe "use" is the wrong word.

I don't know.

I just believe strongly in interdependence.   I believe in sharing and working together.   I believe in asking for help and getting help.    I think that's all fine and beautiful--as long as it's done with respect.

And it doesn't come to the point of being cruel exploitation.  

Bee Movie:  
My favorite film about inter-species cooperation and friendship.   


mscherrylane said...

the only problem is humans end up exploiting everything...rhino horn etc comes to mind (being in Chinese medicine)...

btw I was practially born here and have NO IDEA who this Peter Singer you keep mentioning is- I guess I'll have to check wiki LOL

Dina said...


Yeah. We're good at exploitation.

Don't worry about not knowing who Peter Singer is. It's not like I know who every famous American is. I probably don't even know half of them. Actually I probably know about 1/10th of them and that's being generous towards myself.