I am you, only different.
Human beings create arbitrary barriers to exclude beings who aren’t like them. Human beings have justified their wars, slavery, sexual violence, and military conquests with the mistaken belief that those who are “different” do not experience suffering and are not worthy of moral consideration.
You know this is wrong.
We are taught the Golden Rule as young children, and all major religions teach principles of nonviolence and kindness. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Ethical treatment—the Golden Rule—must be extended to all living beings: reptiles, mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, and crustaceans—even insects.
We are taught from a young age to discriminate among living beings. We are fooled into eating the flesh of farmed beings, ignoring the cries of hunted beings, and cuddling with furry baby beings. We grow up confused—as adults, most of us feel sick and sad when we see living beings tortured and killed, yet we purchase and consume the flesh, fur, secretions, and skin of living beings every day. We work hard to deceive ourselves and each other in order to maintain the illusion of a real barrier around “human.”
As an educator, you have a chance to teach your students that all animals—whether a rat, a pig, a dog, or a child—feel pain, happiness, and fear and want to live. Teaching empathy and compassion for animals not only helps animals but also lessens the likelihood that kids will grow up to be cruel to other kids. We know, for example, that many violent offenders, including many serial killers, started out harming animals before moving on to humans.
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