for Title 2: Animal Rights
Question: On the Importance of Animal Rights
"Why are animal rights such a major part of Law? I understand that it's good to be kind to animals, but why should this one issue comprise an entire section - one sixth of the Law? Why should it be on par with Human Rights? Why should animal rights be treated with the same reverence as our own? Shouldn't they be less important? Why are Human Rights and Animal Rights equally valuable?"
How you treat those under your power
determines how you deserve to be treated
by those whose power you're under.
Thus, animal rights are not only relevant to human rights,
but foundational to human rights.
Human rights cannot exist without respect for animal rights. It's not about "should vs. shouldn't" - it's about "can vs. can't." It is physically impossible for a society that normalizes animal abuse to remain protected from human abuse. Any society that views animals as expendable commodities will eventually come to view humans as commodities too. This is a physical reaction, like gravity and thermodynamics, and cannot be circumvented.
Look around the world, at the countries with the worst human rights records, and you will find the worst animal rights records to match them. The countries with the fewest protections for animals also have the fewest protections for political dissent, judicial due-process, and even human life itself.
And even if you look at a nominally "free" country, like the United States, you'll see that freedom and liberty have declined in tandem with the rise of industrial animal agriculture. Factory farming (the intensive confinement of animals in horrific conditions) began to take hold in the 1960's and 70's, and exploded from the 1980's onwards. This perfectly correlates with the rise of the privatized prison industry, the onset of the "War on Drugs", the militarization of police forces, the erosion of respect for due process and civil liberties, and even the "peak" and subsequent decline of economic prosperity among the working class. This exemplifies the principle of karma: As the average person came to perpetrate greater abuse upon animals, the elites came to perpetrate greater abuse upon the average person. (And the elites themselves are not exempt from this principle either, and will get their due. There is always a bigger boss).
How exactly does this work? What is the mechanism?
The mechanism of action is our own in-built sense of guilt about what we're doing. All of us know how morality works - even if we pretend not to. We may attempt to fool ourselves, and deny it - but we still know, deep down, what's moral and what's not. The knowledge of The Law of the Earth is built into us, woven in the fabric of reality. We all know the truth of Title 2 (Animal Rights), even if this is our first time hearing of it officially. We come into this world already knowing it. It's an inextricable part of who we are.
And thus, when we violate it - willingly, systematically, egregiously, and continuously (as our society has been doing for decades) - we accumulate guilt from the knowledge of what we're doing.
Chronic guilt can wear someone down. And when the guilt is on a population-wide scale, the population gets worn down as well. Gradually, the society comes to view itself as less deserving of its own liberty. This feeling will not be conscious, of course - it will be unconscious - but no less real, and no less consequential.
And when a society becomes less confident of its worthiness for liberty, it will manifest that new self-image, in its culture and institutions.
Again, this will be done unconsciously, but the power of the mass-subconscious mind cannot be overstated. It is the mover and shaper of history, the maker and breaker of civilizations. Empires fall because of it.
Our ability to maintain an open, prosperous, and free society (for humans) is deeply linked to our collective morality. This is not a new concept - it's as ancient as civilization itself. From the Vedas and Upanishads in India, to the Dao-De-Jing and the writings of Confucius in China; from the Aztecs and Mayans to the Zulu's in Africa, from mythologies as diverse as Egypt and Japan and Ireland, to the stories in Plato's Republic; and from the histories of empires as far apart as the Romans and Easter Island - all around the world, they speak of the same thing: Formerly great cultures that collapsed because they became cruel. This is a universal human theme. The Judeo-Christian Bible is replete with stories of cities falling because of their wickedness, and of nations ending because they forgot what was truly important.
And what is truly important? Is it the worship of a particular deity? Observance of religious rituals? Adherence to rules about sex?
No. What's important is compassion.
How we treat others is the truest measure of who we are. Not our technology, not our weapons, and not our ability to impact and change our environment. Monkeys can do that. Raw intellect is a self-interested process, with a built-in incentive. We innovate because we stand to gain from our inventions - it's that simple. Monkeys can do the same. Pursuing our own self-interest does not set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.
True greatness comes not from finding cleverer ways to benefit ourselves, but from being able to look into the eyes of others, and see ourselves in them. This is what distinguishes a truly awakened and enlightened person, from those people who are merely monkeys with bigger and bigger hammers.
Compassion is the true test of who is worthy of calling themselves "Civilized" and who is still getting there. Kindness is the measuring stick.
But kindness to whom?
To the rich and powerful? To our leaders? To those with more money and power than us?
No, we don't get "points" for being kind toward those with the power to hurt us. This is, again, nothing more than self-preservation. Being kind towards a king, or a landlord, or a government official, or a boss, or a robber with his gun drawn, is a matter of survival. And being kind towards a customer, a client, a partner, or anyone with the potential to help or benefit us, is once again a matter of self-interest. This is not the type of kindness that measures our true character.
Our true character is measured by how we treat those with no power - those from whom we have nothing to gain by being kind. And especially those from whom we stand to profit from hurting. If we can look at someone whose suffering would seem to benefit us - and refrain from causing that suffering, and instead be compassionate toward them, even though we seem to gain nothing from doing so - that is the true test of who we are inside.
And in the big picture, it's the true test of what kind of society we live in. A society can be measured by how it treats its poorest and most vulnerable members.
There is nothing to gain from being kind to a beggar, a homeless person, or a person with no money or power. And that's precisely why it's so important.
And who has even less power than them? Who is at the very bottom of the pole?
The pig in the farrowing crate. The cow hooked up to the milk machine, whose baby was just stolen from her so people could take her milk and sell it. The chicken who spends her life in a cage so small she never knows what it feels like to spread her wings. They have it the worst. They bear the fullest brunt of our collective darkness.
Not only do we gain nothing from being kind to them, but we have a lot to gain from being cruel. Being cruel is profitable.
And that's exactly why it measures our character, more than anything else - more than our attitude toward Human Rights. Our support for Human Rights can be traced to self-interest. We want humans to have rights because we're humans. We understand that if we strip a right from our neighbor, we set the precedent for that very same right to be stripped away from us. This isn't kindness - this is simply strategy.
Strategic foresight says nothing about us, morally. The thing that measures our morality is how we treat others, absent any strategic reason for doing so. The less we ourselves stand to gain from kindness, the more kind it truly is.
And kindness is the true measurement of culture - the foundation upon which a culture stands.
Deep down, we all know this. Even those of us who pretend not to. We may even be attempting to fool our own selves - but the subconscious can't be duped in this way. It registers. We feel it. We know it. Our liberty rests on our compassion.
With Liberty, Deserving = Preserving.
And not deserving = not preserving.
Even if we write a clever Constitution, with clever checks and balances, to keep our Liberty preserved, we know that ultimately, if we don't deserve it, we'll find a way to lose it. Tyranny upon us is inevitable, as long as we are perpetrating tyranny upon others. If we keep spreading it, it will find a way to creep back upon us, no matter how clever we are.
Stability and Liberty are correlated with morality.
If we abuse those below us
we deserve no protection from those above us.
A community, nation, or race that abuses animals
and refuses the less powerful even the most basic decency
similarly invites and manifests its own social decline and breakdown.
the stability of human rights
rests upon respect for animal rights.
are not a footnote to human rights;
They are the footing upon which our rights stand.