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Respect for Animals, Dignity for Ourselves

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24 December 2011
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SOS Gaia in Second Life for animal defense


Animals are  part of the planet's natural Peoples. They have their own cultures based on relationship with nature.

Native Peoples, from Native Americans to Native Europeans, have always held animals in respect and they consider them respectable brothers with whom to live in harmony. According to native Peoples, whoever shows no respect for animals also shows no respect for mankind.

Natural Peoples consider other forms of life as co-inhabitants of one and the same environment, not separated from humans on account of their different forms and with more or less equivalent faculties to those of humans.  The situation is not  mirrored in majority-led societies, where a particular set of reasons, deriving from religions, has relegated other life forms to a simple function of nature as objects available exclusively to humans for their uses or whims.

The planet offers a rich display of various forms of life, apart from humans, occupying the skies, the seas and the same land where humans live.

Majority-led societies generally interact for the most part with those forms of life commonly identified as animals.  These are stripped of every possible vestige of intelligence or feelings.  In point of fact, humans in the majority-led societies utilise them as a basic diet and a source of protein intake, being supported in this habit by a limited number of commercial elites who literally prosper on the backs of these unwitting living beings.  In this context, breeding and butchering camps are set up and run with efficiency and productivity as a top priority.

Majority-led societies, though, do not restrict themselves just to the systematic butchering of selected animals, they also use them as slaves in those areas where energy sources are limited or controlled by exclusive power groups. In this case the situation is identical to what used to happen between humans in the productive societies of the past, where, instead of  developing new technologies, human slaves were used for carrying out manual labour. A further, successive development of this saw the use of the weaker social classes by other, less numerous, classes who somehow managed to wield their power over the others.

In other situations animals are also killed in pursuance of various practices peculiar to majority-led or productive societies, as in the case of ritual killings in religions or killing elevated to a level of sport for the psychological needs of the hunting classes. However, there is a high price to pay in these  societies for these forms of  violence, with the disastrous effects of a carnivorous diet on individuals and a permanent state of social conflict.


Once human superiority over animals had been confirmed, a set of  categories was established and with them the introduction of a dangerously corruptive principle that has brought about the consequence of humans losing touch with the harmony of nature. The same principle has been transferred to humanity itself, creating racial  and sexual supremacy. This kind of corruption has generated futile conflict and suffering and slowed down the whole of human progress, leading to a situation  where humanity is depriving itself of the experience of other portions of the heavens.

But this way of looking at animals does not come about by chance, nor does it represent a de facto situation. The problem springs from a particular outlook on things, which conditions human behaviour in their relationship with life and which leads them to accept acquired truths with no experimental backing. This outlook not only conditions humans in their daily decision-making, but even sets bounds on science, which, from its own standpoint, instead of basing its theories on a starting position of impartiality towards the animal question, adopts religious positions that encourage it to study other species to discover whether or not they are capable of expressing their own intelligence.

This outlook justifies the view of animals as automatons to be enslaved and killed for food or ritually sacrificed and that such barbaric behaviour should even be considered normal!


Spirituality in animals

If existence features a capability of transmuting the quality of experience, why should this capability be attributed exclusively to humans?

Science claims to be impartial, and yet it treats the question of animals with the prejudice that they are automatons incapable of feelings or developing intelligence on a level with humans. It does not study the matter objectively and try to understand what other life on the planet might represent.  It simply applies a prejudice and that is all. Once again there is the sensation of that subtle, pervasive obligation that the mass religions manage to impose, in this case even over science.


Inevitably, the Natural Peoples, free of this obligation, view the identity of animals in a more pragmatic, objective light. The preconception demotes animals to the rank of automatons without feelings. Looking at the situation without preconceptions, however, places humans and animals together and enables them to discover an experience that is common to all life forms.  Beyond all the prejudices bearing on this subject, some interesting or even amazing discoveries can be made, for example that animals do have feelings and that they are on the same level as humans in possessing a value of conscious suffering. It is also possible to realise that so-called ‘animals’ are actually beings equipped with self-awareness and that they consciously manage their lives taking account of the same existential questions that humans ask themselves.

This line of thought goes a long way, because it leads to the realisation that it is a mistake to discard automatically the possibility that, just as with humans, animals may include individuals who are capable of developing their own spirituality. It also goes without saying that questions should be asked about the meaning of spirituality, extended to include other species as well. What is more, is that a sense of brotherhood may be acquired, which embraces animals and may unite us with the whole of existence.


SOS Gaia in Second Life has long been promoting an effort for animal defense with several initiatives like exhibitions, live concerts, conferences etc.

The animals are the weakest among the weak ones. SOS Gaia, based in Ecospirituality Foundation Land, intends to help the animals in difficulty through initiatives and events for the animals, to constitute a world-wide network to unite the efforts, to share information, to find a house to the abandoned animals, to created the sensibility on the problem of the animals.


www.eco-spirituality.org/sosgaia.htm

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