Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Taking Lives

I heard from someone today that there is apparently a difference between being willing to kill a cat or a dog and being willing to kill a human being. Now, that's where being a Buddhist for the past 42 years or so makes me different from the community that surrounds me. I do not see a difference, and I doubt I ever will.

While I respect that other people have different viewpoints about life, that does not mean that I feel bound to agree with them. In my own (very personal)view, the life of a cat, dog, or any other animal has as much value as that of a human life. I make no distinctions between them. There is no objective system of weights and measures that I put on the value of a life.

I much prefer my own view simply because I have been a student of history all my life and have seen human beings justify the murder of other human beings simply by dictating that they are something less than human. When causing a death is justified simply by how you define your victim, then that's not a good thing in my opinion. You know, there's a reason so many serial killers start with small animals. It's honing their skills without so much risk. After all, our society doesn't really value those victims.

I hit a deer about two years ago. I was going the speed limit in the middle of the day, and whammo ... suddenly there was a deer on the hood of my car. I raced to the nearest phone to call for help and waited until there was someone there who could put the poor deer out of its misery. I still feel awful that, accident or not, I had to be the cause of that death. For most of the people I know here in Texas, the main concern for them seems to be how much it cost to repair the car. That's the point at which I realize that I now live in a part of the world where I will probably never fit in.

However, if becoming a "real Texan" means abandoning all that I believe about life and death, then I'll pass on that honor. I'll just live here without the title, and go on doing my best to help animals that others have abused or abandoned. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a lot of people who live in Texas who feel the same way as I do ... and I hope a whole bunch of them start moving into this area ... and soon.


Gabrielle said...

Good post. I can relate to how you feel.. I can't say I'm buddhist (I consider myself a christian pagan I suppose..lol) but I do seem to be incorporating more buddhism into my beliefs the past few years.

Getting Results said...

Ricky!!! You know I share your beliefs on the value of animal lives. To piggy back on what you said - my greatest fear living in Michigan - hitting a dear and causing it great pain and suffering. My least concern is the damage it would do to my car (which could be considerable given I drive a Mini Cooper).
Anyway, here is my second thought - I see general society as being backwards on the following - it is okay to use animals for science and do things to living creatures that provide the true source of unconditional love that would make Guantanamo look like Disney World. why exactly is this okay - and who are we to believe that as humans we are somehow a superior species. In my Buddhist opinion, animals are the more superior being given their level of presence (a totally different topic).
Final thought - if we are willing to put animals out of their misery when they are dying in pain, why is it not okay for a consenting adult to choose assisted suicide (aka putting a human 'down to sleep')?