God Likes Animal Sacrifice! I am stunned. Good ethics: god wrong. Animals and ethics: ethics of care are based on empathy. Lack of empathy unethical.
|HOME IDEA EMPORIUM IDEA 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * 11 * 12 * 13 * 14 * 15 * 16* STUPID OPINION * HOW TO THINK|
The Ultimate Reality
The Brain Game
Walls in the Mind,
Give Peace a Chance
innerwear that dares
born with the capacity to feel.
The memory is etched in my mind. I am seven. I am reading a child's version of the bible. Well-meaning friends of my parents gave it to me. Fascinating. It answered so many questions I had never thought of asking. And then something inside me went NO, this can't be. It had to do with god.
This was my first experience of my inside moral voice, my intense inside sense of what is right and what is wrong, going against what I heard outside me. I had had the sense of knowing something was bad - especially that something I was doing was bad - before that. But those times, my inside voice went with the outside voices.
This time was totally different.
Other stuff also made sense to me. The first people were bad and god punished them. That sounded like my sister and myself. We often did things our mother didn't like, such as fight with each other, and my mother got frustrated. After that, the first people had two sons who fought with each other - again so like my sister and myself.
Over two decades ago, I made the choice to stop eating most animals - land animals and birds, especially. When I tell people, a common response (less common than twenty years ago) is: It's our god-given right to eat animals. God gave us dominion over the animals - don't I know that? We're at the top of the food chain because that's how god wants it.
My answer to those people: are you aware that the same
god found it fine to drown billions of animals because he was upset with
people. That very famous story: Noah and the flood - which most people don't recoil from in horror.
I could understand what happened next. The other brother, the one god didn't like, got mad at his brother and killed him. This was worse than anything my sister and I got up to, but I could understand it. I would be totally pissed off if someone who killed an animal got praised for it.
After that the god got mad and punished the brother who was left. Again, not hard to grasp. His favorite had been killed, after all.
I could not take it in, though, that the god liked it better if someone killed animals.
I never quite forgot that initial shock at reading the story of Cain and Abel. I stopped thinking about it, but it stayed lodged deep inside me. My initial shock - coming from love - told me: this is wrong, all wrong.
Over the years I learned that the stories I accepted without questioning - on creation, for instance - were in fact not accurate representations of how people came into existence. I remember my disbelief when I found out about evolution in grade three. The idea of evolution boggled my mind. Horses had once been the size of cats? That was nuts.
No, it wasn't nuts, I learned. It was science. Wow.
Likewise, I learned that, though the
story of Adam and Eve made sense to me - people disobeying and getting
into trouble - again there was no historical backing for it.
I've come to believe, very firmly, that ethics - right and wrong - is above any religion. Slavery, animal sacrifice, the subordination of women, homophobia, no divorce no matter what, no birth control, genital mutilation, the inferiority of some caste or race, a caste system - to say that any of these is backed by a religion, just means there is something wrong with that religion. And in each case, as with anial sacrifice, there is a failure in love and empathy.
But to go back to my seven-year-old self, maybe the foundation for my holding ethics above any religion comes from my utter conviction that it was wrong what that god did, saying it was good to kill animals just to burn them.
It's obvious that I still hold that conviction as
That inner voice that comes from caring, from love, and from feeling the rightness and wrongness of things. When I hear about it in other people, I nod. Yes, I recognize it.
Here are a few instances that have stayed with me.
Chinua Achebe, in Things Fall Apart, captures this inner experience of knowing something is wrong. Nwoye comes from a tribe where newborn twins are put in earthenware jars and thrown into the evil forest. One day, coming home from harvesting yams, he hears crying coming from the forest - and something just breaks inside him. No one has told him anything was wrong with what is done to twins. Yet inside him something breaks.
For Timothy Findley, his own sense of right and wrong seems to have been loudest with the Noah's ark story. I'm remembering a part of the opening of his Not Wanted on the Voyage.
And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his son's wives.
Then he imagines the end of that world, the crying, screaming, flames, dread, horror, panic.
Lillian Smith, in Killers of the Dream, recalls being a young white girl in the south of the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. She stood at the edge of a crowd, listening to a white politician haranguing about black evil, black inferiority. Most of the people listening were white, but among them were black millhands and the town's black doctor (he only treated black people, of course). Inside her, listening to the rant, came tearing voices. "What is wrong, what is wrong? How can he be talking like that. Can't he see they're human, just like us?" Then other voices came, arguing against the first. "But then why are they not with us, in our schools, in our churches?"
Her book is aptly called Killers of the Dream - she felt racism kill the dream of equality inside herself.
Actually, the dream isn't all I see being killed. I see that either we listen to what we hear from deep inside ourselves - or part of our ability to see, to experience, and to respond to reality gets squashed.
My inner voice wasn't silenced. But
there seemed no space for it in the world around me. Everything was just
too puzzling. As for talking to a grownup, I had learned that they had
a hard time listening. My father was likely to give me a long speech
on something or other.
Maybe it happened because we had a dog,
and I loved that dog. Maybe it would have happened anyway. I
believe the breaking came from a deep down in-born sense of connection
What was it that broke? Acceptance of the story I was reading. Belief that the story could be telling something true.
The god I was reading about could scare me. He kept punishing people. But he could not be my kind of god.
So one of the things
that broke was the potential for a deep connection to a religion upholding the tenets of the Old Testament - traditional Christianity, Judaism and Islam, or any religion with similar values. They go against my built-in moral sense.
I wish I could say that I held onto that moment. But it got stored away, in some corner somewhere. Maybe I would never have come across that memory, in another kind of world, one where no one cared about animals, and where belief was rampant in a harsh god who loved having animals sacrificed to him.
But I live in a corner of the world where caring about animals is common.
And I've ended up writing The Fluffers Book, a preteen novel with a dog - an invisible ghost dog - at the center of it. It draws on that deep inner sense about animals - our potential love for them, and their potential love for us. Their inherent value.
I didn't know exactly what I was going to write about when I started. I knew it had to do with the story I read about Abel and Cain in childhood. More, it has to do with one place where our moral sense, our sense of right and wrong comes from - deep inside ourselves, in our connection to others, human and animal and more.
Daryl, USA, August 6, 2009:
FOR ANIMAL LOVERS WHO WANT TO
God Likes Animal Sacrifice! I am stunned.