Having just written about the pros and cons of the Egg Products Bill now in the U.S. Congress, one is led necessarily to a broader thought about our treatment of animals. The underlying difficulty, of course, is that we, as the human race, do prey on other species, with little thought or concern for their well-being. Rather than getting better, the fate of the billions of animals sacrificed in factory farming simply grows worse over time, with greater suffering on the part of the animals.
The explosion in the human population of our planet, the “advances” of technology, the entrenched behavior patterns of the developed world and the economic rise of the developing world, all conspire to ensure that this trend will continue – like an unstoppable, relentless march.
Influencing the nature of human beings, bit by bit, a few at a time, which is certainly being done, even very successfully, by the countless dedicated groups and individuals at work throughout the world, through education and raising levels of awareness – is very much work worth doing. It awakens the consciousness of a few humans, greatly alleviates the suffering of some animals, lessens the misery of many, and brings a better life to a few. Helping a few of the earth’s animals is far, far better than doing nothing or than helping no animals at all. If we can help only one in a hundred, then let us focus on that one.
However, as we all suspect, though we are probably not saying so out loud – we are not actually winning in the battle to modify human nature, and there is no actual indication that any winning is going to happen ever on a grand scale. (Though there is no denying that change for the better happens often, even dramatically, on a more modest scale.) If the human race were, on the whole, becoming more compassionate and more enlightened with each passing year, surely we would be noticing fewer, less violent wars; kinder, more civil conduct; and a steady diminution of suffering for animals and for humans. But none of this is happening.
This may sound fatalistic and entirely depressing, but there is no need for depression at all. These are just the facts, and seeing them allows one to step beyond a level of mystery and confusion. “Human progress” is a myth, and a confusing myth at that.
If we seek clarity, we’d do better to focus on another perspective – on being open to any insight from almost anywhere and almost any other time, except here. Any insight that may arrive from other worlds, other visions, other dimensions, or from the most ancient civilizations on our own planet – from their perceptions and realities, often so profoundly forgotten, which may lead us back to a kinder world, would be welcome.
This concept, though at first glance it may seem irrelevant and incomprehensible, is the link between the search for wisdom in ancient cultures and the doomed and bereft state of our own current existence as humans. The pathway lies elsewhere, not here in our hollow, modern perceptions, and elsewhere is where we need to look.
It is noteworthy that many ancient traditions see the world as manifesting in several succeeding worlds, in cycles. As one world comes to an end, another begins. As the most degenerate and cruel age is dissolved finally into nothingness, then a kinder, more noble age is born. It would seem that this would be the direction to look in to glimpse the way through the fogs of the desolation of our present age.
Photo: Lip Kee Yap / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.” / “Red Junglefowl at Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India.” The Red Junglefowl of India is the ancestor of the domestic chicken.