psychopath, n. a person having a character disorder distinguished by amoral or antisocial behaviour without feelings of remorse
amoral, adj. 1. without moral quality; neither moral or immoral.2. lacking or indifferent to moral standards, criteria, or principles
moral, adj. 1. of, or pertaining to, or concerned with the principles of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical
I watched Earthlings for the first time last week with a group of university students that were also seeing it for the first time. Now I’ve been fighting and speaking up for the rights of animals for almost 10 years and I’ve seen a lot of sickening, twisted and horrible animal cruelty caught on tape. I thought I was immune!
But what I saw in Earthlings was so vile and so overwhelming that it truly disgusted me to be associated with the rest of humanity. I wasn’t myself for days. I won’t go into the graphic details of the film, as I’m sure most of you reading this have already seen it. But if you haven’t, I recommend you do, animal activist or not (albeit armed with a good supply of tissues).
As I facilitated the post-film discussion, I asked the teary-eyed kids in attendance if they thought the people committing the incomprehensible acts of violence in the film were psychopaths or if our entire society was psychopathic to allow, promote and participate in the institutionalized cruelty we so easily and without provocation inflict upon the animals.
I believe our society, hell, our whole damn species, is psychopathic. I can’t think of any sane reason for what we do to the animals. We know they feel pain. We know they suffer and bleed and fear death. We know that when they’re beaten they cry out in agony.
We know they can sense when they’re about to be slaughtered and we know they try to avoid it with every fiber of their being. We know they experience terror and we know that their screams are screams of terror and not of indifference. We know it but that knowledge doesn’t stop most of us from doing it.
And what do we make of people like ourselves; part of this violent and sadistic culture yet dedicated to peace and compassion? What makes us different? Not everyone who sees Earthlings, or sees the inside of a slaughterhouse for that matter, will go vegan (although I’m certain many will). Why do some people change while others do not?
Is it perhaps that we are the next link in the evolution of humankind; homo sapiens pathiens (from the Greek pathos meaning to evoke pity or compassion): the wise and compassionate human? I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers.
But I do know that sooner or later some of us will ask ourselves: how do we go on? How do we keep on fighting when 99% of humanity – our friends, family, co-workers and community leaders – have such utter contempt and disregard for the feelings and suffering of animals? How do we go on when it seems like we’re powerless to protect the animals from the evils of the human race?