We have some interesting beliefs in our culture about animals: dogs and cats are fine as pets; cows and sheep are good to eat; bulls to fight; horses to race.

Of course, in some cultures, anything goes.

I have no issue with any of this. I think, though, that it would serve us to recognise that all of life, no matter what form it takes, is sacred. If we must sacrifice any creature, let us do so with solemnity: as a sacrament to the process of life and death; as a veneration of creation and destruction.

I do have one beef, if you will. If you eat meat of any kind, you really cannot condemn those who eat a different kind of meat … Dog, horse, pony, cat … Whether an animal is ‘cute’ or not, is not a justification for whether you should be able to slaughter it or not. That is silly.


Much of our own existence as human beings can be seen in our relationship with other animals.

We seem either to idealise them, as being innocent, natural and majestic – which we are not; or we are embarrassed by them, because of our own animal nature and urges; or we seek power and dominion over them, attacking them as a threat to us, or merely as sport. Or, without even being aware of the process, as dinner.

None of these approaches seems realistic or to our benefit. Let us recognise them – warts and all – and co-exist with them as best we can. For, good or bad, we are one of them. And how we act towards them defines us.

© Phillip A. Klein March 2008

Published in: on March 13, 2008 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment