The Compartmentalization of Compassion
Many of us like to believe we're kind to animals and would never harm them, except in extreme situations. We love our pets, donate to wildlife organizations, and treat animals with affection. However, there's often a disconnect between our words and our actions, and it's all thanks to a psychological phenomenon called compartmentalization.
We all have a deep desire to view ourselves as good, kind, and right, even when our actions don't align with these ideals.
Compartmentalization helps us reconcile conflicting beliefs and actions, preventing cognitive dissonance.
People have a strong inclination to view themselves positively. We prefer to see ourselves as good, intelligent, and kind individuals. We also like to be correct. However, whether we are genuinely correct doesn't matter as much as believing that we are. When we separate conflicting beliefs, our brains try to create a logical structure where our irrational and contradictory thoughts can coexist peacefully. Throughout history, those in power have often used distortions of reality to support their actions. Though it’s undeniable that horrible atrocities have occurred throughout history, in the minds of the people executing these horrible deeds, their actions were just, good, and right.
Applying Rationalization to Speciesism:
To understand compartmentalization and animal rights, let's examine how we put animals into categories:
Pets: Animals we love and care for like family.
Wildlife: Animals we admire and seek to protect.
Livestock or Farmed Animals: Animals we call pork and beef, etc. raised and slaughtered for food, fashion, and other purposes.
We create these categories to avoid acknowledging the conflict between our professed kindness and our actions.
Human Desire for Purpose:
Humans naturally seek purpose in life, often defining it based on how things affect us.
This self-centered view ignores others' (including non-humans), the right to define their own purpose.
Speciesism & Religion
While speciesism remains a common and accepted concept in today's society, often based on religious beliefs, it's essential to consider that many religious texts were written during times when issues like racism, sexism, and heterosexism were perceived differently than they are now. These texts contain verses that discuss topics such as disciplining human slaves, mistreating wives, selling daughters, and even advocating harm to non-believers.
The religious laws that outline how to slaughter animals "ethically" and "humanely" are based on the outdated belief that consuming animal products is necessary for survival. However, for the majority of people reading this post online, this argument doesn't apply since they have access to alternative dietary choices.
The Ethic of Reciprocity:
The Ethic of Reciprocity, also known as the Golden Rule, emphasizes empathy.
Most religions have rules about harming animals because it's recognized as unethical.
While it's essential to respect and preserve diverse cultures worldwide, any cultural practice that causes harm to sentient beings, whether human or non-human, should not be tolerated. It's often easier to criticize practices in other cultures than those in our own, but consistency in condemning harm is important.
Harmful cultural practices, whether directed at humans or animals, should not be tolerated.
Cultural traditions that cause pain should be condemned, regardless of their historical significance.
We often make excuses for our involvement in animal cruelty, such as:
Romanticizing harmful choices
Instead of rationalizing our actions, we should confront them and take responsibility.
Living in Alignment with Beliefs:
Living in accordance with our beliefs requires ongoing self-improvement. It's not enough to talk about being kind to animals; we must act on our beliefs. When we realize our actions contradict our words, we must take responsibility and change. Our beliefs should drive real actions, not just be empty conversation topics.
Don't let a mask of complacency hide the person you truly are.
It's time to bridge the gap between what we say and what we do when it comes to animal rights.