How our Fellow Animals make Primates of us all

Over the last 20 years there has been increasing scientific evidence of the reality that “animals” vary little from homo sapiens in terms of their capacity to feel, to have cognition and to be aware of their circumstances. That very ‘useful’  set of historical assumptions  of the lack of true ‘awareness’ of other species compared to  homo  sapiens, which has enabled those of us who  wish to kill  or hurt other species on  the grounds of their implicit inferiority to  humans, has now been fully discredited.

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Tilly

It is therefore inevitable that, over the next few decades, a global ethical and moral shift to the full valuing of other sentient life on our little planet will occur. This will in turn translate into a massive reduction in meat eating by homo sapiens and the need for environments where other species are respected and protected. While this world-wide ethical  and moral  shift  and its translation  into  alternative action to  value other species as we would our own, may currently appear absurd to my dear readers, it is worthwhile to  consider how rapid the global moral  and ethical  shifts against issues such  as slavery or the rights of women have occurred in  the last  200 years.

It is therefore vital that  both  states and individuals  start to  explore both the implications of that shift in  attitude towards   species other than our own, and to  assist  in  driving that  change towards a better world for all of us who  inhabit this little blue world.

While the challenges to the economic environment  of those state entities whose economies are predominantly reliant  on the export of meat  are  undoubtedly immense if we are to  shift  to a  no-kill  economy;  the opportunities as a world leader in environmental  and species ethics  and practice are also  enormous.

The evidence for the greater efficiency and sustainability of a non-meat based agrarian economy is out there now; we can start to plan for this inevitable change or be sidelined by other more ethical and forward looking economies.  No-kill agricultural produce that is produced in a fully environmentally sustainable way, will be in huge and ever-increasing demand as the ethical  and moral  framework of our  species shifts its awareness in  the decades to come.

Given the indisputable evidence that other animals than homo sapiens have the same value and senses as ourselves, it is imperative that all laws regarding the management of animals ensure that no cruelty or suffering is permitted under government regulation.

In just one of many examples of research into  animal  behaviour that  explores the real  capacities of  other species,  the recent  Guardian article on the work  of Tetsuro Matsuzawa at  the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University exposes how chimpanzees on  a number of cognitive fronts are superior to  homo sapiens .

It is important to  note that  all  research  by homo sapiens is naturally slanted to  place positive  attributes on  those skills that  are traditionally deemed “human”,  and to either ignore , minimise,  ridicule or even simply not observe those skills and attributes  of other species that  are less familiar to us or deemed by  humans to be not important or irrelevant. In addition,   our sensory range  as humans limits our capacity to  even understand at  a basic level ,  th edepth of  awareness of many other species.

One revealing comment by  Prof. Matsuzawa in  the Guardian article is his statement that “As humans evolved and acquired new skills – notably the ability to use language to communicate and collaborate – they lost others they once shared with their common simian ancestors. “Our ancestors may have also had photographic memories, but we lost that during evolution so that we could acquire new skills,” he says. “To get something, we had to lose something.”  As the supremely arrogant and species-centric organisms that humans are;  we have  glorified our  skills, while ignoring our sensory  and cognitive deficits in  comparison  to other species on the planet.

Perhaps our most unique  skill, is our capacity to   manipulate our environment  to  suit our own ends. It is likely to also be our, and the rest of the species on this planet’s , undoing.

Postscript

A recent article in  The Guardian entitled “The American lawyer seeking human rights for chimpanzees” examines with  some incredulity and implied mirth at  the idea-that  a US lawyer is campaigning for chimpanzees  to have the same legal rights as human beings.  The article references the NonHumanRights Project ;  one of the first  of many  human organisations devoted to  rights and equality for all sentient beings on this planet.

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