I was, and still am, so nervous to post the main blog for this week. One of the reasons is that eating and killing animals for human ends has never been a problem in my country and in my life. I am afraid of saying something ignorant or stupid. I just don’t know, and should I be sorry? On this topic, I have the inclination to use ignorance as an excuse, and I will try to suppress it, but still, I do not know, and I have never thought about it. So please excuse me if my argument is naïve, shallow, or illogical.
Firstly, I would like to talk about how this topic is related to the previous topic, mass incarceration of people of color. There was a time in history that white American truly believed that black people were less than human, just a little bit more than a beast. Aristotle said that slavery is natural because there are two types of beings: one that cannot use reason and can only work with the body, who deserves to be the natural slave, and the other can use reason and logical thinking, who is by nature superior and should be the master. European colonizers used this logic to argue that black people, since they were savage and could not use reason, they should remain as slave of the white men. Moreover, the notion of teleology—everything is created for an end, a reason, a purpose—is deeply ingrained in the mindset of the European, so this is the logic: Black people are created, and they are natural slave, so we are entitled to use them for our purpose, if not, what else are they good for? And can I say that we use the same reason to talk about our use of animals for food, clothing, safety, and medicine? However, I am unwilling to say that we are doing any great injustice to animals, and even if we do, it is a different kind of injustice that we cannot, and should not, compare it to what happened to the Jews and people of colors. (now, I start to sound like a horrible person! But it’s fine. Call me out and criticize me! That’s fine. Don’t be nice!)
Even though I understand Elizabeth Costello’s logic, I cannot agree with her. To me, there is still something special about human being that I hold above everything else. And the comparison between the Holocaust and the slaughter house Costello used is just absurd to me. That comparison is wrong because, as Mr. Stern the poet put it, “the inversion insults the memory of the death. And it also trades on the horrors of the camps in a cheap way.” I am not saying that there is no similarity between the two, but the comparison itself is just wrong. Since I don’t understand religion, I don’t want to use the religious argument that we are made in the likeness of God so that we are superior to animals. I also hesitate to play the technological advancement card to prove our superiority because that is just a wrong Westernized standardized measurement that even I will lose the game myself. We just do not know about animals and what really is happening in their minds, so that any assumption and comparison is just not enough and is just another iteration of human arrogance and imposition.
I am identified most with Norma in the story, especially when Norma said that relativism leads to intellectual paralysis. If we started to think about animals’ perspectives, should we start thinking about plants’ too? What do we know about any of them, or any of us any way? And now we should ask: where to draw the line? We are trapped in the concerns about those philosophical questions and the different unfathomable supposedly existing perspectives of plants and animals. Yes, we can try to put us in their positions and feel their pains, but I refuse to think about those pains all the time. It is exhausting. It is not because I am lazy, or maybe I am, but I just want to save my energy for other things, like the pain and suffering of other human beings. To me, the use of animals for human’s purpose should not be a moral question.
People eat everything in my country: grasshoppers, rats, animals’ intestine, and partially shelled balut eggs, one of the reasons is that we were starving, and another is that we can. My neighbor used to herd pigs, and at night, they killed the pigs. I cannot count how many nights that I slept in that horrible sounds, and how many times that those sounds truly sounded like human’s call for help and mercy. I grew up in that environment, based on your standard, is my soul messed up?