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Misdirected animal rights activism

A response to PETA's call to abolish the wool industry. When is enough enough and when is it too much? But please don't get me wrong, Peta is a needed to prod to the social conscience and like all ideologies it sometimes strays beyond its mandate. For sure we need to treat animals ethically and with respect so they can live pleasant pain free lives even if they are to be killed and eaten some day.

The word ethics has little meaning because different cultures see things differently. Activities like cockfighting, dogfighting, bullfighting are clearly unethical to some mindsets but are clearly acceptable and therefore ethical to those who practice and profit.

Within Hinduism and Buddhism there is a the concept of causing no harm, this may be described as peacefulness which creates an underlying ethic to guide life. Behind this is the idea of karma, the law of cause and effect. Karma tells us that causing suffering will return suffering to the person or persons who cause suffering and those who profit from suffering yet even these people who cause such suffering are bound by their own karma.

In other words, communities and countries are bound by the karma of ignorance and in many cases poverty. Poverty is not necessarily just physical it is also intellectual due to the failure of modern educational systems. Therefore I am arguing that while organisations like the SPCA and PETA are important, the way we conduct ourselves as individuals and a civilisation are failing in many respects.

Thanks in part to better communications and social media, the bad attitudes toward life that result in animal suffering are becoming more apparent in the public mind. Those few farmers that mistreat their livestock, those pet owners that mistreat their animals are creating their own negative karma and it is as much for their own sake as well as the suffering they cause, they need to be stopped and held to account.

Over the years we have seen campaigns to save various species that are being driven towards extinction and campaigns to stop needless slaughter and suffering of different species. These are very worthwhile and noble activities helping to steer us toward a more peaceful civilisation. Would like to see the eventual outcome is the whole world vegetarian and yet animals are part of our lives.

We have a symbiotic relationship with many animals and even plants. If it weren't for liking of wheat or rice, these plants would scarcely feature on the planet. Similarly our relationship with cats, dogs, other pets and the animals that many people consume as food proliferate around the world and the majority enjoy a good quality of life and a relatively humane death.

In a perfect world perhaps we could all be vegetarians, but this would not end the symbiotic relationships we have with animals. Some would remain as pets but others would remain as vital elements required for the functioning of civilisation. Across Asia, the farmers would still be there buffaloes or oxen to plough the fields, people still need horses to ride so even in the vegetarian world our need for animals would change but not end.

The ways in which we keep and treat animals should be done with respect for their welfare so that they are content without suffering. However organisations like petter occasionally get a little overreactive as is the case with sheep in New Zealand and Australia. In September 2017 the PETA organisation made news headlines by declaring that we should stop shearing sheep and using their wool because some shearers have been witnessed abusing the sheep they are shearing.

On one hand, if sheep are being mistreated one could react by banishing the act of sharing, however if we think about the biology of sheep, they have been bred over thousands of years to produce wool. If there was suddenly no sheep shearing the sheep in existence would lead miserable lives being weighed down by their heavy coats. Of course if shearing was banished, hundreds of millions of sheep would have to be destroyed and as long as people keep eating sheep as food, short wall breeds would have to be favoured by farmers.

Of course without as many sheep and the trade of shearing, a great many farmers and shearers would suffer a huge loss of income. But the most ridiculous point of this debate is that someone from PETA actually advocated that the public should abandon wool as a clothing fibre in favour of synthetics.

That has to be one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard. Wool is a natural fibre and when turned into garments, it has a longer life and serves its purpose far better than any synthetic product. It's also fully biodegradable and where the sheep are well treated, a natural and ethical product.

In contrast turning to synthetic fibres plus the clothing industry back into the hands of the oil industry because the majority of synthetic fibres are all produced from oil taken out of the ground. This would really be a step backwards in our evolution and reinforce the oil industries power and economic reach. This would result in a huge increase in pollution which would have a negative impact on all life on the planet.

Synthetic fibres are not biodegradable and every time synthetic fibres are laundered, there is some structural breakdown of those fibres which are then carried into the ocean to be consumed by oceanic creatures. These particles pass through the food chain to be consumed by people. These particles are essentially plastics which contain highlytoxic act like hormones in the human body causing infertility and cancer.

The fact that animal cruelty exists as a modern tragedy and that tragedy will not end by banishing the wool industry, it would only create a new set of problems. The real problem with cruelty toward animals is that the individuals who are being cruel are ignorant and stupid. They lack a basic education and a basic intelligence, the solution is a proper education.

Therefore I suggest that organisations like PETA need to be as much involved in community education as they are and identifying problems in society. For those people who practice cruelty, they are doing so because they are suffering and have an internal rage that makes them lash out at those less able to defend themselves. We must remember to that PETA is not the squeaky-clean organisation it makes out to be. There have been many reports that PETA like the RSPCA collect's stray and unwanted pets then destroys them enmass.


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