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Animal Rights Thinkers of the Past

Story ID:7874
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various England
Year:1900
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Have you ever gotten up on a Saturday morning and felt like doing
absolutely nothing? Well, I must admit - a most unusual feeling for
me, but today is such a Saturday.

I've fed my two upstairs cats, fed the birds, and still have time before
I feed my other cats and bunny in my partially finished basement.
Oh yes, I've had breakfast and don't have to worry about my daily
liturgy until 4 this afternoon. So, what to do to start me going?

What about a start to clearing up my long list of Favorites on the
computer? They have been sitting there - doing next to nothing and
probably using precious computer space. And so, I began looking to
see what I have saved.

I spied "Chloe's Vegan Recipes," I usually love trying new recipes, but
sadly, my zest for cooking and baking has diminished quite a bit of late.
However, I still clicked her site in hopes of enlarging my cooking
repertoire and enjoying a new dish or a baked goodie. My sweet
tooth took me to her Beach cookies and yes, I'm going to try them-
some day, but probably not today. I should really be doing some
cleaning!

The next link -"Checking BBB Approved Charities." I'm glad I saved this
one. I can always find out more about the animal charities especially,
though finding out about them and being able to support them is two very
different things. However, I would like to know how they fared on this
site anyway. One I looked up gave no information re their organization.
Well, right or wrong, this seems ominous to me, and I doubt I could support
or even be interested in a charity which is not forthcoming.

But the one which really grabbed my attention was "Clergy Animal Rights
Advocacy!!! (Yes, they really used 3 exclamation points in their title.) As a
person who believes that religion should lead us to compassionate treatment
of animals, so far I have been sorely disappointed in almost all of the major
religions - including my own. However, this 16 page offering listed the
animal religious views of clergymen basically who wrote their concern for them
and even one Jesuit's lack. While very happy for the majority who have
written compassionately, I am disappointed that it is obvious that so little
of their thoughts and writings have been incorporated into everyday
religious teachings.

While the site acknowledges that there were compassionate writers even
in the 18th Century, this site deals primarily with the 19th and 20th century
views of mostly caring prelates. I liked their introduction to "Late Nineteeth Century"
and it serves as a somewhat summation of why there is a need for Animal
Rights thinking;

'THERE ARE A GREAT MANY PEOPLE WHO SEEM TO THINK THAT MAN'S
DUTIES BEGIN AND END WITH MAN; AND THAT IF THEY TELL THE TRUTH
HABITUALLY, FOREBEAR FROM INJURING THEIR NEIGHBORS, AND ESCHEW
THEFT, DISHONESTY, AND THE LIKE, NOTHING ELSE IS REQUIRED OF THEM
BY GOD IN THEIR RELATION TOWARDS OTHER CREATURES. BUT NOT ONLY
EVERY HUMAN BEING, BUT EVERY LIVING BEING HAS ITS RIGHTS; AND
JUSTICE IN THE HIGHEST FORM SHOULD BE APPLIED TO IT IN ALL OUR
ACTIONS. I SAY THAT A LAME OR INFIRM HORSE HAS A RIGHT TO CLAIM
THAT IT SHOULD NOT BE WORKED; AND JUST AS ONE MAN SHOULD BE
PROTECTED FROM ILL-TREATMENT BY ANOTHER, SO, ON THE SAME
PRINCIPLE, OUGHT ALL ANIMALS TO BE PROTECTED FROM ILL-TREATMENT."

I didn't realize I had hit the Caps button when I started to type, but then decided
the caps should stay as the thoughts were important enough and generally
reflective of the compassionate thinking of many of the clergy here. If everyone
would abide by this anonymous writer's thoughts, what a different world
this would be for the animals- one I am sure God would approve.

I am proud that a woman -Dr. Anna Kingsford became a leading figure in
the Victorian anti-Vivisection movement. Though she died in 1888, The
Vegetarian News published some of her views in 1929: "It did not occur
to me by any natural process of thought that the innocent and harmless
creatures around had the same right to live and enjoy their grant of life
even as I had myself. A valued friend and relative clearly and incisively
showed me how much Christianity in its accredited teaching seemed
to lack consistent professors of a religion which claimed to be one of
justice and compassion....."

And right she was in this assertion because the Rev. H.J. Williams -Rector of
Kinross and founder of the original Order of the Golden Age wrote in 1898
his abhorence of reading two pages (pp.249,250) written in "Moral Philosophy"
by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (1845-1932). Of them he wrote:

"Certain teachings have gone forth from the 'Society of Jesus,' which for its
callousness and bruality I forbear to put on your pages, ............I beg, as a true
and loyal Catholic, not only for myself but for other humane Catholics who
abhor cruelty to animals and indifference to their sufferings, and have been
therefore scandalized by this teaching, to express publicly our entire
abhorrence of it, whether it comes from the author of this manual or from any
other authority inside or outside of the Church, because it is, to speak mildly as
possible, mean and low and heartless......."

To be fair - there are other compassionate Catholic voices and I was pleased
to read from Dom Ambrose Agius O.S.B. who wrote this in "Cruelty to Animals, 1958.

".........when man arrogates to himself the capacity to use animals in his service,
irrespective of their own natural rights (and this, incidentally, has been a
dogma of the Roman Catholic church for long enough and is, in my judgment,
basically irreconcilable with Christian teaching) it is to be condemned by
the Christian."

"....I believe we shall be on the right track which leads finally to the end of
violence and the achievement of a just social order which will leave none of
God's creatures out of the Kingdom which it is our Father's good pleasure
to give to us."

I enjoyed reading the whole 16 pages on this topic which contained so many
wonderful compassionate thoughts of English Protestant and Catholic
religious leaders of the 19th and 20th century. I'm disappointed that there
were no religious voices from America or the other European countires in
this regard. God bless you Englishmen - no matter your gender for leading
the way. We need many more still from all religious circles -since it sems to
me that so many of us are unable to realize the importance and need to be
compassionate towards God's animal creatures.

I'm glad this Saturday started differently. I was able to find inspirational voices
for God's animal kingdom and that is always a pleasure for me.