Some images may disturb!
I had a weird dream a while back that set the cogs in motion. It was about villagers in India and a man-eating tiger after a news report, it wasn’t a pleasant dream, but left a niggling thought.
If a man is eaten by a tiger, what must be going through his mind?
Then, I thought about the many animals higher up the food chain that eat other animals, antelope, wildebeest, zebra and the like. Most of us have seen the gory side of nature on TV documentaries, even if we’ve chosen to shut our eyes. Do these animals have thoughts?
Take a lion for example, once he has disabled his prey, they don’t dispatch it humanely, they begin by eating out the abdominal area while the animal in question is still alive and in its death throes.
It is said that man is the only ‘rational’ animal, is it only humans that feel the pain of death? Do less rational animals not have such thoughts?
The this morning I read about a boy in Australia being snatched by a large salty (sea water crocodile). And the thought again surged through me; what did this kid feel or think? Now I’m not trying to lessen the horror of this abduction and possible death (they haven’t found the kid yet and haven’t found a salty with human remains in its stomach).
Obviously the lions, tigers and salties have no remorse at finding and eating their prey.
I extrapolated those thoughts to us. We eat meat, it is relatively humanely dispatched in abattoirs, mostly. We have no remorse at putting a roast of lamb in the oven, unless you are a vegan/vegetarian and believe that animals feel pain.
In having these thoughts, I was transported back in time. Back to when I stayed on a farm as a twelve year old. On Saturday morning, my brother and I were taken to the slaughterhouse after smoko, where we witnessed the killing of two sheep and a ram being killed by slitting their throats with nary a sound apart from a gurgling as they tried to breathe through the blood, but it wasn’t a sound as though through pain, did they feel pain?
That episode left a profound mark on me, I couldn’t face the mutton chops for lunch that day.
But, I never had thoughts of becoming a vegan/vegetarian.
Do I lack empathy?
Am I a psychopath?
No, I’m pretty much an ordinary joe.
But it makes me wonder. Are our thoughts of humanely dispatching animals, or not dispatching animals at all, misguided? Are we extending our own fears of death and experienced pain to animals who don’t feel/fear this.
I know there are many stories of animals who have saved lives, or have dedicated their time to companion departed owners, and the like, but is this the same?
Is their devotion the result of rational thought?
Or is it some natural instinct?
I can go further. Humans think, their thoughts are usually personified in their native language, but how do animals think? How do animals rationalise a thought? In what language?
I don’t have the answers, but I do have questions.