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Compassion for Ducks

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TIA,

I just read your article Are Ducks Animals or Divinities?

What the hell is wrong with you?! Man, you folks are off the bubble! Very few people think that ducks are equal to man. However shoving fifty chickens into a square foot area and feeding them growth hormones, which they do, is also not the way to treat "God's creatures." I have no trouble eating meat but I would like my animals to come from farms, not factories (as most do) and I do think animals should be treated with some kind of compassion. As it is, animals raised for food don't have the same kind of "rights" as pets, which is fine but I think they should be treated with some dignity and I’m a little wary of eating an animal that has never seen the daylight and spent its entire life in a stressful, unnatural environment. You should be too!

I was forwarded this story from a friend and I can’t believe how freaking nuts you are, no wonder everyone's leaving the Catholic Church.

      P.L.C.

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TIA responds:


Mr. P.L.C.,

In your tumultuous and uncivil message you mixed three different topics, which we will distinguish out of consideration for other readers who may have some similar problems.
  1. All animals should be raised with dignity and compassion like pets;

  2. They should not be raised in closed or stressful places in any mass production process, but in open areas like farms.

  3. They should not be fed growth hormones.
You reached the obtuse conclusion that if someone does not agree with these requirements he is crazy, and this would justify that many people are leaving the Catholic Church.

Let us address this “argument.”

1. “Treat animals with dignity and compassion”

Animals, like plants and minerals, were created to serve man. This is clearly stated by God Who commanded man to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth” (Gen 1:28). The vital principles of animals and plants only operate during their existence. Plants and animals do not have post-mortem lives. Minerals are already dead.

Regarding the accomplishment of the goals for which they are created, there are different types of closeness to man that animals can have:

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Exotic gold fish give pleasure to man
First, there are animals that live in close proximity to man. God created them to help him travel (horses), guard him and his property (dogs), keep predators from infesting his house (cats); or just to distract and please man (canaries and exotic fish). The latter have little practical utility but can provide enjoyment to some persons. Given this proximity, man acquires a certain familiarity with these animals. A shepherd appreciates the dog that watches over his sheep; a traveler rewards his horse after a successful journey; a housewife takes good care of the cat that frees her of rats and mice.

The animal exists just to accomplish its aim in assisting man. When a good horse breaks its leg, you don’t take it to a hospital; you put it down because it became useless. When a hunting dog loses its sense of smell, you replace it. This is not a crime or a demonstration of cruelty; it is the normal procedure of any balanced people throughout history.

Historians have noted that one of the signs that a civilization is reaching its end is when people transfer the natural affection they should have for their neighbor to animals and start to take too much care of them. An example is Greece, where such affection led to bestiality. This was so widespread that Greek mythology became filled with tales of this perversity before it disappeared. In Rome affection for animals was also common shortly before the Roman Empire lost its significance. Emperor Caligula, for example, loved his horse so much that he made it a senator.

In a balanced people, familiarity with animals does not lead to affection, but rather an appreciation for the finality for which the animals exist.

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It is unbalanced to have compassion for pigs
Second, there are animals that were created for the maintenance of man. Cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and geese, and also numerous kinds of fishes, crustaceans and mollusks were created to glorify God by serving as food for man. These animals are not particularly close to man. You may like having a dog at your feet while you smoke your pipe in your chair; you would never put a pig in its place. You can enjoy a canary singing in the parlor; you would never put a turkey there gobbling every time you speak. You don’t have familiarity with these animals, you keep them out of your house.

Such animals are raised to be eaten. You feed your turkey to butcher it and serve it at the table for the joy of your family. Doing this you show yourself to be a good provider for your family, not a murderer.

The good cook elaborates delicious plates with these animals. No balanced man has compassion for these slaughtered animals while he eats them. On the contrary, he enjoys eating them. Great events and festivals are celebrated with fine suppers and banquets.

For the first and second kind of animal the Church gives blessings to prevent disasters and diseases, and make them grow well to fulfill their aims.

What about cruelty to animals? When a scientist uses a rabbit or a frog to test his theories, is he being cruel? We don’t think so, since animals exist for man, when they are being used in experiments that aim to provide some benefit to mankind, the use is justified.

This doesn’t mean that we should approve a boy who tortures his cat or plucks the feathers of a chicken for fun. We think that this kind of sadism is as condemnable as the mentioned affection for animals. They are both wrong and reveal a psychological or moral disturbance in a person.

Third, there are animals that are hostile to man. Lions, tigers, panthers, wolves, hyenas and other predators are harmful either to man or his cattle. They should be hunted insofar as they cause danger to man or his property.

2. “Animals should not be raised in closed places”

No doubt that the animals raised on farms are better to eat than those raised in close quarters. They have more taste and are better for our health. Notwithstanding, when you have cities with millions of inhabitants, normally you do not have conditions to eat animals raised only in that preferred way. Some people will be able to obtain and pay more for organically raised meat and poultry. Others will not. Then, the industrialized production of chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese is a necessity.

This kind of factory farming is a consequence of the big city. You cannot demand that everybody eat only farm-raised livestock unless you want to deprive large segments of the population access to meat and poultry.

While it is legitimate to feed a populous city in this way, it is also legitimate to strive to have better quality meat or poultry. Some quality restaurants have farms where they separate some cattle before they are butchered. To have a more tender meat, the owners keep the cattle corralled for several months and feed them special portions of corn. We don’t see any moral problem with this procedure.

3. “Animals should not be given hormones”

In this point we agree with you. Yes, we are also against growth hormones fed or administered to animals to increase their weight.

These are some common sense arguments that support the practice of raising animals for the needs and pleasure of man.

Eco-terrorism

Now, let us quickly look at the reasoning behind eco-terrorism, of which Mr. P.L.C. seems to be a covert partisan.

For an eco-terrorist God is immanent in every creature. This is a pantheist theory disseminated by various pagan philosophies, principally Buddhism. If every creature has a bit of divinity inside itself, then every animal also has such divinity. So, a duck would have a dignity and would deserve a compassion analogous to that which a man deserves.

According to this kind of ecologist, if you consider an animal as being created for the use of man, you would be committing a kind of blasphemy against the immanent God present in it.

This is the reason for the fury of the eco-terrorists against the Catholic Church. She teaches us that a transcendent God created everything entirely different from Him, not with bits of divinity. She also teaches us that animals were created for the use of man.

     TIA correspondence desk

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