IDEAS AND OPINIONS

Read Dr. Stokes' ideas and opinions
about today's issues.

 

The Human – Animal Bond

July 19, 2021. Pittsburgh, PA.

It amazes and scares me how humans treat our fellow animal inhabitants of this planet we call home. We show loves and kindness on the one hand, cruelty and selfishness on the other. A significant part of the problem lies not just in the struggle humans have to treat our fellow human beings with understanding, love, and compassion, but that we struggle to recognize the equal rights and equal worth we share with other animals. There is nothing inherent to our species or to existence as we know it that says humans are necessarily any better than other animals, and yet we treat them with the cruelty and inhumaneness we would never want visited upon ourselves.


This human-centered and species-centered view of the world echoes the geo-centrism, ethnocentrism, heteronormativity, and sexism that have plagued our species. So great those in power like to think they are that those in power have often marginalized others, placing those with perceived power at the center of the communities of races, cultures, genders, sexes, and sexualities around us. It is time for us to open our eyes and move beyond such conceits.


Other animals deserve our love and respect, and to be treated as equals, not as pets or beasts of burden. Dogs, for example, have been shown by recent research to be sentient, thinking beings. They communicate with each other. They care for their young and the sick. They demonstrate culture and learning that can be passed down from one generation to the next. We invest millions of dollars every year in the search for intelligent extraterrestrial intelligent life, all the while overlooking the intelligent life that surrounds us every day.


Further Reading:


Gatti, Roberto. 2015. "Self-consciousness: beyond the looking-glass and what dogs found there." Ethology, Ecology, and Evolution. Retrieved July 19, 2021 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283840638_Self-consciousness_beyond_the_looking-glass_and_what_dogs_found_there .


Gamillo, Elizabeth. 2021. "Dogs May Be More Self-Aware Than Experts Thought." Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved July 19, 2021 from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/canines-may-have-more-self-awareness-how-their-paws-take-space-180977081/ .


Guillo, Dominique and Nicolas Claidiere. 2020. "Do guide dogs have culture? The case of indirect social learning." Humanities and Social Science Communications. Retrieved July 19, 20201 from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-020-0515-3 .