On Shabbat I was thinking about the absurdity of the selection we humans do of other animals. I noticed it when my father joyfully opened the Friday paper to share the funniness of an article about a dog hotel near Jerusalem. He read out loud the different activities the dogs have, the morning walks, the spa treatments, and everyone got a good laugh from the scheduled "twenty minutes of belly rubs".
It was right after they finished eating their chicken.
And I thought, who are we to determine which animals deserve to live and which to die? Which we let suffer and which we pamper and let sleep in our beds (i.e. cats and dogs, usually)? What's the difference between a cow, a pig, a chicken and a dog in terms of their right to live or die or suffer. All of these are intelligent animals. All of these animals know happiness, pain and suffering.
We would never eat dogs, but in China maybe they do. Why is that weird to us? We eat cows. Why do we care about dogs and not cows? "Because the cow is not our pet and we don't feel an emotional connection to them." That does not justify letting them suffer, in my opinion, on an objective level.
In a way we have been doing this selection all throughout history, with urbanization and colonialism, causing certain species to die and others to thrive, as an aftermath of our actions, even if not intentionally. But somehow I know this is different because this is in the hands of the small citizen. If I have a choice to cause suffering and not to cause it, of course I choose not to cause it.
I don't know the answer to the colonialism question and the "natural" process of humans causing animals habitats to change. It's a good question. Where are we in this story, where should we be? How much can we grow without destroying too much? I know I live in a city. What does that mean? I'm not sure yet.
But right now, I have a choice. I can eat an animal and I can also not.
I believe as individuals we need to be responsible to protect the world as much as we can and cause as little damage and hurt as possible. Ecologically, socially, personally, and in every other aspect.
But really, why do you choose to save the dog and kill the cow?
Who are we to interntionally decide which animals deserve life and which a neverending death?