Monday, November 26, 2012
Hunting for a Reason to Kill Bambi
Some humans seem to enjoy killing.
Take hunting, for example. I just don't get it.
Don't misunderstand me, I know ranchers need to protect their livestock. And I understand killing animals to avoid overpopulation and throwing the food chain out of whack.
What I don't get is the "sportsmen" (and women) who use population control as an excuse to get their jollies by killing Bambi or Donald Duck. These kind of people seem to think it's an accomplishment to kill a badly overmatched animal that isn't threatening them and isn't necessary to their survival. They laugh and boast about it, all the while going on ad nauseam about the "thrill of the hunt."
Sure, many hunters actually eat the meat of the animals they kill, and/or use their skins. But that doesn't explain the enjoyment they get out of killing. Back in the day - way back in the day - if your family were starving and you brought down a buck or a bison, it made sense to get excited. It meant you'd get to eat. Which meant you'd get to survive another day or two.
But without that kind of incentive, enjoying a "kill" makes no sense to me.
I'm not a hardcore vegan or vegetarian. Humans are omnivores. I'm not passing judgment on anyone's choice of diet. What I'm questioning is why people insist on hunting when it's not necessary. Do they hate animals? Or do they think supposedly "lesser" creatures were put on this earth solely to amuse a bunch of arrogant buffoons at the top of the food chain. (That would be us.) Maybe they think to themselves, "Animals don't feel pain, and if they do, what does it matter? Didn't God give us dominion over them to do with them as we see fit?"
Except God didn't. Various scriptures depict various gods demanding that humans kill animals on altars for their (the gods') enjoyment. These deities were obviously the ones in charge. So it's no surprise that some people use religion as an excuse to kill animals. To them, it isn't about controlling the population or keeping predators away, it's because some god supposedly demands it.
They lop off a cow's head or stab a camel in the chest or brutalize some other defenseless animal - all for the sake of some religious ritual. But here's the cold, hard truth: If you're using religion to justify animal cruelty, you're not practicing religion. You're practicing cruelty. Period. End of discussion. Many of these same gods once demanded that we sacrifice humans for their pleasure, but at least we've gotten past that - unless you count the millions who are slaughtered in religious wars around the world.
It boils down to this: A lot of people seem to think gods are better than people, and people are better than animals. But is that really the case?
What if we were to try an alternative way of thinking? Instead of placing degrees of value on life, why not simply value life itself? If we as a species chose to make life more important than religion, more important than recreation, maybe we'd learn something. About ourselves. About the universe. About those we share that universe with.
Self-defense? Survival? That's not what I'm talking about.
I'm talking about people who kill animals in the name of sport or spirituality and who, in doing so, reveal something starkly horrific about the human condition: When you peel away all the rhetoric and rationalization, some people don't kill because they have to. They kill because they want to.
And that, my friends, isn't just scary. It's horrifying.