the current state of animal cruelty laws in today's society.
BY POOJA NAIR
THE HISTORY OF ANIMAL RIGHTS
Life is life - whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man's own advantage. ~Sri Aurobindo
The first chapter of Genesis gives human dominion over the animals: "Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground". This statement from the Bible has been a long time used argument to justify human's supremacy over animals.
The first documented pro-animal activist goes back to 6th century BC with Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher. Pythagoras believed in the transmigration of souls between human and animals, a reason for him to treat animals with respect. Ahead of his time, he opposed meat and religious sacrifices from fear of killing the soul of a loved one, or an ancestor. "Human beings, stop desecrating your bodies with impious foodstuffs. There are crops; there are apples weighing down the branches; and ripening grapes on the vines; there are flavorsome herbs; and those that can be rendered mild and gentle over the flames; and you do not lack flowing milk; or honey fragrant from the flowering thyme. The earth, prodigal of its wealth, supplies you with gentle sustenance, and offers you food without killing or shedding blood." Ovid, "Pythagoras's Teachings: Vegetarianism" Empedocles, 450 BCE, was another pro-animal activist, who talked against animal slavery and the consumption of meat. "Slaughter and meat-eating are the most terrible of sins, indeed for him animal slaughter is murder and meat-eating is cannibalism. He disagreed with his teacher arguing that eating animals was wrong because it robbed animals of their life, that animals could reason, sense and feels like humans do. Eating them was therefore unfair.
The most ancient law about animal right comes from India. It was proclaimed by King Asoka (274-232 BCE), Emperor of India. He became a Buddhist. "Here (in my domain) no living beings are to be slaughtered or offered in sacrifice" (The Fourteen Rock Edicts.) India has a long history of non-violence against humans and animals. Jainism is the strictest religion of the world when it comes to committing violence. Animals' right is very high in the scale of what is important. Jains cover their faces to avoid swallowing bugs inadvertently, and say a prayer every night to ask for forgiveness to animals they might have killed during the day. Classical Roman Empire
Cicero [106-43BCE], Virgil [70-19BCE] and Plutarch [46-120] were all opposed to human's domination over animals and the cruel used they made of them. In their writings, they plead for humankind to recognize the pain animals were enduring because of humans. "And for a little peace of flesh we take away their life, we bereave them of their sun and of light, cutting short that race of life which nature had limited and prefixed for them; and more than so, those lamentable and trembling voices which they utter for fear, we suppose to be inarticulate or insignificant sounds, and nothing less than pitiful prayers, supplications, pleas & justifications of those poor innocent creatures, who in their language, every one of them cry." (Plutarch, Morals) Christianity
St. Chrysostom [c347-407] was against the treatment reserved to animals in the remnants of the Roman Empire. This early father of Christianity opposed this treatment of animals in the arenas in many of his letters. "Why need I speak of the sort of charm which is found in the horse races? Or in the contests of the wild beasts? For those places too being full of all senseless excitement train the populace to acquire a merciless and savage and inhuman kind of temper, and practice them in seeing men torn in pieces, and blood flowing, and the ferocity of wild beasts...