An Essay by Tsvetomir Naidenov
How do I Understand Animal Protection
Our planet the Earth is more than 30,000 light years from the centre of a spiral galaxy whose glitter sinks into the infinity of the other 200 billion galaxies. Although the scientific and technical achievements of human mind are making progress, there still has been no evidence that life beyond the Earth exists. That deprives us of our illusions that the Earth like an environment for living has alternatives and gets us back to the thinking of the really existing objects and subjects - here and now. This is one of the major reasons our destructive towards nature consciousness in the world globalization today to be replaced by a more ecologically oriented consciousness. Ecological consciousness itself is concerned with the ethical attitude and indivisibility of the natural and the social in the modern world. One of the major directions our ecological mind has declared is preservation of biological balance and harmony on the Earth through protection of animal species.
Animal protection is the manifestation of ecological consciousness, ethical attitude and perception of the problem not as outer but as inner and concrete social reality. Animal protection is also the manifestation of anxiety towards unpredictable consequences of the activities accomplished by various institutions, social groups and states on the place we live in. And finally but not last animal protection is the effective struggle towards animal suffering any way.
As a young person, like everybody else, I also have idealistic view towards the whole world around me, including animal world. Some people bring the animal matter only to if animals are reasoning creatures or not and the consequences that thesis. For me, however, the question is not if animals can reason or not, if they can speak or not but if they can suffer. "The question is not can they reason? nor can they talk? but, can they suffer?" Suffering brings up the problems, questions our world and thus we start defending ourselves not only from us ourselves? but also from the rest of the animal world.
Animal protection has been a very discussed issue over the last years. These discussions, leading not once to arguments of political and economical character, find expression in the implementation of legislative policy in different countries. I would point only at the EU norms here. Eight years ago the European Commission passed a separate chart which regulates animal welfare. In 2003 the Euro Commissioner Franz Fishler took an initiative which aimed at outlining concrete measures for actualization of the European legislation in the field of policy towards animals. The final result was making a Law for keeping, transportation and trade of animals within the Union. The present essay competition was one of the major reasons to study this law in details. As a result of my study, I can find that the present normative acts not only respond to the real necessities but also give people and the other representatives of the animal world the same rights in some principal respects. Leading such a purposeful policy, our politicians have apparently been taught a good lesson by their European colleagues and after a lot of practice and scientific consultations they have made an Ordinance, worthy from social and natural point of view. I would not like to make the readers go deep into the essence of the law (The Ordinance) but is necessary to know that without ecological law and its application the social influence on nature would be mere talk. Ordinance #25, 10th June 2003, called Protection and Humane Treatment of Laboratory Animals is definitely a legislative act, which does not allow any privilege to the human at the expense of the natural. Actually law regarding animal creatures make us go back to the lost first seven years necessary for a person to master some of the ways of behaviour and tolerance. It is offensive the least, it is something completely natural because our reality presumes not only today but in the future, a purposeful gaze at the environment and the animal world like a basic component of it.
From the legislative point of view we could mention a European country that has its own traditions in law. Germany is the country where the conservative thinking that some day it would turn out that animals have more rights than people ruled some years ago. This way of thinking has been overcome. As a result today Germany is one of the examples for humane treatment and protection of animals. Germany is also the first European country that guarantees animal rights in its Constitution. A majority of the lawmakers voted in a clause from the German Constitution, which guarantees preserving people's dignity, to be added "animals too."
In order not to sound too scholarly, it would be appropriate if I mention some essential problems concerning animal protection. And if I have brought up only the normative side of the problem above, it is turn now to put concrete questions with a view to differentiate the positive experience until present from the forthcoming in the near future.
The international foundation "Pfier Photen" differentiates three groups of animals: wild animals, laboratory animal and domesticated animals. Thus, by emphasizing the concrete problems the vision of animal protection will be built.
If we speak about wild animals, my view is that there is no guarantee for animal protection more serious than the normative security and the government as well as the local authorities concern. Animal protection is not one-side and one-dimension process here. An eloquent example for the concrete reality in Bulgaria is the wild brown bears. Certain people organize their chase. When they catch the bears, anaesthetize them, tame and train them and make them a working resource. Even in a comic moment at some extent like this one, we have to remember that wild animals suffer first when they were forced to leave their environment and second because of the conditions they have been put into afterwards. The wild animals in the zoos also lead pitiful existence behind the bars of the narrow wagons. They are regularly exposed in the ring and they are made to perform unnatural tricks and numbers. All this happens despite the fact that most of these poor animals could lead the natural for them way of life only in wild nature. This problem does not concern only wild bears in Bulgaria but also the representatives of all animal species chased, caught and traded. Once again, my opinion on solving this problem is concrete and adequate legislative and executive initiative.
In behalf of scientific progress and development of biotechnology sacrifices have also been made. These sacrifices are called "laboratory animals." The question here is not if animals should or should not be used for experimental studies. The main question here is how to increase the effectiveness of experiments and at the same time to decrease the number of animals used for. This problem has been clarified inside us because every time someone tries to joke with us we feel like guinea pigs or we think someone is trying to confirm or deny some social or economical models on us or at our expense. This consciousness is completely natural because we have accepted a certain model as the traditional one, we have accepted that rabbits and mice are experimental animals before anything else. But are experiments with life a tradition? No, they aren't, are they? Such thought exactly brings up the question for protection of experimental animals. My view here is that protection would be effective in case we, like individuals, switch on the ethical apparatus inside ourselves which includes not only mastering reality but also its change. However, change not at the expense of the natural but change in the social model and the generally accepted in the society interpretations of living forms.
Animal protection should be applied to another group that all people know even since ancient times. In the beginning animals were equal to people in the meaning of natural spreading and freedom of movement. Subsequently human being has started to subdue nature and changed a significant part of it. The wild is tamed /or at least it is left with such a belief / and this way some animals become constant part of human's way of life. This way they have turned into domesticated animals and this model has been continuing even now on. At first sight, there are no problems. Everyone has his or her own animal/pet, looks after it and everything is just fine. At a certain moment, however, the essential problems come. Unscrupulous owners show irresponsibility to their pets, others show negligence leading to mutilation and mortification of animals. Still others use animals in conditions lacking vitality. This way they either get sick or become unviable and thus useless and dangerous. Everyone could evoke memories from the central street in Sofia where a horse in harness is hauling a cart full of so many people that a bus can find difficult to contain. For village people this does not only happens very often but also it is everyday routine. And if globally, wild or laboratory animals' protection depends on regulations and sanctions, domestic animal protection is a matter of our own culture and individual responsibility as well as the moral judge called consciousness.
By talking about the necessary steps to make about animal protection we take a wrong model to follow, only the physical side of it. I hope it does not sound unserious but in my opinion, people should make efforts not only to survive physically but also to keep their dignity. The broilers kept in cages, the monkeys in the zoos, domestic birds and many others have so little space which only allow them to turn round their own axis. Hamsters and guinea pigs or other aquarium animals also endure limited space. The "escape" typical of people when they fall into somebody else's insidious plan, mockery or even looks are something animals kept in cages and behind bars cannot do. Their privacy is transparent for the others, they have no tranquility to hide from the constantly expanding human world. There is no need to give any examples for animals suffering. But until the preparation of adequate policy and the establishment of permanent social adjustment towards animal protection it is necessary to remind some facts: 10% of animals transported in long distances die of suffocation, a large part of the animals loaded onto tracks and vehicles get broken legs. People's negligence and cutting off forests take away the environment of many representatives of the animal world and as a result they become extinct. Fires and ecological catastrophes kill animals on dry land, in air and in water and so on.
Such alarming facts are endless because nature is still a symbol of vitality and it gives birth. Nature is a value ignored by people. People's deeds change the world around us in a rude and apparent way. Human being could be careless not only to their body and consciousness but also to the bosom of life - nature. Thus come up basic questions about people's future. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution nature resources seemed endless. It is not like this today. People have completely destroyed many animal species and plants. Others have become extinct. This evokes another essential question concerning animal protection. Modern ecological law and eco-ethics, which create additional moral regulations, have taken up this question. After all we must not take from nature more than we need to live. We must bequeath nature to our children not poorer than what we inherited from our ancestors. One generation should not favor themselves at the expense of the next generations.
In addition I would say that the topic about animal protection is an exclusive test for the egoism of homo sapiens. This egoism could be overcome by the sanctions of our consciousness and the sanctions set by good laws, education of next generations at the age most appropriate for this and subsequently the formation of ecological consciousness that makes social and nature indivisible. In this context the topic about animal protection leads us back to our natural beginning. By taking the risk to leave an open end I would quote Leo Tolstoy who wrote in one of his works the following: "The tenderness and delight we feel when we contemplate nature is a memory from the time when we were animals, trees, flowers, soil, a memory for the natural beginning. More exactly - this is a consciousness of the united with the whole..."
by Tsvetomir Naidenov