Are We Not All Beings?

Content 18+ We, humans, have long held a conceited notion that we are the epitome of existence, the chosen ones. This arrogant belief has often blinded us to the rights and realities of our fellow earthlings – animals. It is high time we broach a question that has long lingered in the shadows: Should animals have legal personhood?

To begin with, let's shed light on what it means to be a 'legal person'. It does not imply being human or even being alive. Corporations, for instance, are granted legal personhood. It refers to an entity's ability to possess legal rights and responsibilities. So, why can't this concept apply to animals?

"But Artem," you might say, "Animals can't understand our laws. How can they be subject to them?" A valid point, I admit. But consider this: infants and individuals with certain disabilities may also lack this understanding. Yet, they are still endowed with rights and protections under the law.

Indeed, the capacity of animals to experience a range of emotions and display behaviors that were once considered solely human is well-documented in scientific literature. Let's examine some compelling examples:

1. Empathy: A fundamental human trait, empathy has been observed in several animal species. Studies on rats have shown that they will work to free a fellow rat from a small cage, demonstrating empathetic behavior. Elephants are known for their compassionate behavior towards sick or dead members of their herd, showcasing profound emotional depth.

2. Altruism: Many animals display altruistic behavior, contradicting the notion that animals are solely driven by instinct and self-interest. Dolphins have been observed supporting sick or injured members, helping them to reach the surface to breathe. Meerkats take turns acting as a lookout for predators while the others forage for food, risking their own safety for the group.

3. Grief: Animals have demonstrated signs of grief and mourning. Researchers have observed chimpanzees and gorillas holding vigil over a deceased group member. Elephants are also known to revisit the bones of their dead, touching them gently with their trunks.

4. Problem-solving and tool use: Crows have been observed using tools, such as twigs, to extract insects from tree bark – a sign of advanced problem-solving skills. Octopuses are also known for their exceptional intelligence, demonstrated by their ability to navigate mazes and open jars.

5. Communication: While animals may not have a 'language' in the human sense, many species utilize sophisticated forms of communication. Bees perform intricate 'waggle dances' to inform hive mates about the location of food sources. Dolphins communicate using a complex system of clicks, whistles, and body movements.

6. Self-awareness: The mirror test is often used as an indicator of self-awareness in animals. Great apes, dolphins, elephants, and even some birds like magpies, have passed this test, indicating their ability to recognize themselves as individuals separate from their environment.

These examples illustrate that animals exhibit a range of 'human-like' traits and emotions. Recognizing this, it seems only logical to reconsider their legal status, affording them rights that go beyond mere animal welfare, acknowledging them as sentient beings capable of complex emotional and cognitive experiences.

Our genetic makeup, for one, is a testament to our shared lineage with other animals. We share about 98.7% of our DNA with chimpanzees, our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom. Not so superior now, are we?

Think about our primal instincts - the fight or flight response when confronted with danger. Isn't this what a deer does when it senses a predator? Or consider childbirth - a natural process we share with every mammal on this planet. Are we not animals when we reproduce and nurture our young?

And let's not forget the darker side of humanity. War, violence, territorial disputes - aren't these reminiscent of wolves fighting over territory or lions battling for control over a pride? Our political and social structures are strikingly similar to those of chimpanzees, complete with power struggles and alliances.

We've built civilizations, created art and technology - feats that make us feel superior. But are these markers of superiority or merely adaptations for survival? After all, bees build intricate hives, beavers construct impressive dams, and dolphins use tools and complex strategies for hunting.

In essence, humans are just another species in the vast animal kingdom. By acknowledging this reality, perhaps we can better appreciate the shared experience of life on this planet and extend our circle of empathy to include all sentient beings.

Now, let's cut to the chase. We naked apes have crafted a world where we hold all the cards, and we've been dealing them in our favor for centuries. In this game, animals have been losing out, left vulnerable to our whims and cruelties.

Legal personhood for animals? It's not just a proposition; it's a necessity. It's time to stop treating animals as objects for us to use and abuse at our convenience. They aren't commodities or experiments; they're sentient beings, deserving of respect and protection.

Our so-called 'animal welfare' laws are riddled with gaps wider than the Grand Canyon. They're often about as effective as a paper shield in a sword fight. Why? Because these laws were made by us, for us, with little regard for the animals they purportedly protect.

Consider this, my cat, Fiona, a charming creature with a mind of her own. I don't call her 'it', she's not an object. She has a name, an identity. She feels, she expresses, she communicates. To call her 'it', would be an affront, a blatant disregard for her individuality. If we can't bear to reduce our pets to 'its', why do we do so for other animals?

Legal personhood for animals isn't just about protection – it's about respect, it's about dignity. It's about acknowledging that they are more than just automatons operating on instinct. They have personalities, they have emotions, and yes, they have rights - or at least, they should.

When we classify animals as 'legal persons', we give them an identity beyond their utility to us. We recognize their inherent worth as living beings, not just components in our scientific experiments or tools for our entertainment.

We have long subscribed to a hierarchical view of life, placing humans at the top and animals at the bottom. But as we venture further into the 21st century, armed with scientific revelations and a growing empathy for all life forms, we must challenge this outdated perspective. We are naked apes, after all.


4 thoughts on “Are We Not All Beings?

  1. What a poignant reminder of the boundless capacity for empathy that exists not only within our own species but also among our fellow inhabitants of this wondrous planet. From the noble deeds of rats striving to liberate their peers to the touching displays of compassion exhibited by elephants in moments of sorrow, these examples speak volumes about the universality of empathy across the animal kingdom. As we marvel at these heartening stories, let us be inspired to cultivate and cherish empathy in our own lives, recognizing it as a cornerstone of our shared humanity and a guiding light towards a more compassionate world.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.