I’ve been wanting to write about the concept of cruelty. It at first seems that one of the things that separates us from much of the animal kingdom is our capacity for cruelty: Our ability to hurt ourselves and others without biologically needing to do so. If you think to other species, there are things that happen that violate the golden rule: spiders consuming the male spider after mating, for example, or a cat injuring a small animal or insect then playing with it before leaving it to die. These animals are not doing unto others as they would have done to them.
However, it seems to me that we would never punish an animal for doing these things. We don’t judge them as being evil or bad, it’s just they way they are wired. They can’t control doing things that are cruel, right?
So just for fun, apply that same attitude to humans. Maybe in the same way, nothing we do is really cruel. Just as in the animal kingdom, punishment by the colony is given to those whose actions violate the goal of propogation of the species. I suppose that when a spider bites the head off her mate, it is because he has done his job of furthering the species and for him to live would be a drain on the family. I suppose that when a cat toys with its prey, it is doing so because it needs to keep its hunting skills sharp in order to ensure health for itself so that it may live to nurture the next generation and reproduce.
So thinking of some things humans do that are cruel, cruelty to animals, children, or mates might be good areas to explore. Thinking back to our own history, we used to stone women for adultery, and these days, women hire hitmen to kill adulterous husbands. Cruelty to children is likely universally punished, as it is not in line with propagation of the species. Cruelty to homosexuals is currently at a state of around 50% accceptance, at least in this country. I think people are torn between mating routines that clearly do not further propogation of the species, while on the other hand, gay couples have demonstrated that they can still birth, adopt and raise healthy children and families. I suspect that homosexuality will continue to gain acceptance as long as science enables them to reproduce, and if they continue to promote that they can sustain harmonious relationships conducive to child-raising. However, homosexuality on the down-low will likely always have a sharp stigma due to the mistrust it fosters, as will any adulterous relationships.
Cruelty to animals has gained much momentum in this country. The Animal Planet’s show Animal Precinct, as well as organizations such as PETA, have convinced many people through heinous videos that cruelty to animals must be regulated. But again, the country is torn between being nice to animals while they are alive, but then killing them for their meat and fur. Because of the fact that not all humans are able to be vegetarians (think of the Eskimos) due to their enivronment (do you really want everyone in the world to move to California?), we will never be a herbivore species entirely. As far as eating animals, my stance is that you might as well not eat them if there are other choices available. Then is killing animals for their food cruel? I would say not, generally speaking. Hunting and fishing are skills which may be needed for survival. I suppose every human should know how to stay alive by foraging for plants or animals if they are very, very hungry.
Just as my cat doesn’t NEED to kill anything to live RIGHT NOW, I don’t NEED to kill anything to live RIGHT NOW, but we both should keep our skills fresh. I suppose you then need to apply the same to military readiness to be able to kill other people if needed. This kill-or-be-killed mentality is not popular in our safe little country, but we must remember it was our military and police strength which enabled, and still enables, us to have our freedom, peace, and order.
I guess I’m still of the mindset that peaceful and cruelty-free resolutions should be our first resort, but I’m not as convinced as Ghandi, that they should be the only resort.