Animal Lives Matter Too

Adriana Ivanoff, Staff Writer

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There are intersections in belief from all across the world when it comes to spirituality and the existence of life and consciousness. This interlocked ideology has occurred in different eras and even completely diverging historical founding and social structures that believe that people are connected to animals by the same form of spirit. 

Yet, many people in western teachings are taught to believe that true life is only completely traceable in acts or complete forms of consciousness. Meaning that, because animals aren’t able to speak or explain their actions that they can not feel. 

One of the most impactful waves of progress that started to change societal thought about animals having the ability to feel in American society came from Koko the gorilla. A gorilla that had been taught sign language by Penny Patterson. Even after Koko’s death people still scarcely believed that Koko could understand language. 

Even though the BBC published an article in June. 22, 2018 titled ‘Koko: Gorilla death coverage rekindles language debate’ clearly mentions the years of research accumulated by the team that followed Koko around her whole life, which was 46 years.

Ms. Patterson and her researchers documented that the gorilla understood some 2,000 words of spoken English. The abilities of the gorilla to understand spoken English were documented by Ms. Patterson and her researchers.” 

To combat those who would not believe that Koko was able to communicate through human language, the BBC ended the article with this. 

“Whether she used sign language or not, her command of gestures was extraordinary for a gorilla. She connected not only with some humans but also with animals, especially kittens.”

To many, animals that don’t have the ability of stating consciousness aren’t as deserving as life as mankind so many people have no qualms with sending them to the slaughterhouse. Not all animals are able to communicate like Koko however, wolves howl at the loss of their companions who live and die beside each other surrounded in families that they call packs. 

There are support animals that have empathy and ability to resonate with humans in order to support people or even save their lives. Elephants lay down beside their fallen lifemates until they die themselves and ostriches commit suicide because of loneliness when they are seperated from their flocks. Information relayed by RSPCA.org in their article ‘Wild Animals in Captivity’ also reveals that any animal can have emotional responses. 

“Placing an animal in surroundings that are unsuitable for the species can cause stress and behavioral problems.” 

Perhaps the idea that animals had no soul began with Christianity teaching people to believe that only humans were in God’s graces. If you’re Christian think of it this way, God sent man to protect his flock; his beloved creations time and time again in what he had seen as the most humble of jobs. 

In other religions, buddhists, for example, believe in this idea of reincarnation that you can live over a hundred lifetimes in different forms. Some who have lost people find solace in believing their beloved and lost family member was reincarnated into another animal. Like Phoebe in the tv show Friends episode ‘The One With The Cat’ that aired Oct. 2, 1997

In native American culture animals were praised and respected in prayer even as they were eaten. They believed that there was the same grand spirit residing in those animals as there were people, so much so that animals were identified as spirit guides.

I’m a vegetarian who can’t even handle killing a scary spider. I’m someone that once joined a protest by putting myself in a cage similar to what they used for chickens and cows. I want to say just once without backlash or causing anger that I understand your love of meat and wanting that feeling of being completely full. I once went vegan and felt like I was constantly starving so that I would not hurt something that could feel. 

I never want to impose my belief upon people, I just want you to realize that animals are as alive as you and I. I hope the next time you eat a burger you acknowledge that it felt agony when it was slaughtered and that the flavor you taste is its fear. The new normal is that you can buy any dead carcass at a grocery store. The carcass of a creature that felt life, and you feel no remorse or barely recognize the existence of its life.