Features

Beyond Ruffy The Dog And Meowy The Cat

The language of fear and hatred
transcends words and species —
it is of shrieks and screams.

— Shilashanti

In books and movies, when humans talk to animals and give them personal names, even if the animals do not talk back to the humans or call them by their names, two things usually do not happen. First, the humans will not eat these animals. Second, the animals will not eat these humans. Why? Because there is already a fundamental sense of respect established and portrayed, an attribution by humans, of unique personhood upon the animals. Think Ruffy the dog, Meowy the cat… (Even from the animals’ side, there should be some sense of reciprocal respect for the humans too, for having treated them well.)

The other way round, the animals whom the same humans do not talk to or call by their personal names, are the ones who might get eaten. Think fish, chicken and such, all without personal names. Even the names of these species are exactly the same as the names of their flesh, as if they are nothing other than meat-to-be. Then there are various other meats given other names to project more cognitive dissonance between the sentient beings they were, versus the meats they have become. Think beef, pork and such. (Of course, these animals probably do not have or express much respect for their human oppressors and slaughterers too.)

Interestingly, the above phenomenon on talking and naming spills over to cartoons for the young too, with anthropomorphised animals, who are depicted to think and talk like humans. In other words, when these talking animals talk to other animals and address them by their names, even if these other animals do not reply or call them back by their names, the same two things do not happen – they will not eat each other. Ruffy might be chatting with Meowy, or even have a classic cat versus dog fight, but they will not eat each other. But if an unnamed mouse not on talking terms scurries by, there is no telling if Meowy might make a dash to paw at him.

There is this parallel because the psychology of the cartoon characters came from their adult human creators. The culprit is speciesism (or unfair discrimination of animals by their species). Perhaps the path to equanimous respect for all sentient beings is to get these same adults to anthropomorphise all other animals too and feature them in a series, with realistic issues resolved in harmony. This ought to iron out all remnant speciesism? This series would be watched by kids, who hopefully grow up to be non-speciesist too. This is an example of how the current generation can educate the next, instead of imparting speciesism, habitually and mindlessly.

The language of gratitude and love
transcends words and species —
it is of smiles and hugs.

— Shilashanti

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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