A true religion

In his letter of Oct. 24, Richard Casey refers to animal rights as being a religion. As an animal-rights activist I wholeheartedly agree. Anything true is inherently religious.

But we must understand what religion is. Religionist extraordinaire Mahatma Gandhi stated that the essence of religion is ethics, that the compassionate man is the religious man. True religion (some prefer the word “spirituality”) is not a sect, organization or business, it is selflessness.

Lord Mahavira was not trying to create a sect when he said: “Know other creatures’ love for life, for they are like you. Kill them not; save their life from fear and enmity. All creatures desire to live, not die.” He simply understood the logic of reality.

Likewise, St. Francis of Assisi said: “All things of creation are children of the Father and thus brothers of man … God wants us to help animals, if they need help. Every creature in distress has the same right to be protected.”

Not having created animals, where do we get the idea that we have the right to take their lives? Mr. Casey says that animals do not think and feel as we do. True, but they do think and feel.

As for his statement that animals do not love or hate, he obviously doesn’t know animals very well. There are all sorts of examples where animals both love and hate. Interestingly, when I worked with mentally-retarded adults there were a few insensitive people who claimed the same of them.

The animal-rights controversy is a battle between the sacred and the profane. Joseph Campbell said, “The culture has gone into an economic and political phase where spirituality in any aspect of our contempory Western civilization.”

And Albert Schweitzer said, “To the truly ethical man, all of life is sacred, including forms of life that from the human point of view may seem lower than ours.”

Arthur Shimkus

Siddha Yoga Worker