Prop 2 will give farm animals room
to turn around.
When it comes to our dealings with animals, we are all on a pathway. Many of us deeply committed to the cause of protecting animals started out with no awareness of the problem of human-caused cruelty and abuse. But with more information and reflection, we started down the track of greater understanding and more empathy. And some of us have become advocates, not content just to live by a set of principles but compelled to see them broadly adopted by society.
For me, that journey took years, and I am still learning all the time, even though I am president of the largest animal protection group in the world and have access to the best information anyone could have.
For veterans of animal advocacy, it’s uplifting to see others in the process of a moral awakening on the issue.
It was a particular pleasure for me to see Nicholas Kristof’s column today, "A Farm Boy Reflects," partly because he’s moved quite a long way on the issue of animal protection since his last public discourse on the subject. Of course, Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is best known for his powerful and compelling writings about human rights—he’s covered Darfur, child prostitution networks, sweatshops and other forced labor set-ups, and other human injustices.
His observations about animals and their plight bore little kinship with his progressive thinking about human rights. In previous columns, he criticized the global movement to protect whales from commercial killing, seemingly unable to reconcile the circumstance of his own rural upbringing and the killing of animals on the farm with today’s commercial killing of other mammals like whales.
He’s on a path, like the rest of us. I like to believe that the vast majority of us, and society as a whole, are moving in a direction of more enlightenment in our dealings with animals. But getting to a comfortable place is not always easy, and often confusing. Exploiting animals is wrong, and empathizing with others, even if they look different than we do, is a good thing.
Proposition 2, to be voted on in November, will be an excellent indicator of whether we are moving fast enough as a nation.