Had a thought today after being subjected to a few animal welfare-related charity advertisements. Thought about it numerous times in the past and figure I’ll come on here to go on record with my feelings on the subject.
A decade back or so I did donate periodically to organizations like the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. Then at some point that ceased and I never got back into doing so. The reasons being that 1.) so many other people donate to such causes and I am aware many of those organizations have become very well-funded over time, and 2.) I’d rather put my money toward organizations or causes that benefit human beings.
Some people don’t like to hear that, and that’s fine. What I find interesting is how many people over time I’ve chatted with who speak of human beings with enormous disdain while at the same time they view animals as victims of our species in dire need of aid. While I certainly wouldn’t deny that animals, by and large, have proven to be casualties of the human rising civilization project, either through destroying their habitats or by utilizing them to perform jobs for us or by neglect shown in situations like puppy mill profiteering. It’s not that I don’t have a heart for these matters, it’s just that I see humans as casualties in similar respects as well. And I’ve come to believe that if we don’t wish to be surrounded by so many people we find endlessly aggravating or whom we distrust, then we’re going to have to care more about their welfare. Because it takes showing love to generate more love among humans. An individual abandoned in wretched circumstances as a youth very likely won’t be as inclined to become a helpful, productive adult unless others have shown them care and concern that tapped into their empathy at some point.
But then again, not all charities geared toward humans are created equally either. In fact, I distrust a great many of them and am very conservative about where I donate money. Too many CEOs make themselves rich off the backs of the needy, this is no secret (see the Red Cross, an organization I will never donate to again, not since 2005). I’d rather hand the money over to an individual directly in most cases instead of to an organization that will consume 80% on the dollar for “administrative costs.” But my point here is that I personally would rather place my energy (my money, time, whatever) toward impacting the lives of other people, partly because I am grateful for what help I’ve received in the past from others who cared, and also partly because I worry about the depths people can plunge when they grow antisocial after coming up feeling like the world is against them.
We’re a more complex species with more complex problems, obviously so. Our psychological well-being is no joke and has a way of “paying forward” what it feels it has received. Animals do matter, and tons of other people are onto solving their dilemmas. But the animal that pulls at my own heart strings the most is the species I belong to. And I say this as someone who works with animals everyday and have for over 7 years now and as someone who grew up adoring animals and spending more time with them than my human peers. In my day-to-day life I observe animals treated better than plenty of kids I’ve known, receiving medical care at the first sign of any symptom, being fed exorbitantly high-cost foods, being provided all sorts of products and toys for their amusement and exercised regularly. But then again, I live in an urban area where animal welfare is deemed a very big deal, which is strikingly different from how it was (and likely still is) in the small Southern town where I originated from. Even so, I’m not sold on it necessarily being such a good thing for so many people to become obsessed with animal welfare to the point where they elevate the animals above and beyond humans in terms of their levels of concern. That does strike me as a strange “liberal” trend that says more about the psychology of people (and how much we grate on one another’s nerves) than the pureness of our intentions. Almost like a form of transference born out of frustration with other members of our own species.
But I’ll save the rest of those musings for another day. All I’m aiming for today is to rather briefly explain my own position on this matter. I only have so much money to spread around and prefer to share it with other people since I feel we’re likely to benefit more in the long-run. And by that I mean those individuals in question being helped as well as society as a whole since it’s composed of all of us. If we let one another fall through the cracks, are we not setting up a situation likely to produce people inclined to prey on us on down the line? I see these interpersonal issues as interconnected and believe we reap what we sow in our social relations, even if it’s future generations who ultimately wind up dealing with the choices people make today.
Anyway, just a passing thought.