Humans are animals…

Thisanjali Gangoda

Everyone has his or her cause. People invest their time, money and passions in a vast number of issues that range in interest and focus. Though no two causes are alike and no one cause trumps another in importance, some individuals think otherwise and tirelessly coerce others into viewing issues the same way they do. It always shocks me how audacious these people can be, mindlessly claiming that “this” issue is more important than “that” issue, and so on and so forth.

On Monday when I read Frank Yonkof’s article titled, “Humans always come before animals,” I was forced to acknowledge the shortcomings of humanity and why we as a species can’t properly come together to create a better world. Once again, Mr. Yonkof has proved to be insensitive, illogical and one-sided in framing his arguments, this time about why animals are less worthy creatures than humans.

“I guess I have major problems with someone telling me to donate to fight animal abuse when there are children starving throughout the world. Surely no one could dispute that helping a human being is way more important than helping an animal, no matter what the circumstance is.” Surely I can and will dispute such a statement, solely based on the fact that those two issues are not even remotely comparable.

You might as well go ahead and question why people spend money going to the movies when they could easily donate those dollars to disaster relief in Haiti or the homeless in Cleveland. Pitting human life against animal life is both unfair and unnecessary.

It undercuts the work of both human rights activists and animal rights activists, people who acknowledge all living beings are interconnected. To truly resolve an issue, you must work to establish universal peace and harmony, people and animals alike.

What good can be accomplished from separating the two causes, declaring one as being more worthy of protection? The very reason that animal rights is in existence is because of human interference. It wouldn’t be an issue if we didn’t make it one.

Since freshman year of high school I’ve been passionate about human rights issues, while my best friend Kristyn has always been passionate about animal rights issues. Having known Kristyn since the age of four, we’ve both grown and developed ourselves and our interests in two different directions. During that time and still today, we’ve not once argued about whose activist work has been of more value.

While Kristyn spends her time working at animal shelters and petting cats, I volunteer at the local soup kitchen and battered women’s shelter. When we talk about our experiences, what we learned and how inspired we are to continue doing what we do, the conversation always arises of how closed-minded individuals can be about any kind of activist work.

People who don’t even do activist work claim to have a stake in a slew of issues, making brash and weird statements like, “I consider myself to be a huge pet lover, but at the end of the day, I could never swerve to miss an animal in the road at the risk of killing another driver and her or her passengers.”

What? When the time comes for me to deal with such an outrageous situation, I’ll leave it to fate and my mad driving skills to sort it out. But for the time being, I’m content being passionate about human rights while also being aware of animal welfare. At the very least, I’ve learned to facilitate open and understanding conversation about both subjects.

Mr. Yonkof, you said in your article: “It’s easy for some people to forget that their pet is an animal. But analyzing it at a deeper level, these people would rather be absorbed in their pets than to work toward making human relationships stronger with family and friends around them.”

Having said so, you are perpetuating the very problem that you wish to change, alienating yourself from people who do love their families, friends and pets just fine. You have disparaged human rights and animal rights work, making light of the real issues that are at stake.

If you really love animals and value human life, consider this: They are one and the same. I guess my priorities are to value the whole pictures and not just the pieces and parts. You should do the same, dude.

Thisanjali Gangoda is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].