27 Mar CULTURE
I was very happy to hear the news of changes to Victorian tenancy legislation that will allow people to share rented homes with their companion animals. While it doesn’t go far enough in my opinion, this change is long overdue and necessary to prevent humans and other animals from being at risk of homelessness.
When announcing the new laws, Premier Daniel Andrews himself, referred to companion animals as “family”. I took a moment to acknowledge this progressive compassionate reform. I was genuinely excited and wanted to celebrate what is a great change.
But it wasn’t long though before I was thinking of the absolute hypocrisy of it all. Of course, I know these laws are protecting humans rather than companion animals. After all the law is recognising their worth to us, not their inherent value and fundamental rights, as we certainly wouldn’t continue to kill hundreds of thousands of homeless animals every year in pounds and shelters if it were truly about protecting “them”, but still I can’t help but think…
What about the animals who die terrifying deaths at slaughterhouses to satiate our desire for flesh? What about the animals suffering in laboratories at the hands of scientists devoid of empathy, or those who are dragged from their ocean homes and suffocated? What about them? Why don’t they deserve protection, why are they not considered family?
The answer lies I guess, in our selfish perspective of the world. We see the “other” as either a resource, a challenge, or something to give us pleasure. Companion animals give us pleasure and we want that pleasure protected.
I started to wonder; are we as a species capable of framing our ethics, beyond what is important to us? I have no doubt we are, but while our current culture dictates otherwise we continue to fail miserably.
So, I think we need a new culture, a cultural revolution if you will.
A culture that is guided by our morality rather than a morality that is guided by our culture.
Imagine that for a moment. Decisions based on understanding and a desire to be compassionate rather than on what’s gone before, and what’s in it for me. No more, this is how it’s always been done, but rather, does this hurt someone? Is my enjoyment of this at the expense of another?
I agree with Daniel Andrews, companion animals are family, but I see all Earthlings as family, and as such want them all to live free from exploitation and harm. I want them to live their lives autonomously, as nature intended and I believe recognising others as family, is the key to a peaceful, and fairer world.
So today I do celebrate the increased protection of companion animals and their guardians but I’ll hold out for the revolution.
For the compassionate revolution that will make family of us all.
Author: Felicity Andersen
Director of Blackwood Fields Animal Sanctuary and Radio Host Animal Nation
This piece was originally written for OCR FM’s radio show Animal Nation – For Compassion’s Sake segment