How you relate to animals is a revealing indicator of your worldview—even of your character. By virtue of our nearly unlimited powers over animals, how we treat them is no trivial matter. It is a litmus test of mind and soul.
We may note, on one radical fringe, those who speak of animal rights as if animals were superior to humans. Such people vandalize biology labs that experiment on animals in the interest of humans, throw paint on fur coats, and burn homes built in forested areas. Less maliciously, but just as tellingly, are those who wave mosquitoes away rather than slap them dead, tiptoe around ants, practice catch-and-release methods with mice found in their homes, and view the ingestion of animal meat as complicity in murder.
On the other radical fringe are those who torture and abuse animals. We witness this on the small scale when someone is exposed by the media for cruelty to a pet. On a grander scale, cruelty to animals has become a way of life at some farm factories.
One of the serious social implications of the demise of the family farm has been the rise of a few corporations that produce meat in the most cost-efficient manner. Here, executives in air conditioned offices pour over spreadsheets, pressing for higher profit margins. Their policies force workers, for instance, to confine millions of hogs to live out their days in 22 inch wide metal stalls in which they cannot turn around, never see the light of day, will never set foot on earth, and, due to medical “advances,” can now be raised in conditions that by all rights should kill them. And this is to say nothing of the genetic engineering quest to produce (and even clone) such hideous creatures as featherless chickens and stress-free hogs (zombies) to increase profit margins by minimizing farming hassles. (See Matthew Scully’s book, [amazon 0312261470], St. Martin’s Press, 2002).