Friday, July 15, 2005George F. Will has been one of my favorite writers for nearly a decade. His work - intellectual but accessible - has been instrumental in confirming my conservative beliefs in the strength of local communities, respect for human life and small, but efficient government. Will does not idly take up a cause, so I find it encouraging that in a recent Newsweek column he took up the issuee of animal cruelty.
Based upon a recent column by Dominion author Matthew Scully, Will clearly restates Scully's initial query: why are we appalled at cruelty towards our pets but not towards billions and billions of livestock?
It's a reasonable question, even if one is a steak-chomping dog lover. The thinking continues in this post at Mere Comments. The theme in all of these pieces, particularly Will's, is this: what will you do with this knowledge that God's creatures have been abused, tortured, manipulated and barbarized at the altar of convenience and greed? I heard someone say once that it's difficult to turn away from this. I concur, and I've got three weeks of a meat-free diet to back that up. I know three weeks isn't a long time by any stretch, but I can't turn away. I may one day (soon, perhaps) develop a meat-consuming diet that is, by and large, free of the cruelty that takes place in factory farms. I draw a moral distinction between free-range beef and chicken and that of stockyards and factories, and it is indeed possible that may diet may eventually reflect that fact.
I said before, and I will reiterate. There are other concerns in the world; the defense of the unborn and the elderly, the fight against terrorism, the need to work against povery and discontent in the third world. As a Christian, my highest calling is the glory of God and I hope that through missions His name is made great throughout the world. Yet we are called to do what we can, as we can. And I can make small but noticeable changes in my own life, as a testimony to the justice that my faith establishes. God granted man dominion, to be sure, but we are not granted license to manipulate, to slash and burn, to rule however we please. Our faith calls us to something higher, and when faced with the bleak and sickening alternative, there is no turning back.
Here are two other good articles on animal cruelty, both written by conservatives: one by John Derbyshire, the other by sitcom writer Warren Bell.
(I should mention that one reason I keep posting links to pieces by conservatives is simply to dispell the myth that conservatives don't care about such things. Some don't, to be sure, but a lot of us do, and we find these beliefs to be a natural outgrowth of traditional conservative thought, which was itself born out of the Christian ethic that developed over the last two millenia. That's for a whole other post, however, so I'll hush now)