The mentality that conveys the message that we should help humans before we help animals is the same mentality among some who say we in America should help the poor in America before we help the poor in the third world countries. There are still some whites in the west who believe their predominantly white country should help the whites before helping blacks.
Such mindset arises comes from a kind of prejudice against other nation, other race, or other species. As the people evolved ethically they began to recognize the evil of racism. Prejudice against other species is known as speciesism and need also be looked down upon. It is encouraging to see that in spite of all the evils (primarily man made) going around the globe, there are people who do care for animals since animals have no voice.
There are more animals upon the earth than there are humans and yet there are more organizations helping humans than there are organizations helping animals. Wonder how many animal hospitals are there in Karachi as in comparison to the number of hospitals for humans!
One distinct difference between animal abuse and crime against humans is that in the later case, at least, the society admits that crime against humans is an evil and must be stopped; on the other hand, animal abuse is so much embedded in the fabric of our society that we take it as a norm.
Yes there are plenty of problems around the world, like war, global warming, world hunger, poverty, disease, torturing of prisoners, nuclear proliferation. But we never criticize the group “Doctors without Borders” for not helping out on the problem of global warming, neither we criticize the environmental groups like the Green Peace or Friends of the earth for not working against child abuse or subjugation of women in many cultures.
What is important that we do whatever we can, to minimize the evils in the world; and put our efforts where our heart is, and which we can do the best; and not try to belittle those who are doing something to make tomorrow a better world.
It is naïve to think that we could set priorities on the world problems, and then address them sequentially. It is naïve because very often problems are interrelated, such as it has been well established that animal abuse is directly linked to crimes in the society and domestic violence. This is just one example and there are many more if we free ourselves from our very narrow outlook toward the problems.
It is indisputable that humans have power over animals and having said that, in the appreciation of those who do work to help animals, I will close my comments with a quote from the 19th century American philosopher Harriet Beecher Stowe that reads:
“It is a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best of people have always done.”
President and Founder
Engineers and Scientists for Animal Rights
San Jose, CA