No matter how you believe living things came into existence, one thing remains true. Humans have certain intrinsic characteristics that are unique in their varying degrees that other living things do not have at all, which places us above all other living things.
First, we as humans, every last one of us – have a moral code that we live by. Not everybody lives by the same set of moral standards, but we each have a set, and that sets us apart from all other living organisms. Animals do not have the capacity to weigh moral implications of their actions, and therefore are not subject to be held to the same standards as humans. They may know through experience or training that they may get rewarded or disciplined for certain actions, but they do not know WHY their actions are good or bad and do not understand HOW their actions affect others.
Next, all animals were designed with general purposes common amongst all animals, and more unique purposes to specific kinds. There is not a single individual animal that has been given a unique purpose found only in that single animal and not in the rest of its kind. Animals don’t spend their lives trying to figure out what their passions and talents are. They all do pretty much the same thing, although it may vary slightly between different kinds of animals.
Humans, on the other hand, are unique in that we each have our own set of skills, talents and passions and our own unique purpose. While some of us may be driven and motivated by money and material things, others have a passion for the simple things in life and couldn’t care less what brand of clothing they wear. Some of us have no desire to have children and raise a family, while others feel incomplete and lost until they do just that. Some roll with the punches and deal with whatever life hands them while others meticulously plan every last little detail of their lives. Without these unique differences among humans, you and I would not even be in this conversation right now, because nobody would care, or we would all care on the same exact level, so there would be no need for these words to be written. There would be no differences to recognize. In fact, we as human beings are so individually unique that each and every one of us should be considered an endangered species.
When we find something an animal does funny, it’s not because the animal intentionally set out to do so. Animals don’t have a sense of humor. They don’t understand punchlines and don’t even understand why we are laughing when we laugh at something they do. If for some reason they enjoy the sound of your laughter, and have figured out that if they perform a certain behavior, they’ll get a laugh, then yes, technically they can “make” a person laugh, but that is still just being rewarded for good behavior. It does not by any stretch of the imagination imply that they understand WHY something is funny. Humans, on the other hand, are sometimes funny, sometimes not. I’ve found that the funniest people – some I know and some I’ve only seen on TV or at comedy clubs performing stand-up routines, are also some of the most intelligent and well-informed people in society. Aside from a quick wit, it also takes a lot of knowledge about a lot of subjects to be able to continue to be funny day after day after day – knowledge that animals do not have.
Humans get attached to causes. We hear about people or animals suffering, and we want to make a difference. We want to change the world. We want to eliminate homelessness and starvation. We want to protect women and children and animals. But animals cannot comprehend or process homelessness or starvation or child abuse or any other travesties for what they are; they cannot make a conscious decision to change the world. They don’t care (or not care) about these things because they are completely unaware of these things and cannot ever be made aware of them. So while we humans are out protesting or supporting our causes – including being against animal cruelty – animals are still doing the same thing they do day after day after day, which is what they were designed to do.
Things get a little trickier when we start talking about affection in animals vs. humans. Sometimes it really seems as though our fur babies have the same understanding of affection and feelings as we do. They snuggle with us at night, beg to be petted and sometimes (as in the case of my own cat) even seem to get mad at us when we don’t pay them enough attention. Mine has actually hissed at me before when I didn’t respond quickly enough to her pleas for attention. But the difference here is that while animals are only looking to please themselves, humans often give affection towards others because they want others to feel good, not just themselves.
Last but not least (well, not even last, but I’m not trying to write an entire book here), animals cannot be grateful or appreciative for groups like PETA or for no-kill animal shelters. Heck, my own cat, who was a stray that I brought in for fear that she would freeze to death over the winter, seemed by all means to really love being inside. She warmed up to me very quickly but this was not because she understood why I brought her in or what could have happened if I hadn’t rescued her. It was nothing more than that SHE felt good and was being fed and snuggled with. Humans, however, recognize other human’s sacrifices to help others. It’s evidenced in the way that adopted children most often grow up to even thank their biological parent(s) for giving them up for adoption because it gave them a better shot at life. We see it in “thank you” cards a newly married couple sends to their guests that gave them wedding gifts. It’s how we do something nice for somebody who has helped or been kind to us in the past.
Dogs didn’t choose to be man’s best friend and cats didn’t come up with the term “crazy cat lady.” We did these things to animals because WE recognize the value in having someone or something at our side, not because animals recognize these things. Animals just want what they want. Do we love our animals? Of course we do, as evidenced in all the animal rights groups, shelters, pet stores, etc. But we have dominion over animals, otherwise, they would be running the show. Petco would be Humanco. Gorillas would be making dinner for us at the homeless shelters. And my cat would be the one writing this.
Over the years, I’ve heard many people say that they wish humanity would cease to exist, that life would be so much better if it were only made up of animals. To those people I would say, I’m not sure what or where exactly you think you would fit into that equation. If we ceased to exist, we wouldn’t be around to do the very things for these animals that they cannot do for us and do not (simply because they are animals) desire to do for us. To value an animals life is admirable; to value it over the life of a human is illogical and nonsensical. When you say that animals have more value than humans, remember, you are devaluing not only all other humans but yourself as well. You are devaluing your children and grandchildren, your parents and grandparents (without whom you would not be here), your brothers and sisters, your nieces and nephews, your friends, your cousins, your coworkers and colleagues, your neighbors, and even complete strangers about whom you know nothing.
I think that about sums it up, and just in time because I’m starving and my cat refuses to make me dinner. But I’ll go ahead and feed her first because I love her and she can’t do it for herself. I’m also going to clean her little box out, because the silly little thing doesn’t have a sense of modesty or self-worth and doesn’t take pride in a clean home.