Have you noticed that in the past few years, virtually every newscast has at least one animal story? When did this happen and why? In the midst of the reports of deplorable violations of human rights, murders and ongoing wars around the globe and the seemingly ever-increasing parade of natural disasters, the news editors have tucked stories about SPCA rescues where conditions are deplorable, or a story about a lost puppy and its distraught owner. The most recent animal incident that is chewing up the news airwaves is about Maggie the dog who was struck and killed by a transit train. As the story has continued to unfold in the news three days after the event, a Translink employee has anonymously stepped forward and claimed that the whole episode was mishandled and that the dog could have been saved. This accusation comes after train operators and employees had tried unsuccessfully for up to half an hour to corral the dog and coax it from the tracks. Now that the animal is dead and its death could reportedly have been avoided, I can just imagine the hue and cry that will be raised from animal lovers and activists. It begs the question: What is happening to the news? Where in Walter Cronkite’s newscast was there ever a mention of an animal. Why the change? Why are we being inundated with stories about animals and animal welfare? Are we being conditioned to regard animal life on the same level as human life? That seems to be where the cultural narrative is heading.
Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate animals. I find their behavour interesting and instructive. I’ve watched Animal Planet and March of the Penguins with keen interest and joy. Animals do need protection and their habitat should be preserved and I am all in favour of the humane treatment of animals both wild and domestic. But that does not mean I regard their lives on the same level as human life? Just the fact that humans can have a conversation about the worth of animal life underscores how qualitative different humans are from animals.
Recall the outcry over the dentist Walter Palmer who killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe or the shooting of Harambe the gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo in order to protect the life of a child who had fallen into its enclosure. These stories garnered more outrage and vicious online comments than the ongoing human sacrifice that is daily carried out in our hospitals and abortion mills. Clearly in some twisted way of thinking, animal life now trumps human life. Scientists and the media routinely depict humans as the bullies of the planet deserving to be culled if not outright annihilated. This same kind of thinking infected the world before, namely, in 1930s and 40s Germany. The difference now is that it seems to have taken on global rather than merely national proportions.
We are at a crossroads as the human race. Either we take seriously our privileged status as the image of God and we order the world accordingly, or we carry on down the destructive path on which we are currently traveling and take the whole cosmos with us. Listen! We are God’s image which makes us His stewards, caretakers of creation including animals. Yes, they all have value in this worldview, but their value is proportionally lesser than human life.