In our day, there are stresses and fractures of the human-animal bond, and some forces at work would sever it once and for all. They pull us in the wrong direction and away from the decent and honorable code that makes us care for creatures who are entirely at our mercy. Especially within the last two hundred years, we’ve come to apply an industrial mind-set to the use of animals, too often viewing them as if they were nothing but articles of commerce and the raw material of science, agriculture, and wildlife management. Here, as in other pursuits, human ingenuity has a way of outrunning human conscience, and some things we do only because we can–forgetting to ask whether we should.
Faced with an ecological crisis whose roots lie in this disengagement, in the separation of human agency and social responsibility from the sphere of our direct involvement with the non-human environment, it surely behoves us to reverse this order of priority. I began with the point that while both humans and animals have histories of their mutual relations, only humans narrate such histories. But to construct a narrative, one must already dwell in the world and, in the dwelling, enter into relationships with its constituents, both human and non-human. I am suggesting that we rewrite the history of human-animal relations, taking this condition of active engagement, of being-in-the-world, as our starting point. We might speak of it as a history of human concern with animals, insofar as this notion conveys a caring, attentive regard, a 'being with'. And I am suggesting that those of us who are 'with' animals in their day-to-day lives, most notably hunters and herdsmen, can offer us some of the best possible indications of how we might proceed.
If you believe that humans are animals, there can be no such thing as the history of humanity, only the lives of particular humans. If we speak of the history of the species at all, it is only to signify the unknowable sum of these lives. As with other animals, some lives are happy, others wretched. None has a meaning that lies beyond itself.
This for many people is what is most offensive about hunting—to some, disgusting: that it encourages, or allows, us not only to kill but to take a certain pleasure in killing. It's not as though the rest of us don't countenance the killing of tens of millions of animals every year. Yet for some reason we feel more comfortable with the mechanical killing practiced, out of view and without emotion by industrial agriculture.
Humanity is not only ‘great acts’ spending thousands, putting your name on headlines. Humanity is to be kind to every living being, to be compassionate towards all, even to the tiniest animal, seen and unseen. Some people consider killing ants or pest normal, but I find it is an act of extreme cruelty. By killing them you violate their rights to live. We must remember that the earth and the universe belongs to all of us. We are just another species out of millions of species, and we share the universe with them and most importantly, remember that we belong to each other.
We poetically construct our identity as human beings, together with our values, largely through reciprocal relationships with animals. They provide us with essential points of reference, as well as illustrations of the qualities that we may choose to emulate or avoid in ourselves. Any major change in our relationships with animals, individual or collective, reverberates profoundly in our character as human beings, in ways that go far beyond immediately pragmatic concerns. When a species becomes extinct, something perishes in the human soul as well.